The bad news? He's been on the short end of the stick each and every time.
While there was plenty of talk this postseason about Marian Hossa and his quest for the cup, after turning down a lucrative offer from the Penguins to sign a one-year deal with the Red Wings, he wasn't the only former Penguin to wear the winged wheel this season. Conklin was also a member of last year's Penguins team, and it could be argued that he was a far more important part of the Penguins 2007-08 season than Hossa was.
That said, had it not been for the performance of Conklin from December to February, helping to carry the team when Marc-Andre Fleury and Sidney Crosby were both sidelined with ankle injuries, the Penguins might have failed to even qualify for the playoffs. Or, if nothing else, they certainly wouldn't have been in a position to make such a bold move at the trade deadline by acquiring Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers.
When Conklin signed with Pittsburgh in the middle of July, 2007, he was pretty much an afterthought. A guy that would compete with Dany Sabourin for the backup job and likely take over the reigns as the starting goalie in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That all changed in mid-December when Fleury suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Calgary Flames. Conklin was thrust into the No. 1 job and, essentially, stood on his head for two months, posting a career-best .923 save percentage to go with an 18-8-5 record.
So, the reason I bring this up is this: If you were a professional athlete, would it hurt worse to lose in the championship game/series every season, or never have an opportunity to take part and experience it?
It's worth pointing out that during this four-year run, Conklin has only played 26 minutes of postseason action (20 of which came in Game 5 of this year's Stanley Cup Final), while there was this forgettable moment at the end of Game 1 of the 2005-06 finals when he came on in relief of starter Dwayne Roloson:
From a fan's perspective, as tough as it was to see the Red Wings celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Mellon Arena a year ago, I still wouldn't have traded that experience (as a fan) with a team that didn't even have a chance to see such a run. And I always chuckle when people refer to the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990's as "chokers." They weren't chokers. That was one of the best teams the NFL has seen since the merger, and they accomplished something no team is ever likely to repeat (play in four straight Super Bowls). So, the question remains: if you're a player, which career path hurts more -- losing in the championship every year? Or never getting a chance to take part?