After the Penguins paraded the Stanley Cup through the streets of Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby took it to his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Evgeni Malkin to Moscow and Phil Kessel to a children's hospital in Toronto as part of the summer-long celebration. If there's one thing champions in the NHL have learned, it is to savor those moments because history says they won't happen back-to-back. No team has repeated as Cup champion since the salary-cap era began in 2005, and the last back-to-back winners were the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
Get ready for a competitive race among those four teams in the Eastern Conference. Throw a healthy Carey Price back in net for the Montreal Canadiens and they could challenge, too, especially if defenseman Shea Weber fits well after a stunning summer trade from Nashville for P.K. Subban. Of course, it starts and ends with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins.
The NHL's Western Conference should be wild all season, perhaps as much as ever as parity reigns and points are tough to come by on any given night. The defending Conference champion San Jose Sharks, who had five players in the World Cup of Hockey finals , certainly appear to have a chance to be among the final two still skating in mid-June. The Blackhawks and Kings, who alternated as champions from 2012 to 2015 and won five Cups in a six-season span, failed to even make it out of the first round last in 2016.