Ladies and gentlemen, the image that launched a thousand Reebok and NHL marketing campaigns ...
The Pittsburgh Penguins are your 2009 Stanley Cup champions, 2-1 winners over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7. They earned it with dynamic victories in early round tests against the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. They earned it by rallying from 2-0 and then from 3-2 in the Cup Finals against the Wings.
They earned it in a Game 7 tonight that featured two goals from the ever-unsung Max Talbot, outstanding goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury (in both performance and good fortune) and an overall effort that, like in their Game 6 win, put the Wings in a hole and limited them to about 20 minutes of hockey the now-former champs would have considered quality.
Evgeni Malkin, with 14 goals and 36 points, wins the Conn Smythe for MVP.
We'll have much more on this series victory later. You'll hear plenty about new eras dawning and torches being passed; but as Bettman said through the boos, it takes a champion to beat one. Perhaps we're simply seeing the best team in hockey for the 2008-09 season winning out in the end.
Despite what Marian Hossa thought of them.
Of course, how was he supposed to know about the Lucky Byslma Burrito? Or Bylsma, for that matter ...
From the NHL's media site and FastScripts by ASAP Sports:
Q. Questionable for the parade, Sid?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No, No, 100%. 100% go (smiling).
Q. How does it feel?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It's a dream come true. It's everything you imagined and more. I would have loved to do it in four, it would have been a lot easier on the nerves. It was so hard watching the clock tick down for that whole third period. But everything it took to win, we did it, you know. Blocking shots, great goaltending, different guys stepping up. I mean, we did exactly everything it takes to win. We're really happy with the result. We've been through a lot.
Q. Talking to your teammates and your coach before, you have been in a unique situation, you were preordained really to do what you did tonight since you were 13 or 14 you were supposed to win a Stanley Cup, and you do it tonight. Can you talk about what the satisfaction is after having all the expectations? You have expectations because you're a great player, there is an upside and down side, can you talk about what it means to finally do this?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It means so much. It's even way beyond that. It's all the sacrifices that people make so you can get to this point, and my parents. It's the coaches you have along the way. It's the people that influence you. These things are all things that, you think about. You go through today, for example, you're preparing for a Game 7 Stanley Cup Final, and that's the only thing I could think about is all these people who are watching, and all these people I wanted to do it for personally.
Besides that the guy next to you, the guys that have fought so hard to get to this point. You see a guy like Billy Guerin, he won it, but it was 14 years ago. It's scary to think that we've got another chance, another crack at it; and we did the most we could with that opportunity. So it was just about ceasing the opportunity, and doing what we could with it.
Q. When you draw this up in your mind you don't spend the third period on the bench or all but one shift. How difficult was that third period for you?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It was so painful. I mean, being a captain and seeing what the guys are doing out there blocking shots. Seeing how intense it was, it was even more painful to see it go like that. But you get to a point where you've got to ask yourself whether you're going to be, you know, hurting your team by being out there. And I knew I had everything I could to numb it or try to play through it. But at the same time I'm playing against Datsyuk and Zetterberg. One misstep and I could cost the guys a lot of hard work. I didn't want to be the guy who did that.
So kind of had to sit and wait and watch. But we don't get to this point without everyone contributing, and I knew that guys were going to find a way to pull it off.
Q. Can you take us through the check itself what happened, what got hurt, and what you tried to do to actually get better and get back out there?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I don't know if I chipped the puck or somehow the puck kind of got ahead of me. Franzen kind of finished me. I tried to jump to avoid it, and my knee got jammed between his hip and the dasher, the ledge on the boards. It jammed the out side of my knee. I couldn't walk, really. So I took my skate off and tried to move it around. I couldn't really walk.
So I tried numbing it as much as I could, you know. They gave me as much numbing as they possibly could, and I still couldn't really skate that much. I went out for one shift to try ... I figured I could go out there and maybe spot in once in a while if guys got tired. I knew we had a short bench with me being out, so I tried to spot in a bit. But I couldn't really stop or turn. I knew playing against guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk, I couldn't afford to make one wrong step. I just had to stick with it and watch from there.
Q. How many did you take?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I took one, yeah, and a couple of pain pills, but it's not easy.
Q. What's it like getting a guy like Sergei Gonchar a Stanley Cup ring, finally?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It means so much. There are so many of those stories or there are so many guys who work so hard. You know, I think Gonch that was his third time, I think, to the final. I think with Washington he was there once, with us he was there.
It's so hard. It's amazing to think that both teams got back after last year. It's so hard to get there. For him, he's played in the league a long, long time, and he's been a great player but he hadn't been able to win it to this point. That's something we all realize we can't take for granted.
But it's really fun to see those guys who have been through the league for so long. I think it makes even us younger guys feel that much more fortunate to be part of the group and be part of it.
Q. When you were laboring to get off the ice with your leg dragging almost I don't think you heard all the Detroit fans cheering. I was wondering what your reaction to that is now that I tell you that? I thought it was very disappointing as a Detroiter.
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, when somebody's injured I don't think that's, you know, something to cheer about. But at the same time I've played in a lot of tough buildings, and it wouldn't be something that totally surprises me. You know, they want to see their team win. They see me getting hurt, and maybe they see it as an advantage.
But that's the last thing that was going through my mind is whether or not people were cheering or booing. There was a lot of things going through my mind, but that wasn't one of them.
Q. The Pittsburgh fans certainly found their way into this building and the series. Wanted to see if you could talk about that and you could feel the fans here and how exciting it's going to be to take the Cup back to Pittsburgh?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, no, it's great. We've been lucky. It's always surprising to see not just here but everywhere we go we seem to have a really great following of fans. Whether it's in other American buildings or Canadian buildings. We're really lucky to have a good following. This was the fourth series we had to win on the road in order to finish it off. And that's never easy.
But to always see that little bit of support always helps, but Pittsburgh fans in general have been through a lot. They were through some great years in the '90s when Mario's teams won. But also there were some tough streaks in between there. So they've been so loyal. I think it's been three years in a row now we've sold out pretty much every home game. And they're really deserving of this. So we're really happy we were able to do it.
After last year it was pretty devastating to everybody, them included. But we found a way to claw our way back and finally finish it off.