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2009 Cup team reunites for 10th anniversary

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

It may have been 10 years since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009, but when the players get together, it feels like no time has passed.

"It's scary. It goes by quick. But I think the great thing about groups like that, you just pick up right where you left off and it feels like no time has gone by," Sidney Crosby said before adding with a laugh, "Everybody goes back into the pecking order. It's funny how that works. It's cool to see some of the guys and it'll be fun to have them here."

Crosby reunited with some of his old teammates this weekend for the Penguins' 10th anniversary celebration, which began with dinner downtown on Saturday night.

"There weren't any TVs on or any phones out, we all just enjoyed each other's company," said Chris Kunitz, who got into town that afternoon with Chicago. "It's obviously great memories when you win together, and you cherish those moments.

"That being said, you never get a team together at the same time. Life takes over and there's different things and other guys that are still playing, so maybe one day it'll happen. But (for now), you can enjoy and reminisce about the good times we had for that great run we were on."

The celebration continued into Sunday, where the Penguins honored the members of that 2009 team with a special pregame ceremony and video before dropping the puck against the Blackhawks. They also interspersed video messages from a group that included Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Talbot, Brooks Orpik, Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma throughout the game.

For the group that was in Pittsburgh, much of the weekend was spent just trying to catch up with each other. Ruslan Fedotenko remarked that everyone's kids are grown up now, but maybe not so much the other kids - Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang - who were just 21, 22 and 21, respectively, when they won that year.

"To me, they're still the same. They're still the kids," Fedotenko said with a laugh.

When Crosby reflects back onto that Cup, his age is one of the first things that comes to mind.

"It's special, just because it is the first one," he said. "I think about how young I was too, probably not realizing how difficult it is to win and having gone to the Finals the year before (in 2008), playing the same team (Detroit), being with a lot of those guys when we did lose and then winning the next year was pretty unique.

"I remember looking up to a lot of those guys, too. I was a younger guy on the team and I looked up to a lot of the guys, and they were great veterans, great leaders. It's great to have them around here."

One of those veterans was Hal Gill, who originally thought he wasn't going to be able to make it for the celebration as he is Nashville's radio color analyst, and the Predators played in Montreal on Saturday before going to Toronto on Monday.

"I got a call from Billy Guerin and he's like 'dude, you got to be here,'" Gill said. "It was tough but I made the decision to come and I'm so happy. It's great to be around these guys. And all of them, every one had their certain role on the team, so it made it a lot of fun and I'll always remember them."

Before donning their jerseys and heading downstairs to be recognized on the ice, all of the retired players - along with all of the former management and staff members - gathered for remarks from Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse.

At dinner last night, Guerin had said that the 2009 team may have been the one that laid the foundation for how well the Penguins organization has been run and how they expect to win every single season, and Morehouse echoed that sentiment.

"That Cup was the foundation from which we've built everything that we currently have," he said to the assembled group. "You guys came in and took a team that was, just a few years earlier, destitute, bankrupt and without a home. But the ownership group with Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux went all in.

"I remember the day they did go all in, when they decided to go for a big trade in 2008 that brought us the team that got us to the Final. Then they decided to bring you guys all together in 2009 to win a Cup. It worked. You set the standard from which we built the current Pittsburgh Penguins. You're all part of the Penguins family. Always will be."

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