The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second Stanley Cup in a row last night and their 5th Cup since the 1990-91 season. Back when I started following hockey in the early 1970’s up until they drafted Mario Lemieux the thought of Stanley Cup and Penguins honestly never crossed my mind and I never heard one fan ever bring it up. In looking today I guess there was a good reason back then, from the 1972-73 season until the 1987-88- a period of 16 seasons only four teams in the league won the Stanley Cup. The Montreal Canadians won six, The Islanders and Oilers won four in that period and the Flyers won two.
I went to a lot of Penguin games back in the late 70’s to early 80’s. The Penguins made the playoffs some seasons. They had some interesting characters on their teams but until they got the #1 pick and drafted Mario Lemieux in 1984 they were basically also rans. When they finally won the Stanley Cup for the first time it was still a feeling of disbelief even though they had a great team.
I don’t follow the regular season anymore. It seems like they go half speed in the regular season. There is nothing like playoff hockey though. There is also in fairness no way that the players in the NHL could play an 80 game season like they do in the playoffs. No one would be left to play. The playoffs are intense and for a fan watching on tv full of anxiety. It was an entertaining two months.
No team has won 3 Stanley Cups in a row since the early 80’s when the New York Islands won four in a row. What makes it so difficult even to win back to back Cups is- the length of the playoffs. In the past two years the Penguins have played two 80 game regular seasons and in those two seasons a total of 49 playoff games. The playoffs last two months. The off-season is brief and then come fall another 80 game season. No team had won two in a row since Detroit in the late 1990’s. Usually the two teams in the Stanley Cup finals- do not go far in the playoffs the next season. I see the odds are out for next season and the Penguins are the early favorites. Time will tell. It will be difficult to achieve.
Being a Pittsburgh sports fan since the late 1960’s- I have been lucky enough to root for successful teams, the least successful team -the baseball Pirates won World Series in 1971 and 1979, the Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the Penguins now five Stanley Cups , in 1976 the Pitt Panthers won the College Football National Championship.