Another Cup fueled Adams' return to Penguins
Even as Craig Adams drove home to Boston for the summer Saturday, only one thing was on his mind.
It explains why he signed a two-year deal with the Penguins on Friday even though other teams were interested in his services.
“I think about winning another Stanley Cup every day,” Adams said. “I've been fortunate enough to win it twice. Once you get that taste of it, you want it again. It's all you think about.”
And so, his decision to return ultimately became a simple one.
He signed a deal that will pay him $700,000 annually for the next two seasons.
He said receiving a two-year deal was important and that “it was never a sticking point” with the Penguins.
“It was always our priority to stay in Pittsburgh,” Adams said. “The Penguins had a lot of things to square away first. I understood that. They made it clear that they wanted me back.”
Adams is delighted that, on the same day he signed, another veteran known for defensive reliability returned.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi and Adams were two of the five Penguins skaters on the ice at Joe Louis Arena in the final seconds June 12, 2009, when the Penguins held off the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup.
Now they will reunite on the Penguins' penalty-killing unit.
“You can never have enough guys like Rob Scuderi around,” Adams said. “I've watched him play in (Los Angeles) the last few years. He keeps getting better.”
Adams acknowledged the loss of left wing Matt Cooke is significant, but he still believes enough depth remains to complement the Penguins' stars as they attempt to win a championship in 2014.
“It will be different,” Adams said. “But I feel like we have a really good team.”
One thing that won't be difficult is Adams' conditioning. He is among the NHL's fittest players and is not the least bit concerned about performing well for two more seasons.
“I feel great and I don't mean for that to sound like a cliche,” Adams said. “I feel as good now as I did six, seven years ago. I really do feel good.”
Cooke leaves with heavy heart
Left wing Matt Cooke will play the next three seasons for the Minnesota Wild, but Pittsburgh remains his ultimate destination.
Cooke, who has stated his family would like to live in Pittsburgh after his career, plans on returning.
“It was a family decision,” Cooke said. “We look at it like a three-year vacation, then we can come back to Pittsburgh and live the rest of our lives.”
Cooke was suspended four times while with the Penguins before revamping his style during the past two seasons. He has stated on numerous occasions that his life has changed for the better on and off the ice because of soul-searching he underwent during the summer of 2011.
The support of team ownership, management, the coaching staff and Penguins fans is something Cooke will long appreciate.
“It was more than I could have hoped for,” he said. “And those fans always stood by me. I will never forget that.”
Penguins free agents Douglas Murray, Brenden Morrow and Mark Eaton remained unsigned Saturday.