Pittsburgh Penguins' Fan 2008-2009 Diary

Jeffery StonerCorrespondent IApril 15, 2009

PITTSBURGH - MARCH 25: Head coach Dan Bylsma of the PIttsburgh Penguins addresses the media after the Penguins defeated the Calgary Flames 2-0 on March 25, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

I've always wondered how historians figure out the things they do. 

How does someone compare two records that are meaningless to me and draw enough conclusions for a 90 minute piece on the History Channel?  What records am I leaving behind that will give people a clue as to what life was like in this decade?

Hopefully, no one will ever find anything of mine and try to draw any logical conclusions.  The same should be said of any true sports fan; we're just too hard to pin down to any one opinion, stance, or decision for very long.

With that in mind, here is a sample of the diary with monthly entries of a fictitious Penguin fan for the past season.  If you're still around in 100 years, see if you can find references in some documentary.

September 30th

Dear Diary:

With the NHL season ready to start, I’ve never been more excited for the Pens.  After the experience of going to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the boys are ready to take the next step. 

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We lost Marian Hossa, but signed Miroslav Satan.  I predict he’ll replace most of Hossa’s scoring, and be the best off-season signing in the Eastern Conference. 

We went 4-0-1 in the preseason, but Sergei Gonchar got injured in the Lightning game.  Looks like Barry Melrose is going to have that team back in contention.  It might be a tough road without Gonchar, but this team should still be the class of the Atlantic Division.

October 31st:

Dear Diary:

Things are off to a rougher start than I thought at 5-4-2.  We split with Ottawa in Stockholm, and then it didn’t get much smoother when we got back to the New World.

Satan is leading the team in goals with five.  I knew he’d be a great weapon on the first line.  I also like the fact that Coach Therrien is awarding the “A” to different players each month; it's a good way to keep the kids motivated through a long season.  Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin will start with it, and they definitely deserve it.

November 30th:

Dear Diary:

Things are back on track, and the Pens are the team to beat in the East.  We went 9-2-1 in November, and did it without Marc-Andre Fleury for a long stretch.  It’s been the best November anyone around here can remember.  Flower is still out for another week or so, but Dany Sabourin and John Curry have played well in goal in his place. 

The highlight of the month had to be Jordan Staal’s third period hat trick in the come-from-behind win against the Red Wings in Detroit.  Staal got his third with just a minute left to force overtime, and then got a takeaway and an assist on the game winner.

In addition to Staal’s hat trick, both Malkin and Sidney Crosby got hat tricks in the last week of the month.

The record could have been even better, but an overtime loss to Minnesota came on a bad bounce.  Our new face-off specialist, Mike Zigomanis won a draw so cleanly that it went into the Pens' net without any other player touching it.  Hopefully that’s the low point of the season. 

Satan is still playing a decent game, but has been on the second line.  He’s in a bit of a scoring slump, but I’m sure he’ll break out of it.

Therrien gave Rob Scuderi the “A’s” this month, but it could have gone to anyone.  Start planning the parade route now; the Cup is coming home!!!

December 31st:

Dear Diary:

It appears I was premature in my parade planning comment.  The powerplay is a disaster, and the Pens just finished the month of December at 5-8-1. 

Fleury came back from his injury, and Ryan Whitney made his debut on the 23rd.  Zigomanis, Gill, Scuderi, and just about the whole blueline spend time in the pressbox with various injuries.

Satan is not recovering and is spending time on the third line.  Hopefully when we get Whitney back at 100 percent, we can take the rookie Goligoski off of the powerplay.  Whitney will be the key to our recovery, and I still think we’re a contender in the East.

Staal and Cooke wore the “A’s”, but probably because they were the only two healthy bodies.  Crosby and Malkin were both elected starters in the All-Star Game, making it one of the few highlights of the month.

January 31st:

Dear Diary:

It’s official: the season is quickly circling the drain.  Another 5-8-1 month has us in 10th place and not playing well enough to threaten Carolina or Florida in front of us.

Whitney has done nothing to improve the powerplay, and may have found a miraculous way to make it even worse.  I guess Gonchar will have to improve it when he comes back next month. 

The team is not good enough for the playoffs, and not bad enough to make a run for John Tavares or any other top draft pick.  It’s unfortunate that it’s already time to start looking forward to next year.

Satan is still getting too much playing time on the second, third, and fourth lines.  I knew that signing was a disaster from the day it was announced.  At least it’s only for one year, and he can float for someone else next year.

The “A’s” went to Petr Sykora and Ryan Whitney, not that it mattered.  There’s no leadership at all on this club.  It all went to Tampa and Detroit in the off-season.

How about those Steelers?

March 4th

Dear Diary:

Sorry I’m a few day late with this entry, but I wanted to see what happened at the trade deadline.  A lot of people thought we would be trading Jordan Staal, but that ended up not happening.

We traded Ryan Whitney to the Ducks for a top prospect, Eric Tangradi, and they threw in Chris Kunitz.  Kunitz actually looked pretty good playing with Jordan Staal, but he’ll be on Crosby’s line for the remainder of the season.  We also got Bill Guerin from the Islanders for a conditional pick.  It will probably be a fifth rounder, as we are still not expected to make the playoffs.

The month started like January began.  We couldn’t beat anyone, and lost to some bad teams.  On the 15th, we fired Michel Therrien and hired some Minor League coach in our system named Dan Bylsma.  It looks like he’s just a placeholder until a big name is hired in the offseason.

Gonchar is finally back and the powerplay looks a lot better.  It’s not scoring goals or anything, but you can at least tell which team is shorthanded without looking at the small timer that is inset in the corner of the television screen. 

Still, there is a new energy in Mellon Arena.  We were 4-1 to finish the month.  It might be a short-term boost that often accompanies any kind of coaching change, but it should be a fun ride. 

Satan has been sent to the minors for the rest of the season, likely to return in the playoffs.  No one noticed. 

Malkin and Gonchar were both awarded a permanent “A”.  Malkin is leading the league in scoring, and is in good shape to beat out Ovechkin for the title.

The Pirates are getting ready for Spring Training. How long until Opening Day?

March 31st

Dear Diary:

Holy cow, what a month!!!  We went 10-1-2, and are in good shape for a playoff birth.  Lots of fans are hopping back on the bandwagon, but I knew we were playoff-bound all year.

There are no guarantees, as the Rangers, Hurricanes, Habs, Sabres, Panthers, and Pens are all battling for four spots.  The Sabres and Habs are both battling injuries, so if we take care of business we can make a run.

This Kunitz guy can flat out play hockey.  Guerin adds a bit of veteran leadership, and Gonchar had the effect of a big deadline signing when he returned.  Jordan Staal is living up to his new $4 million per year contract and we have more depth at the forward spot that anyone in the league. 

We’re not the best team in the league by any stretch, but we’re definitely the hottest and whoever the best teams are, they don’t want to play the Penguins.

April 12th

Dear Diary:

Today ended an exciting regular season.  The Rangers beat the Flyers, so amazingly the playoffs will open in Mellon Arena.  The Penguins went 4-1-1 in April, and got the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

The powerplay is getting a little better, but is still not where it needs to be.  Fleury has been solid, but might be tired after only taking a few games off since February.  The penalty kill has been excellent of late, and generated two short-handed goals in the season finale.

Malkin won the scoring title, and is a leading candidate for the MVP.  Satan is back on the big club, but isn’t likely to play unless there is an injury. 

Time to get ready for the playoffs.  I stopped shaving after we clinched the playoff birth, and hope to have the same playoff beard I had last June.  Go Pens!!!!