It was perhaps one of the best Stanley Cup runs in recent memory. In the early part of June the Pittsburgh Penguins ousted the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to become Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since the early '90s.
As the old saying goes however, all good things must come to an end. And end it did. It began with Hal Gill not coming back and heading to Montreal to play with a team the Penguins sometimes struggle against during the regular season.
Then came Rob Scuderi. He, in many fan's oppinion was one they would keep, but after a few weeks the sad news arrived that Scuderi had been sent to Los Angeles with a four year contract with the Kings awaiting him.
Petr Sykora, known for ability to sneak a shot past when you least expect it, will be another name that will not return to the Penguins for the 2009-10 hockey season. The reason however is one that many fans did not see coming. Bad blood with a coach never leads to anything positive, and Dan Bylsma for some reason did not mix well with the Penguin forward.
Sykora explained the situation to the media, telling them that several years back as teammates, Bylsma was a fourth liner and he was normally on the first line. Well Sykora did not take well to a former fourth liner telling him what to do. As of now, it is difficult to say how much Sykora's impact will be missed.
On the positive side however, Penguin GM Ray Shero did manage to keep Billy Guerin in Pittsburgh for another season. Guerin was a valuable veteran leader both in the lockerroom and on the ice after he was acquired in the trade from New York.
Ruslan Fedetanko is also another big name Pittsburgh fans can look forward to seeing around for the upcoming season. The Penguin forward had a great second half of the season and no doubt played a signifcant role as the team marched toward the Cup.
Other names the Penguins will be bringing back include back-up goaltender John Curry and Craig Adams who had three goals and two assists since coming in from Chicago.
Ray Shero has also brought in some new talent, and possibly some new weapons to add to Pittsburgh's already extensive arsenal.
Defenseman Jay McKee was brought in shortly after the organization failed to keep Hal Gill. Many say however, McKee should have no trouble filling Gill's shoes.
Michael Rupp was one of the first new names added to the roster since the offseason started. Rupp finished this last seaon with the Devils scoring three goals and six assists. He ended the season a -2. I personally am looking forward to see what Rupp can do and how he fits into the Peguin lineup.
More recent additions include a backup netminder for Marc-Andre Fleury. Brent Johnson, a 32 year old, will put on the pads and mind the net if needed this up and coming season. He finished the '08-'09 season with the Washington Capitals. There he ended with a 2.63 Goals Against Average and a .908 Save Percentage. His career average is .903. Not a bad back up for current Penguin star Marc-Andre Fleury if you ask me.
Two other new names are Wyatt Smith and Wade Brookbank.
Smith played this last season in the AHL, scoring 19 goals. He also racked up 71 penalty minutes.
Wade Brookbank played with the Carolina Hurricans this last season where he sent in one goal and 40 penalty minutes in 27 games. He also played 24 games in the AHL with Norfolk. There, he registered one assist and 46 penalty minutes.
Would I have liked to see Sykora and Scuderi back with the team for this season? You can bet I would. Hal Gill? I think he is replaceable. I am excited that Fedetanko was able to stick around and am looking forward to watching Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby together for another season.
Taking all this, plus the additions I mentioned above, all of whom I am anxious to see in action; I have given the Penguins a B- grade for the summer.