Welcome to hockey immortality, Jake Guentzel. The 22-year-old who went from Maverick hockey-star to NHL rookie-phenom is now a Stanley Cup Champion. What a year.
After scoring goals in the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, Guentzel continued to pace the Penguins, as they went on to win the Stanley Cup in six games. He finished the postseason with 21 points, which ties the all-time rookie postseason record. He also led all players in scoring throughout the playoffs, including five game-winning goals.
The storylines of this year’s NHL playoffs were about legacies. A lot of the talk was about Sidney Crosby, and how these playoffs would define his career. It goes without saying that Crosby wouldn’t be raising his second straight Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the playoff’s most outstanding player, if it wasn’t for a fellow line-mate who seemed to make plays when Crosby was locked down.
Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby were a nasty duo that nobody could seem to stop in the playoffs. As Guentzel helped Crosby cement his place in the ranks of the best hockey players of all-time, Guentzel established his own legacy. Like it or not, Penguin’s fans have found their “next Sidney Crosby,” in the form of a 22-year-old from who played collegiate hockey for the UNO Mavericks.
It’s only natural that Guentzel will have such high expectations to live up to. When you outscore every other player in the league throughout the playoffs, even with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on your team; and you’re a rookie, you’re going to turn lots of heads. For some reason, however, the spotlight never gets too big for Jake Guentzel.
After going from college hockey to the AHL, and finally the NHL, Guentzel finally has time to relax and celebrate how far he has come in such a short amount of time. His first taste of celebration came last Thursday, when the Penguins had their Stanley Cup Parade throughout Pittsburgh.
He may have already etched himself into the hearts of Pittsburgh fans forever with his playoff performance, but he added to the legend that is Jake Guentzel when a video surfaced of a fan asking Jake to sign a beer for him. The 22-year-old’s six-word response had the internet calling him “legendary.”
After being handed the beer, Guentzel said with a smile, “I sign it, you chug it.”