The idea of the Penguins repeating this year as Stanley Cup Champions took a major blow this week. The announcement that Kris Letang would not be returning for the Stanley Cup Playoffs made the idea of the Penguins repeating as Stanley Cup Champs a very unlikely possibility. With that in mind, if the Penguins cannot repeat as champs, what is the Penguin fan to do? The following guide outlines potential Stanley Cup Champions outside of the Pens and ranks the potential winners from the entirely distasteful to the somewhat palpable teams that, deep down, we all feel sorry for.
Group A: The Unacceptable: These three teams should be kept from the Cup at all costs. Their victory is unwanted, and their defeats are celebrated. Rooting for these teams is entirely unacceptable.
- A Washington Capitals Stanley Cup would be the single worst result of the 2016-2017 season. Chanting “you have no Cups” is perhaps the single greatest thing Penguins fans can do. It is in the pantheon of great taunts, it does not deserve to go the way of the dodo or the “1940” chant.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets are not winners. They never have and never will be. A Blue Jackets victory would rock the Penguins fan base to the core. This would be extremely unfortunate.
- A New York Rangers victory would be extremely unpleasant. It has been said that 1994 would last a lifetime, let us all do our part to make it so.
Group B: The Annoying: A Stanley Cup Victory for these teams would be tolerable, yet a large percentage of their players, their fan base, or the media covering these teams would make a Stanley Cup victory extremely annoying to kind-hearted Penguins fans, nationwide. Rooting for these teams will annoy fellow Penguins fans and would represent a highly questionable life decision.
- Penguins fans are largely still annoyed with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins swept the Pens in the Conference Final in 2013, and have largely seemed to have the Penguins number ever since. Boston is also terrible, and is, for all intents and purposes, Philadelphia with more snow. Rooting for the Bruins would be regrettable, unless it was against teams 1-3.
- Sure, rooting for Auston Matthews is fun. He is an American. He is fun. He is flashy. It is easy to get seduced by his great looks and sexy play the same way Sidney Crosby brought you into the fold years ago. But be warned! A Leafs Stanley Cup victory would be celebrated with more pageantry than the moon landing. Everything about a Leafs championship and their legions of fans singing their praises would be annoying.
- The Montreal Canadiens would similarly represent a team whose championship would be shoved down the throats of anyone who would listen and would only represent a slightly more tolerable victory than the Leafs.
- The Senators really are not a solid pick for anyone with Penguins loyalties. Sure it is fun to watch Erik Karlsson, but the rest of the team is full of players that just are not worth rooting for by anyone with solid moral sensibilities, like Chris Neal and Alex Burrows.
Group C: The mostly indifferent: A Stanley Cup Victory for A Western Conference Team is always the best option if the Pens are out of it. From most objectionable to least heinous here are the contenders:
- The Chicago Blackhawks have won enough. They represent the worst choice for the Penguins fan to root for among all of the Western Conference teams
- Remember last year when the Pens smoked the San Jose Sharks? Remember when the Pens were supposed to win it at home in Pittsburgh and Martin Jones ruined the party? That is reason enough to not root for the Sharks.
- The Predators have James Neal. He was a solid Penguin. P.K. Subban is fun to watch. Other than that, this is a team full of players that are pretty vanilla.
- The Minnesota Wild are simply a boring team. Also, Zach Parise will always be a Devil to this writer.
- The St. Louis Blues are also a boring team. Mike Yeo is their coach and Zach Parise is not on their team. That easily gives them the edge over the Wild.
- There really is not a lot of terrible thoughts Penguins fans should have about the Ducks. Sure, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are not exactly nice guys, but otherwise they are a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread level of indifferent.
- Rooting for the Flames would be acceptable. Also, Johnny Gaudreau is fun to watch.
- Rooting for the Oilers would be acceptable. Frankly, who does not feel bad for Oiler fans at this point? Also, Connor McDavid is fun to watch.
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