PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins turned back the clock to celebrate a special anniversary for one of their most memorable teams.
The Penguins honored the 2009 Stanley Cup championship team before facing the Chicago Blackhawks at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.
Pittsburgh defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final on June 12, 2009, at Joe Louis Arena. It was the first of three championships for current Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang.
Nine former players from the 2009 Penguins who are no longer part of the organization attended the game and were honored during a pregame ceremony. Several players and coaches from that team are still active in the NHL, but recorded video messages to be played during the game.
"It's scary. It goes by quick," Crosby said. "I think the great thing about groups like that, you just pick up right where you left off. It feels like no time has gone by. Everyone kind of goes back into the pecking order. It's funny how that works. It's cool to see some of the guys."
The ceremony began with a video recapping Pittsburgh's loss to Detroit in the 2008 Final, and its series against the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Crosby, Malkin and Letang skated to center ice after Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, Bill Guerin, Mike Zigomanis, Ruslan Redotenko, Craig Adams, Eric Godard, Mathieu Garon, Philippe Boucher, Tyler Kennedy and Sergei Gonchar were introduced. Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz was announced but did not appear.
Kunitz, who won the Stanley Cup three times in nine seasons with the Penguins, said he met with a few of his former teammates after arriving in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Penguins acknowledged Kunitz's contribution during a moment in the first period, and he in turn tipped his cap to the crowd, which gave him a warm ovation.
"It's obviously great memories when you win together," Kunitz said. "You cherish those moments. ... You enjoy and reminisce about the good times we had for that great run we were on."
Since the Penguins have won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons, Kunitz was asked if he felt the 2009 championship has been overshadowed.
"Maybe that was one of the teams that laid the foundation for how well the Penguins organization has been run," Kunitz said. "The way that they addressed every single season, they expected to win the Stanley Cup. ... I think that was one of the teams that set the foundation to put this great franchise in the right spot."
Crosby, who was 21 years old during the 2009 Cup Final, said that run would always stand out for him.
"It's special, just because it is the first one," Crosby said. "I think about how young I was too, probably not realizing how difficult it is to win. Having gone to the Final the year before, playing the same team and being with a lot of those guys when we did lose, and then winning the next year. It was pretty unique.
"Looking up to a lot of those guys too. I was a younger guy on the team. I looked up to a lot of the guys. They were great veterans, great leaders."