June 12th, 2009


PENS WIN after Crosby goes down

Instead of the Red Wings becoming the NHL's first repeat champion since they won consecutive titles in 1997 and 1998, this turned into a Penguins party for the first time sice now-team owner Mario Lemieux captained them to championships in 1991 and '92.

From the Sporting News- Craig Custance  www.sportingnews.com

The severity of the injury was clear as Sidney Crosby struggled to get off the ice in the second period. A punishing check from Johan Franzen sent Crosby into the boards. He jumped to avoid it, but the hit pinned Crosby's knee between Franzen's hip and the ledge with the boards meet the glass.

While a Joe Louis Arena crowd cheered loudly as Crosby inched his way to the bench, the realization started to sink in that this Game 7 wouldn't play out like the Stanley Cup-winning game Crosby had dreamed about.

"I took my skate off and tried to move it around," Crosby said. "I couldn't really walk."

All the painkillers and grit in the world couldn't change reality. After a short shift in the third period, Crosby realized he couldn't stop or turn.

It was then that Crosby made the gutsiest decision a captain can make. He was going to watch the rest of the way as his teammates tried to win a Stanley Cup without him.

It was tempting to go out there and play while injured. But that would have hurt his teammates more than anything. It could have cost them a championship.

"I knew playing against guys like (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, I couldn't afford to make one wrong step," Crosby said. "I just had to stick with it and watch it from there."

As painful as the knee injury was, not playing in the final minutes of the biggest game of his life was worse.

It was excruciating.

"Being a captain and seeing what the guys are doing out there, blocking shots," Crosby said. "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 ... hurting your team by being out there."

Maxime Talbot noticed Crosby's pain. During the second intermission, Talbot said it was pretty clear the chances of him returning were slim.

"He was pretty down," Talbot said.

It wasn't talked about much, but it didn't need to be. The Penguins had to win this game. They couldn't let the player who led them to this point sit and watch a loss.

"He knew that we could do it," Talbot said. "I'm proud to say that we did it in a big part for him."

A Stanley Cup championship was deemed Crosby's destiny even before he skated a shift in the NHL. But there is no anointing a Stanley Cup -- it can only be earned.

Reaching the moment where he raised that silver trophy above his head is something Crosby has been working toward since arriving as a teenager. He knew more than most that this wasn't about destiny. It was about drive.

"Every day he thinks about hockey, everything he does is about hockey," Talbot said. "He loves the game. And you know what? Today is so special to win that for him -- with him."

$20 futures bet made at the Palms Casino on April 8 returns $260 to the Wolf when he returns to Vegas on Sunday!