Breaking up is hard

The 2021-22 Pittsburgh Penguins may be remembered as the last ride of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. The Penguins have surprised many in the hockey world by jumping on top of the New York Rangers 3-1 in their first-round series despite being forced to play third-string goaltender Louis Dominque. Trying to bet on the emotion of the last ride is a dangerous game to play.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Sportsnews shows that teams and coaches who have a lot of history wrapping up their time together produce mixed results. While there have been several stories of triumph on the way out, like when Ray Bourque won his Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Here’s a look at moments where people knew the end was coming and how things went.

Coach K comes up just short.

Duke accomplished a lot during Mike Krzyzewski’s last season in Durham, but how it ended will forever leave a sour taste in the mouth of the Blue Devils’ faithful. Duke was set for revenge in the Final Four, entering as four-point favorites against North Carolina.

The Tar Heels had starched the Blue Devils in Coach K’s last home game, pulling off a stunning 94-81 victory. In a back-and-forth affair, Duke appeared to have things figured out in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils built a three-point halftime lead and led late into the second half. However, UNC rallied behind the shooting of Caleb Love late and scored a four-point win.

While the Tar Heels lost to Kansas in the final, they were able to send Coach K into retirement on a sour note.

This one’s for John

Everyone knew time was running out for Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway by the time Super Bowl XXXII rolled around. However, the veteran signal-caller was able to engineer an upset as 11.5-point underdogs against the Green Bay Packers. With a strong core, including running back Terrell Davis, Elway decided to come back to defend his crown.

Denver was able to march back to the Super Bowl in his final season and came in as 7.5-point favorites over the upstart Atlanta Falcons. Elway had a strong game, passing for 336 yards and a touchdown in a 34-19 victory. After three Super Bowl disappointments in the 1980s, Elway was able to close his career with two straight victories.

One more time with feeling

Pete Sampras had long odds of winning the 2002 US Open, coming in as the 17th seed. While Sampras had a long, storied tennis career that included 14 major titles, many believed his time was nearing an end in 2002. However, he was able to pull out some magic one last time.

Sampras was able to find his way to the finals, knocking out third-seeded German player Tommy Haas on his way to the finals. In the finals, Sampras would meet up with fellow American Andre Agassi, defeating him in four sets. This would end up being the last match Sampras played in a major as he announced his retirement at the following U.S. Open.

Sid Bream

In the early 1990s, Pittsburgh Pirates were a team that missed several good opportunities to get back to the World Series. For three straight years, the Pirates captured the National League East crown and were on the cusp of the World Series. But the 1992 NLCS was the one that really haunts Pittsburgh fans today, especially considering the 30 years of misery that had followed.

Pirates star outfielder Barry Bonds had indicated before the season he was leaving due to unhappiness with his contract and situation. Fellow standout Bobby Bonilla had already left the team following the 1991 NLCS loss to the Braves and went to the rival Mets. However, the 1992 Pirates were still a very good team.

Pittsburgh finished the 1992 season 96-66 and again met the Braves in a series many viewed as a coinflip. The Pirates fought off elimination in Games 5 and 6 of the series by winning 7-1 and 13-4. However, in Game 7, Pittsburgh faced disaster.

The Pirates entered the ninth inning leading 2-0. Manager Jim Leyland decided to leave starting pitcher Doug Drabeck in the game. After a few batters got on, Pittsburgh brought in Stan Belinda. Atlanta would plate three runs in the ninth inning, with the final run being scored by former Pirate Side Bream scored a run on a throw by Bonds that was offline.

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