Crosby could have changed Pens’ history

PITTSBURGH – Back when the Bill Cowher weekly press conference was must-see TV, you could count on two things:

He would make at least one reference to the “thin line between winning and losing” and he would assert at least once that he wouldn’t play the “what-if” game.

In tribute to those days, let’s play the what-if game to demonstrate the thin line between winning and losing.

Since the New York Rangers eliminated them from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins have fired their general manager, dumped the entire coaching staff and turned over about one third of the roster. They’re not done making changes, either.

So what if Sidney Crosby had scored just one more goal during the Rangers series? He had one in the seven games. Had another goal come at an opportune time, the Penguins probably would have won the series, maybe in five games. They would have been favored in the next series against Montreal, and would have had an excellent chance at beating the Canadiens.

It’s doubtful they would have beaten Los Angeles in the Cup final, but just getting there would have represented progress and radically rewritten their disturbingly consistent postseason story line.

Crosby couldn’t get that other goal. The Penguins lost. So now moving companies and realtors are experiencing booming business. When you tally up the money remaining on the contracts of Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma, and add that amount to the lost ticket revenue from a third playoff series, the number is somewhere north of $10 million. That’s what the lack of a second Crosby goal cost the organization.

Much of the roster churn may have been inevitable, given the Penguins’ salary cap situation. The Penguins were in no position to pay the kind of money Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik found on the open market. But the overall changes wouldn’t have been nearly as radical if they had beaten the Rangers.

Crosby didn’t find that second postseason goal. Now there will be a new group of players greeted by a new staff when training camp opens in September.

That thin line between winning and losing is the reason you don’t drive yourself crazy playing the what-if game.

Smile for the camera

The Pirates had Photo Day recently, where fans get to come on the field and take pictures with the players.

Mehno can be reached at