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Unlike Marian Hossa, who ignored Sidney Crosby's entreaties to return before last season, Fedotenko was happy to oblige. And after scoring 14 points in 24 playoff games (he had 39 during the regular season), Fedotenko could be a bargain at $1.8 million, almost half a million less than he made in 2008--09. Fedotenko wasn't the only veteran who settled for less to remain with the reigning Stanley Cup champs; late-season additions Bill Guerin, who flanked Crosby, and fourth-line center Craig Adams also took pay cuts for a chance to repeat. "It says a lot for them to come back and fit themselves underneath the salary cap to help us try to get another championship," G.M. Ray Shero says.
While the Penguins' front end stays more or less intact, their defensive corps has to make up for losing stay-at-home stalwarts Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi to free agency. They picked up former Blues defenseman Jay McKee, 32, to help fill that role, and having a healthy Sergei Gonchar (he missed nearly 60 games last year after shoulder surgery) should make an even bigger impact.
"We realize that just because we won, everything [won't] come easy," Crosby says. "Last year was a good wake-up call. We went to the finals [in 2007--08], and came back the next year and were in 10th place in January. You have to learn how to deal with success, and that's a hard thing. If you don't find ways to motivate yourself, you're not going to have success for long."
For Malkin, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and a Hart Trophy finalist for the second straight year, his motivation is in his hands. The Penguins were to get their Stanley Cup rings on Sept. 29. "I have 10 fingers," he says. "I want to win 10 times."
LAST SEASON 44-27-11 (5th in East); lost in first round to Pittsburgh
KEY ADDITIONS G Brian Boucher, G Ray Emery, RW Ian Laperriere, D Chris Pronger
KEY LOSSES G Marty Biron, RW Mike Knuble, RW Joffrey Lupul, G Antero Niittymaki
New Flyer Chris Pronger (below) fits in with Philadelphia like Max among the Wild Things. The big No. 1 defenseman, who arrived in a June trade with Anaheim, brings sheer nastiness to a team that has long prized it. Pronger, 34, will absorb minutes from defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen, add punch to Philly's already potent power play and help lighten the leadership role of captain Mike Richards. "I've made a lot of mistakes on and off the ice," says Pronger, who won the 2007 Cup with the Ducks. "It's a chance to not only help these kids to learn how to win, but also how to handle different situations and develop into better players."