At 10:37 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
For a franchise stocked with several high-end draft picks in the middle part of the first decade of the 21st century, this was supposed to happen. A championship was preordained for a team which drafted Sidney Crosby, a player who was anointed as the next Wayne Gretzky.
It was also supposed to happen again. And again. And again. Even before winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, Sidney Crosby's Penguins were drawing comparisons to Wayne Gretzky's Oilers teams which won multiple Stanley Cup titles in the 1980s.
But a repeat of that joy felt on a humid night in Detroit almost five years ago has yet to happen for these Penguins. In the four ensuing campaigns, the Penguins' seasons have come to an end in four distinct fashions, each without a championship. Forget Gretzky's Oilers. Crosby's Penguins aren't even Mario Lemieux's Penguins which won two Stanley Cup titles in the early 1990s.
Have these Penguins underachieved? Recently, six members of that 2009 team which are still a part of the current squad were asked that question:
Craig Adams (right), right winger – “I think when you have a good team, you have an ownership and a management that gives you everything you need to be successful – whether it’s adding pieces at the deadline or giving contracts to guys to get them to stick around – you want to win it every year. You have a chance to win every year. But the fact is, teams don’t win it every year. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how good you think you are. Are we disappointed? Yeah, absolutely. I think everybody’s in here goal is to win every year. To say we’ve underachieved, I don’t know. It’s hard to … I feel that way. But at the same time, you look across the league and you don’t see many teams that are winning three or four Cups in a row.
Sidney Crosby, center – “I don’t know. We went to the [Eastern Conference final last season]. We lost the Stanley Cup Final in . I think that’s a pretty good track record. Most teams would like to have those opportunities. I wouldn’t say you accept that but I also wouldn’t say we’ve been a complete failure. We’ve been there. We haven’t gotten those big wins but I wouldn’t say that we’ve failed to meet expectations. There’s been certain circumstances too. If you really want to dissect it, there’s been some things. We’ve run into some troubles. We had injuries the one year against Tampa . We have high expectations but I wouldn’t say it’s failure.
Marc-Andre Fleury, goaltender – “It’s disappointing I think. We won it in  and we thought we would do this every time. But we’re not the only team in the league. I think there’s better parity. There’s more good teams around. I’m sure Chicago looks and wonders why it hasn’t won five in a row. It’s tough. For us as a team, it’s disappointing. It’s a good challenge to go at it every year knowing we have a shot at it. We know it’s going to be tough.
Chris Kunitz, left winger - "When you go out in the first round, that’s not the expectation of the team. There’s a lot of good teams out there that have been nearing the top of their game. We have to get better and strive to do that every year. Management and coaches and staff, they all put us in the right position and give us the right information. We have to go out there and do it as a team. It’s another opportunity to go out and win. It’s not easy to go out there and win four series. You’ve got to take it one at a time. Each year is a new year."
Kris Letang (right), defensemen – "There’s one team that was able to do that. I think it’s one of the hardest trophies to win. It all depends every year. I wouldn’t say underachieve, no. But I would say, we expect more of ourselves. We have had disappointed years. I’m not going to lie about that but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty hard trophy to win."
Brooks Orpik, defensemen – “I think your goal is to win it every year. So in our minds, if we don’t win it, we think we’re underachieving it but there’s a lot of good teams. It’s tough. Boston is a good team. They’ve won it once. San Jose hasn’t won it. They’re a great team. St. Louis is a great team. They can’t get over the hump. It’s easy to say that but with the way the [salary] cap it, there’s so many good teams. The parity across the board is probably greater than it ever has been. If you ask guys in here, that’s you’re ultimate goal. If you don’t win it, I guess you’re underachieving. Even if you lose in the [Stanley Cup Final], you’re underachieving. But I think at the same time, I think you’ve got be aware of how many good teams there are every year. Everyone is trying to win it. People get a little short-sighted. I’ve watched the way people talk about the Steelers. There’s 29 other good teams [in the NHL]. Thirty-one others in the NFL. Everyone has the same goal. It’s tough to win. That’s for other people to say. I guess it all depends on what your goals are. If you underachieve or overachieve… I don’t know. You try to win it every year so if you’re not winning it every year, I guess you are underachieving. I don’t think guys get too caught up in that.”
(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)