This goes back to the troubling minutes immediately after the Penguins' 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. The players were a mess. You aren't supposed to lose a game by nearly a touchdown with so much at stake. The coaches might have been worse. What had just hit their team and what in the world were they going to do to keep it from happening again?
"We were, obviously, pretty upset," coach Dan Bylsma said yesterday.
But there, suddenly and unexpectedly, was Lemieux. He was the first to meet the dejected players coming off the ice, which is something he never does. He then huddled briefly behind closed doors with Bylsma and his staff.
It was all positive.
"All he said basically was, 'We'll be all right,' " Bylsma said. "He did the same thing with the coaches in Washington D.C. after we lost the first two games of that series. I clearly remember him saying, 'It's a long two months.' "
Bylsma was touched by the support in a tough moment and said as much to general manager Ray Shero as the team was boarding its flight back to Pittsburgh that night. Shero sent Lemieux a text message to thank him.
Lemieux sent one right back.
We are a family and in this together. We don't need anyone that is only with us WIN or TIE. I really think this is our year. Let's forget about tonight ... It happens. We will win Tuesday and win the Cup Friday.
"Amazing," Shero said yesterday. "We had just got shellacked, 5-0, our goalie had been pulled and he says he's got a great feeling about this team? That's awesome to me."
Shero showed the text to Bylsma, who asked Lemieux if it was OK to send it to each player. Lemieux agreed. The Penguins won Game 6, 2-1, at Mellon Arena Tuesday night.
Just as the boss said they would.
On Friday morning, each of the Penguins awoke to find this on their cell phone:
This is a chance of a lifetime to realize your childhood dream to win a Stanley Cup. Play without fear and you will be successful! See you at center ice.
The schadenfreude part of us wanted to go into the depths of the Red Wings internet to lap up some tears.
If Joe Denardo was still doing the weather, he would have issued a Monsoon Warning.
After the jump, we decide to dig the knife a little deeper.
Because we are all class.
A mid-season coaching change, bringing in some no-name coach.
Subtle trades near the trading deadline.
Not knowing which MAF would show up every night.
Facing off against your two most bitter rivals in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Exorcising demons to win the Stanley Cup in Game 7.
As the silver chalice was raised by Sidney Crosby, we raised our own cup and toasted general manager Ray Shero. The English language hasn't evolved enough for us to put into words what Shero's steadiness at the helm has brought to this team. We're not even going to try.
As for Game 7 itself, Max Talbot has put himself into the YouTube Hall of Fame.
Once that second goal beat Elroy, the Wings simply fell into the Pens' hands. They started bringing all their shit; Zetterberg taking 2-minute shifts, Lidstrom logging 80 minutes of ice time. When osteoporosis had the game on his stick with 2 seconds left, all of Detroit wished he hadn't logged 27 minutes of ice time up to that point.
But it didn't really matter. Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't letting that puck in. MAF erased all doubts surrounding him being a "shaky" goaltender. Ask a Red Wing what they think of Marc-Andre Fleury now.
Better yet, just ask this guy:
When you win the Stanley Cup, your focus shouldn't be on anything else.
They know they were beaten by the better team.
The Red Wings didn't lose this Cup. The Pens won it.