Have the Penguins Been Rewarded for Being the NHL's Worst Team?

Jack thetravellerCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

While everyone and their mother , especially the folks down at NBC, has jumped on the Pittsburgh Penguins bandwagon I most certainly have not.

It has absolutely nothing to do with Sidney Crosby’s perceived whining or "jibber jabber"*  I love the guy and would relish an opportunity to see him in a red, black and white Devil uniform.  The guy’s a horse. 

Nor has it anything to do with Brooks Orpik’s proud place as the NHL’s dirtiest player.  Eric Cole and Tuomo Ruutu would certainly attest to my sentiments; anyone catch the two blatant “knee on knees” in game one against the Canes?  Nor does it have anything to do with my disdain for Malkin’s game, Fleury’s personality….

It actually has nothing to do with any one particular Penguin player, simply the manner in which they've been acquired. 

Unlike the Redwings who built their squad with Håkan Andersson's brilliant eye and Ken Holland’s unmatched decision making, taking Pavel Datsyuk at 171st overall, Johan Franzen with the 97th pick, and Henrik Zetterberg, in the 7th round of the Entry Draft at an astonishing 210th; the Pengins were gifted the core of their team due to their failures throughout the early and mid noughties. 

One can say, “but Marian Hossa was a free agent pickup”.  Agreed but the Wings won without him in 2008 and he is certainly not the reason they’re likely to repeat this playoffs.  Brian Rafalski another significant pickup, was signed away from the New Jersey Devils due to his love for his hometown and desire to play for his childhood team, not a reward for poor play. 

The core of the best team in hockey is one that’s been engineered by astuteness of the Red Wings hockey machine. 

The core of the Penguin’s were simply gifts for being the league’s worst team for so many years.  Both Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury were taken at number one, first overall, selections awarded to the teams with the worst record in the NHL in the preceding campaign; and Evgeni Malkin with the second overall choice. 

Just how bad were the Penguins during this period?  

Season      W  L    T      P   GF    GA

2001–02    28 41  8-5   69  198   249
2002–03    27 44  6-5   65  189   255
2003–04    23 47  8-4   58  190   303
2005–06    22 46   14   58  244   316

Reward for a failure to make the playoffs for five straight years; reward for being one if the leagues worst teams should most certainly not come in the form of Lord Stanley's Cup.  

Face it folks, Crosby, Malkin and Fleury were gifts for chronic failure.  If one were to take any one of those three players away the Penguins now, my guess is the Pens would hardly be any better than a first round flop. 

Teams such as the Avalanche and Stars, even the Devils to a certain extent are now suffering, for all intents and purposes being punished, for their consistency and regular season successes.  This my fellow hockey fans is an inequality that needs to cease.  Everyone should have an equal opportunity in the draft.  Being rubbish should most certainly not be rewarded.      

What I respect is teams that are able to consistently stay a top the leagues standings despite poor placement in the draft; what I respect is the Detroit Red Wings.      

*-A shameful Boston Legal reference. 

Note-I am not a Detroit Red Wing supporter, nor am I cheering for them to repeat as champions.  I welcome all feedback, noth positive and negative. 

Just received a comment from Adam Greuel.  He believes "that at the very least you shouldn't get a top 3 pick more then once in a three year span or so because usually there is huge talents in those spots and then it drops off a bit."  Any thoughts? 


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