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Insider Only Key ingredient of Penguins Stanley Cup Run – Having The best “grinder” in the world

FullSizeRender (8)“He’s the best grinder in the world.”

That’s what Carl Hagelin said Sunday night about Sidney Crosby on NBCSN after Crosby had carried the Conn Smythe trophy around a few minutes earlier.

Having the best grinder in the world is obviously a good thing to have because winning the Stanley Cup is the biggest grind in sports.

NBC analyst Keith Jones, who, despite being accused of hating the Penguins and Crosby, does an excellent job, agreed with Hagelin.

Maybe Crosby winning the trophy that goes to the most valuable player in the playoffs, after scoring no goals in the Final, will be a clue for the hopelessly clueless who measure him only by goals.

There are lots of things to learn from the Penguins winning their fourth Stanley Cup.

Many of those things should have been learned a long time ago.

It’s a long season.

If the Penguins don’t look quite so unbeatable in December, remember how bad this team looked last December and maybe it won’t be the coach’s fault

Expect a hangover, and not just because their stars might be tired after playing 106 NHL games and then going to training camps for their World Cup teams two months later.

The Penguins were playing big games for five months. They were out of a playoff spot and then were playing for seeding before starting their two month, 24 game playoff run/grind.

Maybe you noticed that they played with amazing speed, energy and intensity just about every time out.

Will you be surprised if they don’t seem all that interested in a game against the Winnipeg Jets in November?

You don’t know how good a young player can be if you don’t give him a chance.

Where would the Penguins be without the young players who started the season in Wilkes-Barre?

Would they have been an even better team if their youngest player, Daniel Sprong had been kept on the roster instead of being sent back to junior hockey?

Sprong is fast and has a wicked shot. Mike Sullivan will probably be happy to turn him loose and see how he fits in his system that depends so much on speed and a willingness to shoot the puck.

Age probably isn’t a factor for an NHL General Manager. Unless maybe he’s a little too young.

Remember when Jim Rutherford was too old to be the Penguins GM after he got snookered on that Phil Kessel deal?

The Trevor Daly and Carl Hagelin trades made him look a lot younger. Now he’s the first GM since three years before he was born -67 years ago – to manage multiple teams to championships since the Penguins came into existence in the 1967 expansion.

Maybe some credit should be given to Mario Lemieux for hiring him.

Nobody made Rutherford look smarter than Kessel.

It didn’t show up for a few months but by the time the playoffs started he was doing exactly what Rutherford thought he would do.

In the playoffs, he made teams pay for paying a little too much attention to Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

-Something else we learned from the Penguins winning the Cup : Salary caps work. The Penguins are in great company with their four Stanley Cups.

The Edmonton Oilers (5) and the New York Islanders are the only other franchises with four Cup winners since expansion.

Have you noticed how much smarter the two Pittsburgh teams that play in leagues with a salary cap seem to be?

There was no salary cap when the Penguins won their first two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Maybe you remember that paying for all of those superstars put the franchise into bankruptcy.

Enjoy this championship.

They are rare.

Did you think back in 2009 that you’d be waiting seven years for the next Stanley Cup parade?

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About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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