Tuesday, 05.26.2009 / 11:25 PM / Conference Finals: Pittsburgh vs. Carolina
By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Managing Editor
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Forget tradition. Sidney Crosby is ready to create his own legacy for these Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bucking years of superstitious belief, Crosby happily pulled the Prince of Wales Trophy out of the hands of NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and posed for pictures holding the trophy -- even calling alternate captains Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin to join in.
For years, such behavior around the trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champion was considered taboo. The thinking went something like this: Why celebrate with the conference championship trophy when there is a bigger trophy still up for grabs. The superstitious lot actually believed it was bad luck -- and poor form -- to be caught touching said trophy, and more than one captain in the past decade has gone to great lengths to limit exposure.
Crosby himself avoided the trophy like the plague last spring after his team beat the Philadelphia Flyers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. But such restraint and conformity to the old-school way of thinking didn't pay off as the Pens lost to Detroit in a six-game Final.
"We didn't touch the trophy last year, and obviously we didn't have the result we wanted," Crosby said. "We figured we'd touch it this year. Although we haven't accomplished exactly what we want, we still accomplished something here. You know, we can still enjoy it."
Crosby, the team's captain, did not make the decision unilaterally. Clearly it was an idea he toyed with once the realization came after Game 3 that Pittsburgh would ultimately win the Eastern Conference Finals, but it did not crystallize until he asked veteran Bill Guerin.
"We didn't touch the trophy last year, and obviously we didn't have the result we wanted," Crosby said. "We figured we'd touch it this year. Although we haven't accomplished exactly what we want, we still accomplished something here. You know, we can still enjoy it." -- Sidney Crosby on his decision to forget tradition and touch the Prince of Wales Trophy
Fortunately, Guerin doesn't have a superstitious bone in his body. After all, this is a man who chose No. 13 for his sweater number.
"It has nothing to do with hockey," Guerin said of the trophy tradition.
The Penguins were following the lead of their brash captain and a 38-year-old, who as a 24-year-old with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 lifted the Stanley Cup -- the Stanley Cup every Penguin now believes is within his reach.
"I think we over-think everything," center Jordan Staal said. "It's a great thing to win this trophy, you know?"
Pittsburgh Penguins Eastern Conference Champs GearIt is a great thing for the Penguins, who were the fourth seed in the East, to win this trophy again -- almost a year to the day after winning it last year.
But make no mistake; Crosby does not think that the quest for himself or his team is complete just because he has a photographic keepsake of what Pittsburgh has accomplished by sending home Philadelphia, Washington and the Hurricanes.
He's not even close to done.
"Might as well grab it and get a picture with it and move on," he said of his thought process, "and go after the one we really want."
That, of course, is the Stanley Cup; a trophy nobody has a problem touching.