“Remember the success. Remember what it took. Remember how it felt. Never lose the fire.” – Mike Lange
Today begins the two month journey we’ve all experienced in full the previous two seasons. The journey that starts as the snow continues to melt and ends when stepping outside is a goddamn nightmare.
The Mike Lange quote above, well we’ll be focusing on the first three parts. Before we begin what is sure to give us all high blood pressure and a visceral reaction to anything orange, let’s remember and appreciate what this team has accomplished.
Twelve years ago, a young and hungry corps of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang strode into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with visions of what would be the first of many championships to begin a modern day dynasty. They were quickly bounced in five games by a more experienced, more seasoned Ottawa team.
One year later they’d dispatch of the Senators, Rangers and Flyers in a total of just 14 games, compiling a record of 12-2. They would meet the nearly dynastic Detroit Red Wings in a Stanley Cup Final that was nowhere near as close as the 4-2 series final would lead you to believe.
Then, in 2009, this group defied the odds and won Pittsburgh’s first Stanley Cup championship since 1992, slaying the team that taught them their most valuable lesson one year prior.
From 2010-2015 we saw no shortage of drama. Whether it was Mike Cammalleri being the ultimate villain in 2010, a Crosby-Malkin-less team in 2011, the trip back to the 70s against the Flyers in 2012, Iginla & and the goddamn Bruins in 2013 and then the Rangers for two years.
Fleury, Caron, Johnson, Vokoun, Zatkoff, Murray, Bylsma, Johnston, Sullivan, Neal, Morrow, Kennedy and so many others were celebrated and agonized over.
We saw the Secret Service Save. Talbot shushing Philadelphia. Malkin beating down Carolina worse than the Union in Bentonville. Sidney Crosby breaking the will of the entire capital of Canada. A now friend once send his future mates home early.
That’s more than most fanbases experience in 20 years. It also doesn’t mention two Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017.
For 12 years, postseason hockey has become just another one of the seasons in Pittsburgh. This is the Golden Age. Stop and appreciate it a little bit before your BP spikes tonight.
Tonight begins the chance to accomplish something that Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky couldn’t do.
Remember the success, but never lose the fire.