The Stanley Cup final between Pittsburgh and Detroit was the first title rematch since the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders met in 1983 and 1984.
Despite the odds gainst defeating the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings, we knew that Pittsburgh would win the cup when Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby hungrily leaned over to accept the Prince of Wales trophy from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes to win the NHL Eastern Conference title in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 26, 2009.
The image was so crystal clear, it mirrored the rhetoric:
"Might as well grab it and get a picture with it and move on" said Crosby adding, "and go after the one we really want."
The stark contrast between kissing the Stanley Cup and reluctantly fondling the Prince of Wales speaks for itself.
On Friday June 12, 2009, the Penguins won the Cup for the first time since Mario Lemieux marched them to championships in 1991 and 92 and if thigs go as planned, this will be the beginning of a new dynasty.
Hockey is the greatest sport in the world because the nuances are so subtle you can have 10 people watching the same game and when it's over, they will all have a different opinion about why the game was won or lost.
In particular, the nuance of what it really takes to defeat a championship team is lost to the point where fleeting appearance frequently produces unsung heroes.
Superstar, Sidney Crosby didn't score the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, he didn't make a big pass or a significant defensive play as expected, he just sat nailed to the bench for the final half of the game when his left knee was crunched against the boards after receiving a controversial, second-period bodycheck from Johan Franzen.
Under these circumstances, it is easy to overlook his contribution, but he demonstrated why he is the leader of the Penguins when he said,
"You get to a point where you've got to ask yourself whether you're going to be hurting your team by being out there. And I knew I had everything I could to numb it or try to play through it. But at the same time, I'm playing against (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg."
Sidney Crosby controlled the entire 3rd period of the Stanley Cup final against Detroit, it was all very deliberate, and he made it quite clear when he said, "One misstep and I could cost the guys a lot of hard work. I didn't want to be the guy who did that."
Sidney Crosby's reverential teamates finished the job, in particular, Max Talbot scored two second-period goals that dashed Detroit's hope to win back-to-back cups.
"You know what, he is our team," said Max Talbot. "He is the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Penguins and I think everybody knows that. If they don't, well I'm telling you, he is our leader. What he brings every day to the rink is special."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, certainly understood how "special" Crosby is because he chose to match Zetterberg against him rather than Malkin, a fairly effective strategy that kept Crosby pointless in five games during the series.
It was generally conceded that the Pens did not have the depth and firepower that was required to defeat the Wings, but they had Sidney Crosby's hunger.
Our prediction that hunger would triumph was ridiculed after the Pens were pounded 5-0 in Detroit, but they came back to win game 6 through sheer grit, when the relentless checking of the Pittsburgh grunts was not as graceful as a picture-perfect goal, but it set the stage for Pittsburgh to overcome all the odds because sidney Crosby was hungry.
The Wings were planning to repeat history but the Pens were determined to make it, and they did, becoming the first to win the title the year after losing in the finals since Edmonton 25 years ago against the Islanders. Crosby has become the youngest captain ever to win the Stanley Cup, he did it on enemy ice, he dethroned the Detroit Dynasty and he is two years younger than the 23 year old, Wayne Gretsky was when the Oilers won their first championship in 1984.