Revitalizing the Pittsburgh Penguins for one more shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup has been the quest of the offseason for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. As the remaining core members, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang reach their mid-30s, and the inevitable slowdown is on the horizon, the Penguins core has already won three Stanley Cups, but the organization’s motto might as well be, “One More.”
The odds are overwhelmingly against the Penguins. It just hasn’t been done before. No team in the modern expansion era has found a way to have a third act. In fact, the Penguins are the first team in the salary cap era to have even a second act.
Even Rutherford wondered aloud if his team could find the necessary attitude and desire to win it all, again.
“(Crosby) is going to give all he’s got, and he will drive to win as many Stanley cups as he can. You wonder about guys, they have won two, three Cups, and they have a great legacy already,” Rutherford told a podcast with Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun last month. “You still want to win, but do you still have that same drive as when you were trying to win the first one. And the second one. And the third. I sit there and wonder sometimes.”
As the Penguins reach the homestretch before the draft and the NHL free-agent frenzy, Rutherford has given every indication he wants to make changes. Still, trades take two willing participants, and participating in free agency requires money.
Rutherford needs the former to get to the latter, but that’s only the first part of the battle.