It has been a long seven years, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally reclaimed the Stanley Cup. The Pens team that made back-to-back Finals appearances, losing in 2008 and winning in 2009, seemed poised to be an annual contender. Yet, the Penguins faltered, being adequate enough to make it into the playoffs, but not great enough to win it all.
That changed when Jim Rutherford was hired as the Penguins General Manager in 2014. He started re-building the team around cornerstones Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. He made a blockbuster deal for Phil Kessel, as well as other trades, and made the controversial decision to fire Pens’ head coach Mike Johnston and replace him with their AHL coach, Mike Sullivan. It all worked out in the end.
For a more in-depth look at how the Penguins rebuilt themselves into a championship team, plus a recap of every players’ contributions, take a look at this interactive timeline. ■
Or you could get them some ice from the Consol Energy Center that has been melted down and put into a puck or a mini Stanley Cup. It’s the ice that the Penguins and Sharks skated on for Games One, Two and Five. This is great for Pens fans who like water that they can’t drink. And if Sidney Crosby spit on the ice in any of those games, it might even have his DNA! No, not really. All kidding aside, these are pretty nice.
The Crystal Puck looks fancy and comes in a posh blue box that bears the Stanley Cup Championship logo. It costs $49.99, with free shipping.
But I think I like the “Crystal Cup” better.
Like the real Stanley Cup, the Crystal “filled with ice” Cup comes with its own coffin storage case. At $79.99 (with free shipping) it costs a bit more than the crystal puck, but I think the box makes it worthwhile. It lists out the years of the Penguins’ four Championships, their regular season record, the results in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and the game-by-game results of the Finals.
The ice-filled Crystal Puck and Crystal Cup collectibles — as well as other Penguins Championship merchandise — are being sold by SportsMemorabilia.com, who is running a $20 off promotion for Flag Day. Use code FLAG at checkout to save $20 on an order of $100 or more. ■
Hockey is not often the subject of songs, but this sad news reminds me of a song by The Tragically Hip called “Fifty Mission Cap,” which is actually about a Pro Set hockey card issued during the 1990s.
The tenth year of the NHL’s “Salary Cap Era” has wrapped up. To the surprise of perhaps no one, no team that had the highest-paid roster has won the Stanley Cup in the past decade. The Vancouver Cancucks — who were paid a league-high $70,975,000 in 2010-11 — almost did it when they came within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Above is an interactive chart that displays the highest-paid team and the Stanley Cup-wining team, plus the teams that scored the most goals, that allowed the fewest goals, and that had the best record during the regular season. The chart also notes where each team ranked overall in league payroll for that season.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a modern-era dynasty, winning the Stanley Cup three times in six years. The journey started way back in 2002, when the team selected defenseman — and future Conn Smythe Trophy winner — Duncan Keith in the NHL Entry Draft.
Solid drafting has been the key to Chicago’s success. Of the 25 players who suited up for the Blackhawks in the 2015 playoffs, 12 were drafted between 2002 and 2013, while seven were acquired in trades and six others were signed as free agents.
For more detail on how this dynasty was crafted, plus a recap of how every player contributed to the ‘Hawks latest championship, check out this interactive timeline. ■
Blackhawks fans are a passionate bunch, so it takes something above and beyond your typical jersey or face paint to stand out in this sea of red. But lifelong ‘Hawks fan Michael Rigitano is anything but typical. After the team won the Stanley Cup in 2010, he exceeded the normal boundaries of fandom and descended into something much deeper. On a dare, he built a life-size replica of Lord Stanley’s Cup — using bottle caps. Many, many thousands of bottle caps.
Since then, the Bottle Cap Stanley Cup has had a life of its own. Rigitano — a college student who also teaches children and adults how to play hockey — and his trophy were guests at the United Center and have appeared on TV, on the radio and in newspapers around Chicago. His creation helped raise money for breast cancer research at a Chicago Steel (USHL) game. The NHL even arranged for the “Cap Cup,” as he calls it, to be photographed with the real deal.
I spoke with Rigitano to learn what drove him to undertake such a monumental task.
Sal Barry: I’m going to just cut right to it — why did you make a replica of the Stanley Cup out of bottle caps?