It’s hard to believe that if the Detroit Red Wings win tonight’s Game 6 of the 2009 Stanley Cup final, or finish off the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Game 7 Friday, four members of the Wings will have their names etched on the Stanley Cup for the fifth time.
Kirk Maltby, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and Kris Draper form that astonishing group. And while all four might be back in Motown for another run at the Cup next year (and maybe even the year after), this is something you’re really never going to see again. It’s just to difficult to both win the Cup (once, let alone multiple times) and keep a team together with free agency and the salary cap combining to cause a constant shuffle of personnel between teams.
Even if the Boston Bruins return next spring to win the Cup, could you ever imagine four members of the current team still being in black and gold a decade later and in pursuit of a fifth title? Age and the salary cap will make sure that won’t happen in Boston, just as it won’t happen in Pittsburgh, Chicago or Washington — even with the solid core of young talent those franchises currently possess.
A victory would give Lidstrom not only a fifth Cup, but his second as a European-born captain. He became the first non-North American ‘C’-wearer to hoist the Cup last season and his Hall-of-Fame resumé just keeps getting richer. Lidstrom epitomizes not just what the Wings organization has been about for more than a decade, but also what the team on the ice has meant last year and this. None other than former captain Steve Yzerman, now the club’s vice president, threw some potent verbal bouquets at this current Wings team.
“We’ve seen it from this group for three years. Their resilience. Their confidence. … There are no big egos,” Yzerman told the Detroit News. “They don’t say a lot. They come to practice and work hard. And then they put together a performance that really comes from within them.”
Of course, counting on the Wings making history is jumping a little too ahead at this point. They still have to get the job done against a Pittsburgh team that knows it has to play its best game yet to stave off elimination. The Wings weren’t able to solve the Pens the first two times the teams played at Mellon Arena this series, so the challenges keep coming at Detroit as rapidly as the chances to make history. Something tells me the Wings will meet the challenge.