The Pittsburgh Penguins were celebrating Sunday night after beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 to win the Stanley Cup.
It’s a tradition in the NHL that every player from the championship team gets to take Lord Stanley’s Cup to a location of their choice for a few days in the offseason. For many, it’s their hometown. Minnesota fans shouldn’t be surprised if the Stanley Cup spends at least a little time in the “State of Hockey” this year.READ MORE: You Can Always Get What You Want? Mick Jagger Has 2 Juicy (Jucy) Lucys Before Concert
Here in Minnesota, we like to out-source our championships. That’s the only option we have since there hasn’t been a title to celebrate, other than the Lynx and WNBA titles, since the Twins won the World Series in 1991. That’s 25 years.
Here are six Minnesota connections to this year’s Stanley Cup series between the Penguins and Sharks, with them split between the two teams. There are only three chances for Lord Stanley to land in Minnesota.
Sidney Crosby (Shattuck-St. Mary’s)
Sidney Crosby is the captain of the Penguins and is arguably the best player in the world. He’s the face of the NHL and had 85 points this year in the regular season despite missing time with injuries. He had 36 goals in the regular season, and added to his scoring total with six goals and 13 assists in the playoffs. Crosby is one of several hockey stars to spend some time at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Faribault, Minn., known for its elite hockey talent. He was there from 2002-2003.
Matt Cullen (Minnesota native)
Minnesota hockey fans consider Matt Cullen “one of us.” He’s originally from Virginia, Minn., and played his high school hockey at Moorhead. He led the Spuds to three state tournaments and a pair of runner-up finishes. He spent three years at St. Cloud State and was drafted in 1996. He came to the Minnesota Wild in 2010 for three years and joined the Penguins last August. He played every game this season for Pittsburgh, scoring 16 regular season goals and adding 16 assists. This year marks his second Stanley Cup.
Phil Kessel (Played for Minnesota Gophers)
Phil Kessel only spent one year in Minnesota, but it was a big one. He collected 51 points, including 18 goals, in the 2005-06 season to be named the WCHA Rookie of the Year while at teh University of Minnesota. He was drafted in 2006 and was traded last July from Toronto to the Penguins. He played all 82 regular season games for Pittsburgh this year and had 59 points, including 26 goals. He scored twice and added two assists for the Penguins in Game 4 against the Sharks.READ MORE: Assistant Director Who Handed Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Before Fatal Shooting Has Deep Minnesota Ties
Brent Burns (Played for Minnesota Wild)
Brent Burns has been with the San Jose Sharks since 2011, but he was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2003. He was with the Wild until 2011, when he was traded to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round draft pick. Burns was loved by Wild fans for his hard-nosed defensive play.
Paul Martin (Elk River native)
The Martin family is a big hockey name just northwest of the Twin Cities metro. Paul Martin, now with the Sharks, played his high school hockey with Elk River and won the Mr. Hockey award in 2000. He played for the Gophers, winning national titles in 2002 and 2003. He signed a deal with San Jose in excess of $19 million last July.
Justin Braun (White Bear Lake native)
Justin Braun grew up in the north Twin Cities metro suburb of Vadnais Heights and played his high school hockey at White Bear Lake. He led the Bears to state tournaments in 2003 and 2005. He’s been with the San Jose Sharks since the 2010-11 season and this year, had four goals and 19 assists in 80 regular season games. He also had two goals and five assists in the playoffs.
For now, Minnesota hockey fans will have to acknowledge championships by out-sourcing connections from other teams. All six have played on Minnesota soil, some have played in the state hockey tournament and others have won national titles with the Gophers.MORE NEWS: St. Paul School Board Chair Jeanelle Foster Recovering From COVID
With Bruce Boudreau and a new coaching staff in place next year, who knows how far the Wild can go? Maybe it won’t be too long before we’re not trying too hard to find ways to link ourselves to a Stanley Cup title and celebrating in downtown St. Paul.