Time is Now for Steelers/Penguins to Win Championships


In this column, I plan on highlighting a specific individual, team, city, etc. and explaining to the public on why they are awesome, or not awesome.  This week’s topic of discussion is how the Penguins and Steelers need to win another Championship soon to avoid squandering a great opportunity.  

Winning is the name of the game when it comes to professional sports.  Every franchise expects to win a championship in their respective sport at one point, otherwise they would not be competing.  Some sports franchises have a higher expectation of winning than others, but still the goal at the end of the year is to be hoisting a championship trophy.

Winning is all relative when it is coming from a fan’s perspective.  A Cleveland Browns or Pittsburgh Pirates fan would merely accept one winning season.  On the other hand, a New York Yankees or a Dallas Cowboys fan expect to win a championship every season.

Although these expectations exist in places such as New York or Dallas, it  does not always make it realistic to expect a championship every season.  Even the best structured franchise has its ups and downs, and they are not always in position to compete for a championship every season.

There have been many well run organizations that had a team in place that was supposed to win multiple championships, but fell short for whatever reason.  Instead of being one of the greatest teams ever, they settled for being a really good team that never fully lived up to their expectations.

In the Sidney Crosby Era, the Penguins have been to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, winning once.  There looks to be plenty more opportunities at capturing Lord Stanley for years to come, but with the way the world works, the Penguins might never get a better shot at winning the cup again compared to this season.

In the Ben Roethlisberger Era, the Steelers have been to three Super Bowls and have won two of them.  The Steelers have been the gold standard for NFL teams for a long time, but there is no reason that this generation of Steelers should not win at least one more Super Bowl.  The NFL has no team that is unbeatable in 2011, and the Steelers are surely on pace to make another appearance this season.

If the Steelers and Penguins fail to win another championship with their current groups of players, they will be known as very good teams that never lived up to their expectations.  Below are a few teams that were built to win multiple championships, but for various reasons, never could deliver more than once.

The trio of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux only managed to win one World Series despite being expected to win many more.

1970s Oakland Raiders:  The Raiders won seven division titles and one Super Bowl in the 70s, but could have won more if it weren’t for the Pittsburgh Steelers dominant run. The franchise would go on to win championships in the 1980s, but not with the coach Madden or the players they had in the 70s.

1990s New York Rangers:  With the likes of Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Brian Leetch, Sergei Zubov, and Alex Kovalev the Rangers seemed poised to win more than one Stanley Cup.  After winning the 1994 Stanley Cup, the Rangers never made it back, missing out on what could have been a multiple cup winning team.

1990s-2005 Atlanta Braves:  Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz.  The Braves were absolutely stacked for a long time, winning 14 division titles, but only one World Series.  After winning in 1995, the Braves never seemed to be able to get back over the hump.  One of the best pitching trios in history somehow only won one championship.

1999-2003 Dallas Stars:  The Stars were loaded, as they presented Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Sergei Zubov, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Joe Nieuwendyk.  The Stars won the cup in 1999, and got back to the championship the following season, but could not put it together to win another cup.

1990s-2007 Green Bay Packers:  Led by Brett Favre, most thought the Packers were destined to win multiple championships.  The Packers won the Super Bowl in 1997, but lost the next year to the Denver Broncos and never made it back after that.

Peyton Manning Era, Indianapolis Colts:  The Colts have won more regular season games than any other NFL team since 2000, but have only one Super Bowl to show for it in 2007.  The Colts made it back to the Super Bowl in 2010, but lost to the Saints on a Peyton Manning interception return for a touchdown.  Now Peyton Manning has missed the entire 2011 season and the  franchise seems to have fallen apart, failing to win a single game yet in 2011.  The Colts were put in such high regards, that it sounded as if they were surely destined to win at least two super bowls in the Manning Era.  Nothing is a guarantee.

All the teams listed above are great teams, but none of them took it to that next level that the dynasty-like teams have done.  The Penguins and Steelers are currently in position to put themselves in a higher class than most organizations.

Focus and Intensity from Coaching Position

Head coaches Dan Bylsma and Mike Tomlin have been able to keep their teams focused on the task at hand--winning.

The one attribute that can set the current Penguins and Steelers apart from all those teams listed above is their head coaches.  These Pittsburgh teams each have a head coach that have a singular focus-winning.  Their players are completely buying into what they are selling, and it shows by the production they are getting.

Dan Bylsma and Mike Tomlin are both young coaches that relate to their players very well, and they are  clearly are not satisfied with winning only one championship.

When Bill Cowher retired, it was one of the best things to ever happen to the Steelers franchise, as Tomlin would instill much-needed focus to a very talented group.  Tomlin has been relentless since taking over in 2007, and does not look to loosen up anytime soon.

Disco Dan Bylsma is fortunate enough to be handling the best hockey player in the world, and a couple of others that are not far behind, but it has not kept him from being as intense as possible.

Steelers Window of Opportunity 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the last 6 seasons, but only one of them has come on Mike Tomlin’s watch.  The Steelers time seems to be running out quicker than the Penguins, but the structure for legitimately winning at least one more championship within the next few seasons is there.  The Steelers have a top five quarterback with unlimited amounts of weapons on offense to go along with an aging, but stiffling defense.

It should not be far fetched for fans to truly expect the Steelers to win a championship this season.  These are not false hopes, as the league lacks a dominant team and the Steelers have shown they are more than capable of beating premiere teams.  The perceived notion that the Steelers should win a Super Bowl every season will never change, as the Rooneys have set the bar so high.  But right now every Steelers fan should feel as if their team is deserving enough to win another championship.

One day someone else is going to make a list similar to the one compiled above, and on that list will be names such as Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Harrison, Ward, Mendenhall, Woodley, Wallace.  It will most likely be a dynasty list and not a failed dynasty list.

Penguins Window of Opportunity

With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin healthy, the Penguins have a real opportunity to add another Stanley Cup this season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a much longer time frame to work with compared to the Steelers, but even with such young talent as Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Letang, Fleury, no opportunities should be squandered.

There are only a couple of teams in the NHL that the Penguins will have a tough seven game series against in 2011.  The Penguins are built from top to bottom to compete with anyone in the league for years to come.  The 2011-2012 edition is by far the deepest, most complete team we have seen in the Crosby Era.

With everyone healthy for the first time in a long time, Penguins fans should absolutely expect a championship from this 2011 team.  Next year or the year after should not be thought about with this team, as nothing is ever a given.  The time is absolutely now for the Penguins.

The problem that the 1999 Dallas Stars had, was they kept running into two dynasty-like teams.  The Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings were perennial cup winners at that time, and the Stars could just not compete with them.

The Penguins ran into the Red Wings a couple of years ago, but it now seems the Wings dominant run is fading. The Penguins should be that dynasty-like team that keeps other teams from becoming perennial cup winners.

Pittsburgh fans are used to sustaining excellence, and Steelers-Penguins fans alike are in the middle of something special right now.  If these teams do not add to their already impressive resumes soon, there is no telling what the future holds, just ask a Colts, Raiders, or Stars fan.  Nothing is a given.

Related posts:

  1. Time for Penguins to Risk Change and Invest in Talent
  2. Penguins Recap: Drunk and On Your Stomach. Pens Win
  3. Tee Time. Pens 4, Islanders 3
  4. 2011 Steelers Reminiscent of 2007 Wild Card Team
  5. The 2011-2012 Steelers Can Prove History Wrong

About John Friend

Lets Go Bucs. John likes the Pirates way too much. Folllow him on twitter @Slew_John37. Thanks for reading! Find Slew Footers sports on Facebook as well.