Veteran forward Ruslan Fedotenko signed last offseason with the Pittsburgh Penguins for one reason:
"I wanted to win the Cup," he said.
Mission accomplished. After the Penguins knocked off the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Fedotenko hoisted the holy shrine for the second time in his eight-year career.
Now, exactly one year to the day that he initially signed with the Penguins, Fedoenko, an unrestricted free agent, will officially return to Pittsburgh next season after re-signing with the club.
And his reasoning shouldn't surprise you.
"We had a great run last year. We played really well and won the Cup," Fedotenko said. "That's what you play for. I felt that with 95 percent of the team coming back we we will have another strong season. I wanted to be on a good team. We had good chemistry in the locker room. I want to win another Cup. I believe we can do it again."
Earlier this week, the Penguins re-signed unrestricted free agents Craig Adams
and Bill Guerin. Fedotenko becomes the third player to return to Pittsburgh.
"I think it's a great thing," general manager Ray Shero said. "I think it says a lot about Billy Guerin, Craig Adams
and Ruslan Fedotenko to want to come back and be a part of this group. All of these guys have won in the past. I'm really happy with our forward group and I'm really happy that the guys here last year decided to come back."
Fedotenko had a strong effort in his first campaign with the Penguins. The Ukraine native scored 16 goals and posted 39 points in 65 games. Fedotenko, a clutch postseason performer, was crucial to Pittsburgh's championship run. He finished fourth on the team in scoring with 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) and scored goals a key moments for Pittsburgh.
Fedotenko tested the free agent market. However, his mind kept pulling him towards a return to Pittsburgh.
"We were looking at a couple different options," he said. "You want to be on a winning team and compete to win the Cup. i feel like it's everybody's dream is to win the Cup. We did it last year. So let's try to do it another year. I stayed to hopefully win another one."
Winning a Stanley Cup is one of the most daunting tasks for any professional hockey player and team. And Fedotenko knows that winning a second championship will be even more difficult.
"It will take a lot of commitment and hard work. Nothing is going to come easy," Fedotenko said. "Everyone knows how we are and how we play. They will challenge us every night. We need to be ready and prepared. It's hard but I feel like this team is battle tested. This year will be different with every team wanting to knock us off the pedestal. Teams will be competing extra hard because we are the defending Cup champions."
That said, Fedotenko didn't flinch at the prospect that the Penguins will successful defend their Stanley Cup championship. In fact, that's the reason he returned.
"We have good character and we're a good team," he said. "We can win win it again."