All good things must come to an end.
Somebody once said that. For the 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins, the good times came to an end in the ugliest way possible.
Two goals in four games, no goals on the power play, and getting swept by a Boston Bruins team that many, even those in Boston, predicted would be eliminated by this stacked Penguins team. But not even that kind of talent could pull it together against Boston, and shocked the hockey world in six days. The hockey Gods must rest on the seventh day as well.
So, here the Pittsburgh Penguins stand. After a Stanley Cup championship in 2009, the Penguins have been a force in the Eastern Conference...during the regular season, but have failed to make a splash in the playoffs since 2010. This years playoff run was the longest since 2009, but with the talent Ray Shero brought in toward the end of a lockout shortened season, it was a once in a lifetime accumulation of talent that included captains from Calgary and Dallas. The Penguins became every betting mans favorite to take the Stanley Cup by April.
Although it was the Bruins who drove the final nail into the coffin, the Penguins were facing tough questions about their team going forward as early as Game 1 of the Ottawa series. Marc-Andre Fleury became casualty number one in the quarterfinals against the Islanders after another bad start to the playoffs. Game 4 of that series could be his final start in the black and gold, and when Shero stuck with Vokoun after the Pens 6-1 loss in Game 2, the exodus of Fleury was in full effect. With the final shot by Jarome Iginla into the hot glove hand of Tuukka Rask in Game 4, it was the last time fans would see that group on the ice together.
No doubt the men behind the bench, Dan Bylsma and his whole staff is on the hot seat, but the guys on the ice face different futures as well.
With so many unrestricted and few restricted free agents, line combinations will look very different for the 2013-2014 season.
Iginla, Morrow, Cooke, Dupuis and Adams are your unrestricted free agent forwards entering the summer.. Murray and Eaton defensively and next year won't be better.
Penguins Salary Chart
If the 2013 offseason isn't hard enought to swallow, 2014 will come with harder decisions in 2014. Your key UFA players in 2014 include Malkin, Orpik, Letang and Kunitz. You know that Shero will have to give two of those guys new contracts. Norris candidate Kris Letang did nothing to improve his chances at a new deal. So if the band is getting broken up this summer, next summer might be tougher to deal with.
So, pour a cold one for these Pittsburgh Penguins. You'll never see them all together ever again.
As Boyz II Men said: "It's so hard, to say goodbye, to yesterday."