Well, now you’ve got to give Sidney Crosby credit for doing more than just emerging as a face the NHL can sell its game on and being a point-producing superstar that could finish his career with a boatload of individual and team trophies by the time his career ends.
Crosby finally did away with the useless tradition of the conference winner not touching the trophy after clinching a Stanley Cup semifinal series victory because the “only goal in the Stanley Cup.” Last night, after Pittsburgh downed Carolina, 4-1, to complete a four-game sweep, Crosby hoisted the Prince of Wales Trophy and then skated off with it with his teammates.
“We just wanted to change things up,” Crosby said. “We didn’t touch it last year. Might as well grab it and get a picture with it and move on and go after the one we really want.”
Let’s hope this trend continues for the foreseeable future. The Detroit Red Wings, one win away from capturing the West title, are too old school to break tradition. So don’t expect to see captain Nicklas Lidstrom hoisting any trophies not named after Lord Stanley. But if Chicago comes back in this season’s Western Conference finals, or any of the up-and-coming clubs earn a berth to the Cup final in the years ahead, let’s hope they follow Crosby’s lead. That includes you, Zdeno Chara, if you in your role as Boston Bruins captain get to be part of such a celebration in the spring of 2010 or 2011.
Crosby, who didn’t score a goal in Game 4 but set up Bill Guerin’s back-breaking goal, and the Pens are now headed back to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost to Detroit last season. The Red Wings could be the opponent again, and some Penguins players are hoping to get another crack at the defending champs.
Although it was a foregone conclusion Pittsburgh would win the series after taking a three-games-to-none lead, the bounces in Game 4 made it easier to complete the sweep. Max Talbot’s goal deflected into the air and eluded Cam Ward’s glove, a sure sign the Penguins were destined to repeat as conference champs.
There’s still a chance Chicago could win three straight and create a rematch of the 1992 Cup final, but more likely Detroit will finish off the Blackhawks. And history shows that the Wings of the modern era rarely lose in the finals, as they’ve won the last four times they’ve played for the Cup. But Crosby & Co. are all about breaking traditions these days, aren’t they?