On the Penguins: Team of the '00s
Clockwise from bottom, Sidney Crosby, Brooks Orpik, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Malone.
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The past 10 seasons have been, in a lot of ways, a microcosm of the Penguins' time in the NHL.
There were seasons -- it must have felt like 100 of them to people in the organization -- when they were anchored at the bottom of the overall standings and lacked the financial resources to even think about being competitive.
But there also were heady times such as the draft lottery in 2005, when the Penguins hit on a 1-in-30 shot at getting the rights to Sidney Crosby, and the spring of 2009, when they earned their third Stanley Cup.
And while a lot of forgettable players have passed through here since the fall of 2000 -- anyone thought much about Patrick Boileau or John Jakopin lately? -- there also have been some guys who left an indelible mark, and they provide the foundation for the Penguins' Team of the 2000s.
The intent, as with the teams from the previous four decades, was not to identify the 12 most talented forwards and six most skilled defensemen, but to assemble a team that follows the rough template of the 2009-10 Penguins:
Two lines counted on to drive the offense, a third that's good at both ends and an "energy line" that blends physicality with responsible defense. The defense pairings are intended to offer a balance of offense and defense.
Players were selected on the basis of their performance for the Penguins during the period of 2000-01 through the present.
Armstrong: Classic third-liner who delivered some crushing checks when he was here.
Cooke: Blends versatility with a nasty edge.
Crosby: Has lived up to the hype that surrounded his arrival in the NHL.
Eaton: Smart and sound, a good fit with an offense-oriented partner.
Fleury: Should end up owning almost every franchise goaltending record.
Gonchar: Overcame miserable start in 2005 to become cornerstone of defense.
Guerin: Has accomplished a lot in just 11 months here.
Hedberg: Became a folk hero during stretch drive and playoffs in 2001.
Kovalev: When he was on his game, few were better.
Kunitz: Fierce forechecker with potential to be a 25-goal man.
Lemieux: The only guy to make the cut in three decades, and at two positions.
Malkin: A pretty nice consolation prize for losing out on Alex Ovechkin.
Malone: Best power forward to come through this franchise in some time.
Morozov: It took a while, but he finally produced to his potential.
Orpik: One of the best hitters ever among Penguins defensemen.
Scuderi: Fearless, if not flashy. The prototype defensive defenseman.
Staal: Has accomplished more by age 21 than most players do in a career.
Talbot: Versatile and hard-working, with a knack for rising to the occasion.
Tarnstrom: Good offensive defenseman on some very bad teams.
Whitney: Excellent puck skills, but played smaller than he is.