ALL-TIME ROSTER: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

The next instalment of this series is the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Penguins have had an absolutely stunning number of quality players in their ranks over the years since they joined the league in 1967, and that is still the case today as they have both of the (arguably) best players in the world on their team.  And those two aren’t even on the first line on this All-Time Roster.

Thanks to the Legends of Hockey website and Wikipedia for providing some of the information used, as well as NHL.com for the statistics provided. 

Apologies for the long gap between posts here at IceNationUK, life has gotten in the way, but I will continue to get as much content out as possible.

FORWARD LINES

1ST LINE:

Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux

KEVIN STEVENS—-MARIO LEMIEUX—-JAROMIR JAGR

  • STEVENS: 522 Games, 260 G – 295 A – 555 P 
  • Acquired by Pittsburgh from LA in 1983 before he even made the NHL, Stevens was big, skilled, and found chemistry pretty quickly with superstar centre Mario Lemieux.  He soon became one of the top power forwards in the game, having several great goal-scoring seasons and being an integral part of the powerhouse Penguins teams of the early 90s.  In the 1993 playoffs he suffered a horrific on-ice accident which required extensive facial reconstruction, but he still returned to have a good year the following season.  He was traded to Boston in 1995, and generally over the rest of his career struggled to reach the heights he had in Pittsburgh, but did return to the Penguins for parts of 2 seasons at the end of his career.
  • His achivements as a Penguin are as follows: -one 20+ goal season, two 40+ goal seasons, and two 50+ goal seasons, as well as seasons of 12 goals in 24 games and 15 goals in 27 games; -one 70+ point season, two 80+ point seasons, one 110+ point season and one 120+ point season; -two Stanley Cups (1991, 1992); -at the time (1992), was only the 3rd player in NHL history to outscore Wayne Gretzky in the regular season with 123 points; -those 123 points set a record for most points by an American player, and by a left-winger, in 1 season; -one of only 4 NHL players to have scored more than 50 goals and at least 200 penalty minutes in a season; -tied for 3rd all-time in goals scored in a single playoff season with 17 goals in 1991; he scored 13 the following playoff season; -in the playoffs in 1992, he became only the 25th player in NHL history to score 3 goals in one period (he scored a 4th goal later that game); -in 103 playoff games with the Pens, he had 43 goals and 103 points; -named to the 2nd All-Star Team twice and the 1st All-Star Team one; -played in three All-Star Games.
  • LEMIEUX: 915 Games, 690 G – 1033 A – 1723 P
  • What. A. Player.  I could just leave it at that for the man they called Super Mario, but I should really explain how he came to earn that moniker.  Drafted 1st Overall by the Penguins in 1984 after an unbelievable (seriously! He scored 282 points in 70 games one year!) career in the QMJHL junior league, Lemieux literally had it all.  He was huge at 6’4″ and 235lbs, a fantastic skater despite that size, and unbelievably skilled.  Expectations were high, and boy did he deliver.  He was the face of the Penguins for 17 seasons, and indeed was one of the poster-boys of the entire NHL.  The Penguins one-two punch of Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr was feared around the league.  He was, and still is, compared with the legendary Wayne Gretzky, with many heated debates as to who was the better hockey player.  It’s a hard comparison to make given the fact they both played completely different styles – Gretzky was a more cerebral player who would out-think the opposition and see things no-one else would, whilst Lemieux would simply dominate with his size, skating and pure skill – and the unfortunate fact that Mario had his career virtually torn apart by injuries and serious illnesses.  He undoubtedly would have challenged – and probably broken – many, though certainly not all, of Gretzky’s records, but even as it stands he is always in the conversation of the best hockey player ever.
  • Here are Lemieux’s achievements as a Penguin:
    two 100+ point seasons, two 120+ point seasons, one 130+ point season, one 140+ point season, three 160+ point seasons, and a career high of 199 points in 1988/89;
    -those 199 points were the closest any player has got to 200 points aside from Wayne Gretzky, who broke the 200 point barrier 4 times… Mario likely would have broken that barrier if he had played the full season;
    -he also had seasons of 45 points (in just 26 games in 1990/91), 37 points (in just 22 games in 1993/94), 76 points (in just 43 games in 2000/01), 31 points (in just 24 games in 2001/02), 91 points (in just 67 games in 2002/03), 9 points (in 10 games in 2003/04) and 22 points (in 26 games in 2005/06 at the end of his career);
    -his most remarkable season was perhaps 1992/93.  He was on pace to challenge Gretzky’s record of 92 goals and 215 points in one season, but in January ’93 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to undergo radiation therapy.  He was out for two months, but returned in March and posted 56 points in the remaining 20 games whilst Pittsburgh went on an NHL record 17 game win streak – absolutely unbelievable considering his very survival was in doubt just a short while earlier!!!  He scored 160 points in 60 games that year, and despite missing 2 whole months for cancer treatment, still led the entire league in scoring.
    -Lemieux never once played a full NHL season, but finished 7th All Time in NHL history with 1723 points.  He is the only player in the top 35 point-scorers in NHL history to not have played 1000 NHL games.  He undoubtedly would have scored over 2000 points (something only Gretzky has achieved) if circumstances had been different.  He was kept out by serious back problems, cancer, an irregular heartbeat, and two lockouts.  He even retired for three full seasons (1997-2000) due to health issues, but came back to play in 2000 until a few games into the 2005 season;
    -To put it in perspective, using Lemieux’s career points-per game of 1.88, if he had played the same number of NHL games as Gretzky (1487), he could have scored 2796 career points, again second only to Gretzky’s total of 2857.  Consider also that if he was healthy, he likely would have been even better, and may have even broken that record;
    -he had one 20+ goal season, one 30+ goal season (in 43 games, 00/01), four 40+ goal seasons, two 50+ goal seasons, two 60+ goal seasons, one 70 goal season, and a career high 85 goal season in 1988/89;
    -he also scored 17 goals in just 22 games in 1993/94;
    -he had 76 goals and 172 points in 107 playoff games;
    -this included an incredible 16 goals and 44 points in just 23 games (second only in playoff history to Gretzky’s 47 points in 1985) as the Pens romped to their 1st Stanley Cup in 1991, and 16 goals and 34 points in just 15 games the following year as Pittsburgh repeated as Champions;
    -became the first rookie to be named MVP of the All-Star Game, in 1985;
    -in 1989, he became the second player to score over 70 goals in two seasons, the fourth player ever to score 50 goals in 50 games, and the only player ever to score 13 shorthanded goals in one season.
    on 31st December 1988, he scored 8 points in one game, whilst becoming the only player in history to score a goal in all possible situations in one game: even-strength, power-play, shorthanded, penalty-shot, and empty-net;
    -had another 8 point night in the playoffs in April 1989, tying the NHL record for most goals and points in a playoff game, most goals in a playoff game period (scoring 4 in the 1st), and most assists in a playoff game period (3 in the 2nd);
    -in 1989/90, had a 46 game point-scoring streak, second only to Gretzky’s 51 game streak;
    -set the Penguin’s franchise record with at least 1 goal in 12 consecutive games in 1992/93;
    -holds the 3rd highest points-per-game rate in a single season with 2.67, in that incredible 1992/93 season, behind only Gretzky’s marks of 2.77 and 2.69;
    second fastest player to reach 500 career NHL goals, doing it in just 605 games, yet again second only to Gretzky who did it in 575;
    -is the 7th player in NHL history to win three Hart Trophies as League MVP;
    -is the 4th player in NHL history to win five Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading point scorer;
    -reached 600 career goals in just 719 games, second only to Gretzky’s 600 goals in 718 games;
    -put up ten 100+ point seasons, second only to Gretzky’s fifteen 100+ point seasons;
    -tied the NHL record for goals in a single period (regular season) with 4 in the 3rd;
    -at the time of his first retirement in 1997, he was the only player to retire from the NHL with a points-per-game average higher than 2 PPG.  This number dropped to 1.88 after he returned three years later, but that is still an incredible number and didn’t damage his reputation one bit;
    -is the only player to have scored over 30 powerplay goals in 2 different seasons;
    -holds the NHL record for biggest percentage of team goals contributed to, i.e. scored or assisted on, with 57.3% in 1988/89;
    -is the only NHL player with three 8-point games;
    -shares the NHL record with four career 5-goal games;
    -holds the NHL record for best goals-per-game in the regular season and playoffs combined at .750;
    -holds the the third best goals-per-game in the regular season at .754, behind only Mike Bossy and Cy Denneny;
    -shares the NHL record for career All-Star Game goals with 13;
    -shares the NHL record for goals in a single All-Star Game with 4 in 1990;
    -holds the NHL record for points in a single All-Star Game with 6 in 1988;
    -shares the NHL record for most All-Star Game MVP awards with 3;
    -holds or shares numerous playoff records: goals in a single period (4), goals in a single game (5), points in a single period (4), points in a single game (8), and has the best goals-per-game rate in NHL playoff history at .710;
    most career games, goals, assists and points as a Pittsburgh Penguin;
    -holds the Penguins records for most goals, assists and points in a single season;
    -holds the Penguins records for most goals, assists and points in a single game;
    -won 2 Stanley Cup Championships as a player;
    -won three Hart Trophies as the NHL’s MVP;
    -won six Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading point scorer;
    -won two Conn Smythe Trophies as Playoff MVP;
    -won four Lester B. Pearson Awards as the NHLPA’s Player of the Year;
    -won the NHL Plus/Minus Award in 1993;
    -won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year;
    -won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2000 as the person to contribute the most to ice hockey in the US;
    -won the Masterton Trophy in 1993 for perseverance and commitment to the game;
    -was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1985;
    -was named to five 1st All-Star Teams, and four 2nd All-Star Teams;
    -won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1993 as Canada’s top athlete;
    -was named ESPN’s Hockey Player of the Decade in 2000;
    -had the mandatory 3-year waiting period waived after his initial retirement in 1997 so he could be immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame;
    -his Jersey No. 66 has been retired by the Penguins;
    -made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.
  • Phew.  So, yeah, Lemieux was pretty damn awesome.  Apologies for the lengthy section just on him, but he’s worth knowing about.  He became a co-owner of the Penguins in 1999 (the team had declared bankruptcy in 1998 and owed Lemieux about $30m in years of deferred salary, which he converted into equity to buy the team) making him the first former NHLer to become majority owner of his former team; he is held largely responsible for the Penguins since having fully cleared their considerable debt.  He won his third Stanley Cup, this time as Owner, when the Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
  • JAGR: 806 Games, 439 G – 640 A – 1079 P
  • So how do you follow up Mario Lemieux?  How about with the highest scoring European NHL player of all time.  Drafted 5th overall by the Pens in 1990, he immediately made headlines as he was the first Czech player to be drafted by the NHL without first having to defect to the West due to the Cold War.  Jaromir Jagr spent 11 seasons in Pittsburgh, racking up points and being part of a fearsome duo with Lemieux.
  • Jagr’s achievements with the Penguins are:
    -one 20+ goal season, five 30+ goal seasons (including 32 in 48 games in the lockout shortened 1994/95 season), three 40+ goal seasons, one 50+ goal season, and a career high 62 goals in 1995/96;
    -one 50+ point season, one 60+ point season, one 70 point season (in 48 games in the lockout shortened 1994/95 season), four 90+ point seasons, one 100+ point season, two 120+ point seasons, and a career high 149 points in 1995/96;
    -he holds the most assists by a rookie in the Stanley Cup Finals with 5 (1991);
    -he holds the record for most points in a single season by an NHL right winger with 149;
    -he holds the record for most assists in a single season by an NHL right winger with 87;
    -he holds the record for most points in a single season by a European born & trained player with 149;
    -he holds the record for most points in a single season by a player born outside of Canada with 149;
    -he also holds three records which include his time spent with the Penguins but also span his time spent with other NHL teams (and is still ongoing), as he holds the all-time record for career points scored by a European born & trained player, shares the record with Mike Gartner for most consecutive 30-or-more goal seasons with 15, and holds the record for most consecutive 70-or-more point seasons with 15;
    -won 2 Stanley Cups;
    -won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in 1999, and was a finalist in 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2001;
    -won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point scorer in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001;
    -won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHLPA’s Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000;
    -was named to the All-Rookie Team;
    -was named to the 1st All-Star Team six times, and to the 2nd All-Star Team once;
    -won the Golden Stick Award for Best Czech Hockey Player four times;
    -served as Penguins Captain from 1998 to 2001;
    -became only the 2nd Penguins player to reach 1000 career points, after Lemieux (and currently sits at 8th on the All-Time Point Scoring list, behind Lemieux at 7th);
  • Jagr was traded to the Washington Capitals in 2001, and later played for the NY Rangers, played in the Russian KHL for 3 years, returned to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers at age 39 last year, and is currently signed with the Dallas Stars, so expect his incredible point totals to keep climbing for another year or two.  He’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer whenever he decides to retire.

2ND LINE:

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby

LOWELL MACDONALD—-SIDNEY CROSBY—-MARK RECCHI

  • MACDONALD: 328 Games, 140 G – 166 A – 306 P
  • For all of Pittsburgh’s elite centres and right wingers over the years, they have had a distinct lack of truly elite left wingers; that is not to disparage the accomplishments of the likes of MacDonald though, he was very productive as a Penguin, but I wouldn’t classify him as a world beater.  He had seasons of 34 goals, 43 goals, 27 goals and 30 goals from 1972 to 1976, and seasons of 75 points, 82 points, 60 points and 73 points over the same period.  That was all the more impressive given that MacDonald was in his early-to-mid 30s over this period, and had been primarily a minor-leaguer up to that point.  He was awarded the Masterton Trophy for Perseverance and Dedication to Hockey in 1973.
  • CROSBY: 434 Games, 223 G – 386 A – 609 P
  • In 1984, Pittsburgh drafted a once-in-a-generation talent 1st Overall out of the QMJHL junior league, who became the face of the franchise and of the NHL, putting up points at an unbelievable rate, but who struggled with major injuries and illnesses.  In 2005, Pittsburgh drafted a once-in-a-generation talent 1st Overall out of the QMJHL junior league, who became the face of the franchise and of the NHL, putting up points at an unbelievable rate, but who struggled with major injuries and illnesses.  It’s quite incredible that the same thing can happen to the same franchise twice, and right just when Pittsburgh needed it to happen.  When Crosby was drafted, Lemieux was right at the end of his career, and the Penguins were in big financial trouble.  The combination of Lemieux’s astute ownership, and the drafting of another superstar player, helped reinvigorate the Penguin’s franchise and make them once again a feared team.
  • Sidney Crosby had an immediate impact, scoring his first assist on the Pen’s first goal of the season, and scoring his 1st NHL goal 3 nights later at the team’s home opener, playing largely alongside Lemieux, who had invited the youngster to live with him and his family whilst he got settled.  He was (and is) a phenomenal athlete, an astonishing passer, a great shooter, incredibly skilled, as well as being good on faceoffs and a wickedly fast and smooth skater.  By December, he had been named an Assistant Captain – something that didn’t sit well with many of the veterans considering he was an 18 year old rookie, no matter how talented – but it didn’t affect his season, as he finished with an incredible 102 points, sixth overall in league scoring, although he lost out on the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year to fellow phenom – and bitter rival – Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who scored 106 points.  By 2007, the Penguins were finally improving, and Crosby was named Captain of the team.  In 2008, they went to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings.
  • They exacted revenge a year later however, as in 2009 the two teams met again in the Final with the Pens coming out on top.  The Penguins were on top of the world, as was Crosby, who was dominating the league and collecting trophies left, right and centre.  Since 2010 however, Crosby has struggled with injury, primarily concussion issues caused by hits to the head, and has only played 63 games over the last two seasons.  However, he’s reportedly healthy now, and should get back to leading the league in scoring before long!  He could well find himself in the Hall of Fame one day.
  • Crosby’s achievements as a Penguin so far are:
    -three 100+ point seasons and a career high 120 point season in 2006/07, as well as seasons of 72 points (in just 53 games in 07/08), 66 points (in just 41 games in 10/11), and 37 points (in just 22 games in 11/12);
    -a 24 goal season (in just 53 games in 07/08), four 30+ goal seasons, and a career high 51 goal season in 09/10;
    -has 33 goals and 90 points in 68 playoff games;
    -this includes 15 goals and 31 points in 24 games as the Penguins won the Cup in 2009;
    -holds the Penguins record for assists (63) and points (102) in a season by a rookie;
    -holds the NHL record as the 1st rookie to record 100 penalty minutes and 100 points in a season:
    -is the youngest player in NHL history to record 100 points in a season;
    -is the youngest player in NHL history to record 200 career NHL points;
    -is the youngest player to record 2 consecutive 100 point seasons;
    -is the youngest player voted to the starting lineup of the All-Star Game;
    -is the youngest player to win the Art Ross Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award;
    -is the youngest player to be named to the 1st All-Star Team;
    -is the youngest player to lead the NHL playoffs in scoring;
    -is the youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup;
    -holds the NHL record for the fewest games played by an NHL team’s leading scorer (66 points in 41 games in 2010/11);
    -when he won the Art Ross Trophy in 06/07, he became the youngest scoring champion in any major North American pro sport;
    -shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer with Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay in 2010;
    -won the Stanley Cup in 2009;
    -won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer in 2007;
    -won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL’s best player in 2007 as voted by the players;
    -won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP in 2007;
    -was named to the NHL 1st All-Star Team in 2007;
    -was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2006;
    -has played in four All-Star Games to date;
    -has won the Mark Messier Leadership Award twice, the first in January 2007 (when it was a monthly award), and the second in 2010 (when it was an annual award).
  • RECCHI: 389 Games, 154 G – 231 A – 385 P
  • Drafted in the 67th Overall in the 1988 draft by the Penguins, Recchi is perhaps best remembered for his high-scoring ways playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was with the Pens that he got started, and he had some fine seasons there too.  He had two 30+ goal seasons (including 33 in just 58 games in 1991/92, before being traded to Philly where he added another 10 goals to finish the season with 43 total) and a 40 goal season in 1990/91, as well as seasons of 67 points (74 games, 1989/90), 113 points (78 games, 1990/91) and 70 points (58 games, 1991/92).  He was a major part of the Penguin’s first Stanley Cup win in 1991, scoring 34 points in 24 games.
  • After being traded to the Flyers, he had several great seasons there, followed by a stop in Montreal, returned to the Flyers, and finally signed back with Pittsburgh in 2005, putting up another 24 goals and 57 points in 63 games despite being aged 37.  He was traded at the deadline to Carolina, where he won his second Stanley Cup (he holds the 2nd longest span between Stanley Cup wins at 15 years), but returned to Pittsburgh again the following season and put up another 24 goals and 68 points at the age of 38/39.  He played another 19 games the following season for the Penguins, but a slow start saw him traded to Tampa Bay.  He then signed with the Bruins in 2008, where he won his 3rd Stanley Cup in 2011 before retiring at the age of 43, after 1652 NHL games (4th All-Time), and finishing 12th on the All-Time list with 1533 points.  He was also the last active player who had played in the NHL in the 1980s.   An astonishing career, and it all started with the Penguins.  He played in one All-Star Game as a Penguin, and was named to the 1992 2nd All-Star Team in a season which was primarily spent in Pittsburgh.

3RD LINE:

Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin

JAMES NEAL—-EVGENI MALKIN—-JEAN PRONOVOST

  • NEAL: 100 Games, 41 G – 46 A – 87 P
  • James Neal has only been a Penguin for exactly 100 regular season games, but has already made his mark.  He definitely struggled in his first 20 games, coming over at the trade deadline in 2011 from Dallas and only putting up 1 goal and 6 points (after having 21 goals and 39 points in 59 games so far that season).  He was brought in to be the scoring winger that Crosby and Malkin had never had, but it didn’t look good.  But then came the 2011/12 season.  Neal was outstanding, putting up 40 goals and 81 points in 80 games and playing in the All-Star Game, and also put up 6 points in 5 playoff games.  It certainly remains to be seen if he’ll continue this great stretch of play and truly become that elite goal-scoring winger the Penguins have always wanted, but this season alone makes him stand out from the crowd amongst Penguins left-wingers.
  • MALKIN: 427 Games, 208 G – 319 A – 527 P
  • Evgeni “Geno” Malkin was well-hyped before entering the NHL in 2006/07, and he didn’t disappoint.  Drafted 2nd Overall in 2004, behind Alex Ovechkin, Malkin opted to stay in Russia (a transfer dispute also played a part) for two more seasons before finally coming over to the NHL.  He was held out of the first few games of the season of an injury in the preseason, but when he began playing he lit the NHL on fire, scoring goals and points at a fantastic rate.  He has since become an integral part of the Penguins, and giving the team an incredible one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin down the middle; the two often find themselves playing together should the team be struggling to score.  He’s big, skilled, fast, aggressive, and equally talented as a passer and a scorer.  He has become particularly renowned for raising his game when it matters most, such as in the playoffs or when Crosby is out of the lineup with injury, and has left Crosby’s shadow to be regarded as one of the league’s best players in his own right, often competing (and sometimes winning) the lead league in points.  He was a major part of the Penguin’s Stanley Cup win in 2009.
  • Malkin’s achievements as a Penguin are as follows:
    -one 20+ goal season, two 30+ goal seasons, one 40+ goal season, and one 50 goal season;
    -one 37 point season (in 43 games in 10/11), one 77 point season (67 games, 09/10), two 100+ point seasons and a career high of 113 points in 08/09;
    -32 goals and 81 points in 68 career NHL playoff games, including 36 points in 24 games in 2009;
    -first NHL player since 1917/18 to score goals in each of his first six career NHL games;
    -longest point streak by a Russian in the NHL at 15 games (twice);
    -most consecutive playoff games with multiple points for the Pittsburgh Penguins at 6 games;
    -2nd fastest Russian to score 500 career NHL points, in 413 games (behind only Ovechkin at 373 games);
    -first Russian player, and only the second ever player, to lead both the NHL and the IIHF World Championships in scoring in the same season, in 2011/12 (Wayne Gretzky did it in 1981/82);
    -played in four NHL All-Star Games;
    -named to the 1st All-Star Team 3 times;
    -won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 2007;
    -won the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 2012;
    -won the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester Pearson Award) as the Most Outstanding Player (voted by the players) in 2012;
    -won the Art Ross Trophy twice, in 2009 and 2012 (the only person in the last decade to win the award twice, putting an end to a streak of 9 different winners in 9 different years);
    -first Russian player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (2009) as Playoff MVP, leading the league in scoring in the playoffs that year;
    -named Penguin’s MVP three times;
    -won the Kharlamov Trophy as the Best Russian Player in the NHL in 2012.
  • PRONOVOST: 753 Games, 316 G – 287 A – 603 P
  • Jean Pronovost was one of the stars of the Penguins teams of the 1970s, playing 10 seasons for the team from 1968 to 1978.  Coming over from Boston in a trade, Pronovost was the younger brother, by 15 years, of star NHL defenceman and Hall of Famer Marcel Pronovost, who played for both Detroit and Toronto from 1949 to 1970.  He was a gritty, smart and skilled two-way forward, whose speed and intensity helped him to be a consistent scorer for the team.
  • As a Penguin, he had three 20+ goal seasons, two 30+ goal seasons, three 40+ goal seasons and a career high 52 goal season in 1975/76, as well as four 40+ point seasons, one 50+ point season, two 60+ point seasons, two 70+ point seasons and a career high 104 points in 1975/76.  He has the distinction of being the first Penguin to score 50 goals in a season, and 100 points in a season.

4TH LINE:

Ron Francis

Ron Francis

RANDY CUNNEYWORTH—-RON FRANCIS—-RICK TOCCHET

  • CUNNEYWORTH: 295 Games, 101 G – 115 A – 216 P
  • Acquired from Buffalo in 1985, Randy Cunneyworth had so far struggled to stick in the NHL, but joining the Pittsburgh Penguins changed that.  In his first season with Pittsburgh, his first full one in the NHL, he scored 15 goals and 45 points, before improving to 26 goals and 53 points the following year, and improving even more to 35 goals and 74 points in 1987/88, and then adding another 25 goals the following year before moving on to Winnipeg.  He bounced around the league for a few more years, but never matched the solid goal scoring he achieved in four seasons in Pittsburgh.  Most recently, he was the interim Head Coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
  • FRANCIS: 533 Games, 164 G – 449 A – 613 P
  • Seriously, the number of incredible centres the Penguins have had over the years borders on the ridiculous.  Ron Francis is probably one of the most underrated forwards in NHL history, and has been described as a model of consistency and durability – he averaged over a point per game in his career, over 23 NHL seasons averaging 77 games played per year.  He won three Lady Byng Trophies over his career for gentlemanly conduct, and is second all-time in career assists with 1249 behind only Wayne Gretzky, fourth all-time in career points with 1798 (that’s the stat that most people forget about), third all-time in games played with 1731, and twenty-first all-time in career goals with 549 – not bad for a guy who never scored more than 32 goals.
  • In terms of his career with the Penguins, he was traded to the team in 1991 after having already been a star player for the Hartford Whalers (now the Carolina Hurricanes) for 10 seasons, being captain for 6 of them.  This gave the Pens an incredible one-two punch down the middle of Francis and Lemieux, along with Jagr on the wing.  Francis was skilled, a great passer, a quality two-way player, and a leader.   This acquisition was major for the team, and ultimately led to the team winning it’s first Stanley Cup just 3 months later.  He was instrumental to the team when they repeated as champions the following season, especially with Lemieux missing much of the season due to injury and Francis having to take over the leadership role.  He spent 7 seasons in Pittsburgh, captaining the team twice, before returning to his original franchise (by now located in Carolina) to continue on in the twilight of his excellent career, before finishing with a brief stint in Toronto in 2004.
  • His achievements as a Penguin are as follows:
    -six 20+ goal seasons;
    -two 50+ point seasons (including 59 points in 44 games during the lockout shortened 1994/95 sesason), one 80+ point season, two 90+ point seasons, one 100 point season and a career high 119 points in 1995/96;
    -in 97 playoff games with the team, he scored 32 goals and 100 points;
    -two Stanley Cup Championships;
    -twice led the league in assists;
    -in 1994/95, became the first player in NHL history to win both the Frank Selke Trophy as the NHL’s Top Defensive Forward and the Lady Byng Trophy for Gentlemanly Conduct in the same season;
    -won the NHL Plus/Minus Award in 1995;
    -played in one NHL All-Star Game;
    -was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • TOCCHET: 150 Games, 76 G – 103 A – 179 P
  • Tocchet was only a Penguin for a short amount of time, from 1992 to 1994, but he had a major impact on the Penguins during that period.  A skilled power forward and good leader, he arrived at the Trade Deadline in 1992 from Philadelphia in exchange for Mark Recchi, and scored 14 goals and 30 points in just 19 games, and adding 19 points and in 14 playoff games as the Penguins rolled to their second consecutive Stanley Cup win.  The following season, his first full one in Pittsburgh, Tocchet scored 48 goals and 109 points, adding 13 points in 12 games in the playoffs.  He then scored 14 goals and 40 points in 51 games the following year, before joining Los Angeles in 1994.

13TH FORWARD:

SYL APPS JR.

  • Originally drafted in 1964 by the NY Rangers, but not playing his first NHL season until 1970, the son of former star Toronto Maple Leaf forward Syl Apps became a star centre in his own right when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Apps Jr. was a big-name player for the expansion Penguins, who only came into being in 1967.  He had three 20+ goal seasons for the team and a high of 32 goals in 1975/76, as well as a seasons of 25 points (in 31 games), 59 points, 61 points, 79 points, twice reaching 85 points, and a career high of 99 points in 1975/76.  He was traded to LA 9 games into the 1977/78 season after not scoring a goal (though he had 7 assists), and retired after 3 years there.

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

1ST PAIRING:

Paul Coffey

Paul Coffey

PAUL COFFEY—-LARRY MURPHY

  • COFFEY: 331 Games, 108 G – 332 A – 440 P
  • Having already been a record-breaking superstar defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers for 7 years, winning 3 Stanley Cups with the team, much was expected of Coffey when he was traded to Pittsburgh in 1988 in return for Craig Simpson.  He didn’t disappoint.  The Penguins were a pretty awful team at this time, but had some good young players (including phenom Mario Lemieux) and a Norris Trophy-winning defender could only help their rise to the top.  In four and a half seasons in Pittsburgh, Coffey was pretty sensational, being a big part of the Penguins’ first ever Stanley Cup win in 1991, before being traded to LA in 1992, being reunited (albeit briefly) with Wayne Gretzky.
  • Coffey’s achievements as a Penguin were as follows:
    -seasons of 67 points (in 46 games, 87/88), 113 points (88/89), 103 points (89/90), 93 points (90/91), and 64 points in 54 games in 91/92;
    -26 points in 23 playoff games;
    -one Stanley Cup Championship (1991);
    -one 1st All-Star Team selection and one 2nd All-Star Team selection;
    -played in 4 All-Star Games;
    -during his time in Pittsburgh in 1992, he became the NHL’s all-time leader on defence in goals, assists and points, overtaking Denis Potvin (and since passed by Ray Bourque), and he would still play another 9 years in the league after that;
    -in 1990 he became only the 2nd defenceman in NHL history to ever reach 1000 career points, managing it in just 770 games;
    -is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • MURPHY: 336 Games, 78 G – 223 A – 301 P
  • Larry Murphy was an outstanding defender for the Penguins for four and half years after being traded there from the Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas).  He was already a 10 year veteran star in the league, having already played for LA, Washington, and Minnesota, being regarded as one of the best d-men in the league in the late 80s.  Along with Coffey, he was a cornerstone of the Penguin’s d-corps and helped lead them to their first Stanley Cup win in 1991, repeating the feat in 1992.  He was traded in 1995 to Toronto, before finishing his career in Detroit, winning two more Cups there – in the process becoming the only NHL player to win 4 Stanley Cups in the 1990s.
  • Murphy’s achievements as a Penguin were as follows:
    -two 10+ goal seasons, and two 20+ goal seasons;
    -two 70+ point seasons, a career high 85 points in 1992/93, as well as seasons of 28 points in 44 games and 38 points in 48 games;
    -in 74 playoff games, scored 72 points;
    -won 2 Stanley Cups;
    -second runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s Best Defenceman in 1993;
    -twice named to the NHL 2nd All-Star Team;
    -played in the 1994 All-Star Game;
    -is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

2ND PAIRING:

RONALD STACKHOUSE—-RANDY CARLYLE

  • STACKHOUSE: 621 Games, 66 G – 277 A – 343 P
  • Joining the Penguins in 1974 from Detroit, Ron Stackhouse would spend the bulk of his career there, retiring in 1982 as a member of the team.  With the team had one 19 point season (in 36 games after being traded there), two 20+ point seasons, two 30+ point seasons, two 40+ point seasons, one 60 point season and a career high 71 points, and also had three seasons of 10 or more goals.  He played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1980, and tied two NHL records (in the same game in March 1975) – scoring four assists in one period, and scoring 6 assists in one game.  He was a big, quality two-way defenceman for some pretty poor Penguins teams throughout the 1970s.
  • CARLYLE: 397 Games, 66 G – 257 A – 323 P
  • Although he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976, it wasn’t until he became a member of the Penguins in 1978 that Randy Carlyle came into his own as a full-time NHL defender.  He spent 5 and a half seasons in Pittsburgh, putting up impressive point totals: a 26 point season (in 50 games), a 36 point season, a 47 point season, a 56 point season (in 61 games), a 75 point season (in 73 games), and a career high 83 points in 76 games in 1980/81.  He also scored more than 10 goals four times in that same span.  As well as being talented offensively he was also known for being tough and had an impressive mean streak.  That career season in 1981 also saw him get named to the 1st All-Star Team, and win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman.  He was traded to Winnipeg in 1984, where he spent the remainder of his playing career anchoring the Jets’ defence and mentoring their young defenders.  He later went on to become an NHL head coach, leading the Anaheim Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in 2007, and is currently Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the same team that drafted him back in 1976.

3RD PAIRING:

SERGEI GONCHAR—-KRIS LETANG

  • GONCHAR: 322 Games, 54 G – 205 A – 259 P
  • Having already had a successful NHL career with the Washington Capitals and briefly with the Boston Bruins, Sergei Gonchar joined the then-rebuilding Pittsburgh team as a high-profile free-agent following the 2004/05 lockout.  Joining a team with several young stars (most notably Crosby and the following season Malkin), Gonchar was an important veteran presence on the squad, anchoring the defence and providing an elite puck-moving presence.  In his 5 seasons with the team, he had three 50+ point seasons, two 60+ point seasons, and a season of 19 points in 25 games; he also only scored less than 10 goals in a season once during that span.
  • He placed 4th in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman in 2008, and was an important part of the 2009 Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup, posting 14 points in 22 games; overall in 60 playoff games as a Penguin he scored 44 points.  His importance in the revival of the Penguins franchise extended beyond the ice though, as he was an important mentor and friend to fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin, who came over to North America in 2006 as a non-English-speaker – Gonchar took him in and helped him settle in to his new life in the US, which can only have helped Malkin in his ascent to superstardom and becoming a leader on the Pens.  In March 2010 he became the first Russian defenceman in NHL history to reach 200 career goals, and played in the All-Star Game in 2008.
  • LETANG: 350 Games, 39 G – 132 A – 171 P
  • Not only did the Penguins draft their future No.1 Centre in 2005, they also lucked out by drafting their future No.1 d-man.  Kris Letang endured his fair share of growing pains and struggles in the NHL, but has finally arrived in the last two or three seasons as a talented two-way defenceman, particularly on offence.  As a Penguin, he has posted one 20+ point season, one 30+ point season, a 42 point season (in just 51 games) and a 50 point season.  He was an important cog in the Penguin’s Stanley Cup win in 2009, posting 13 points in 23 games.  He has played in two All-Star Games, and as mentioned won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

7TH D-MAN:

SERGEI ZUBOV

  • Already an established NHL star by the time he arrived in Pittsburgh in 1995, having been a brilliant two-way d-man for the NY Rangers and being one of the first four Russians to win the Stanley Cup in 1994, he only spent one season as a Penguin (reportedly due to not getting on well with Lemieux) but made his mark.  He recorded 66 points in just 64 games, was +28, and added 15 points in 19 playoff games.  He was traded after the season to Dallas, the team that would really define his excellent career.

GOALIES

STARTER:

Tom Barrasso

Tom Barrasso

TOM BARRASSO

  • Stats in a Penguins uniform: -Barrasso: 460 GP, 226 Wins, 153 Losses, 53 Ties, 8 Overtime Losses
  • Barrasso was already a notable NHL goalie by the time he was traded to Pittsburgh in 1988, having already won the Calder Trophy and the Vezina Trophy in his first NHL season – only the 3rd player in history to achieve such a feat, and made all the more incredible by the fact that he had come to the NHL straight from high school, never playing a minute in the minor leagues or even major junior – and he immediately became the Penguin’s starting goalie.  He spent 12 seasons as a Penguin, putting up four 20+ win seasons, one 30+ win season and a career high 43 wins in 1992/93.
  • He backstopped the team to two straight Stanley Cups, earning a reputation as a big-game goalie, and was named to the 2nd All-Star Team in 1993.  In 1997 he became the first US-born goalie to reach 300 NHL wins, holds the most career NHL assists by a goalie with 48 (also the record for the most points), the record for most consecutive NHL playoff wins with 14, and tied for the most consecutive wins in one playoff season with 11.

BACK-UP:

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY

  • Stats in a Penguins uniform: -Fleury: 434 GP, 226 Wins, 143 Losses, 2 Ties, 41 Overtime Losses
  • I am not convinced that Fleury is a top-level NHL goalie, but there is no denying the heights he has reached with the team and the place he has in the hearts of Penguins fans.  Chosen 1st Overall in the 2003 draft by the Pens, Fleury’s first few NHL seasons were a mixed bag, but the talent level was clear.  He is considered one of the building blocks of the Pittsburgh rebuild that started with himself being drafted, followed by fellow high picks Malkin, Crosby and Staal, and culminating with the team reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2008.  He had performed extremely well during the team’s trip to the finals that year, unfortunately losing to Detroit in 6 games, but the team would rebound to beat the Wings in a rematch the following year.  Fleury’s own performance was mixed, ranging from awful to brilliant, but on the whole he is considered a big reason for the team winning.
  • As a Penguin, he has put up three 30+ win seasons and two 40+ win seasons, as well as 43 playoff wins in 75 games.  He has played in one NHL All-Star Game.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

  • RICK KEHOE – right winger played 11 NHL seasons for Pittsburgh from 1974 to 1985.  Put up four 20+ goal seasons, four 30+ goal seasons and a career high 55 goals in 1981.  A classy and clean player, he won the Lady Byng Trophy for Gentlemanly Play in 1981, and retired as the team’s all-time leader in points, since surpassed by Lemieux and Jagr.  He played in two NHL All-Star Games.
  • MARTIN STRAKA – small Czech forward was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1992, but was traded in 1995 to Ottawa.  Later returned to Pittsburgh in 1997, where he would have the best years of his career.  Tallied two 20+ goal seasons and two 30+ goal seasons, as well as a career high 95 points in 2001 as a speedy two-way forward.
  • RON SCHOCK – center who played 8 seasons in Pittsburgh from 1969 to 1977, recording five 40+ point seasons, one 60+ point season and a career high 86 point season in 1974/75.
  • ALEX KOVALEV – supremely skilled right winger played 5 and a bit seasons for Pittsburgh in two stints, firstly from 1998 to 2003, and then 20 games in 2011.  Had three 20+ goal seasons, one 30+ goal season and a career high 44 goals in 2000/01, as well as a career high of 95 points that same season.  Always considered a bit of a disappointment due to his extremely high skill level but relatively underwhelming numbers, he was nonetheless a very good offensive player for the Pens.  Played in 2 All-Star Games.
  • ROB BROWN – a great example of what playing with Mario Lemieux could do for a player, Brown was a talented junior player putting up mega numbers in the WHL and did manage to put up pretty decent numbers in his first few NHL seasons with Pittsburgh.  His career is often defined however by his 115 point, 49 goal season in 1988/99 playing primarily on Lemieux’s wing and fuelled by an insane (and unsustainable) shooting percentage, totals he would never come close to before or since.  He had scored 44 points in 51 games the year before, and put up 80 points in 80 games the following year, plus he had a 42 point season in 44 games for Hartford (now Carolina) in 1990/91, but following that he struggled with injuries and form and bounced between the minor leagues and the NHL for the remainder of his career.  Returned to Pittsburgh however in 1997, to put up three pretty solid if unspectacular seasons.
  • JOE MULLEN – talented American forward spent six seasons with Pittsburgh to end his great career, winning two Stanley Cups and having two 30+ goal seasons and a 42 goal season in 1991/92, as well as two 70+ point seasons and an 87 point season in 91/92.
  • DOUG SHEDDEN – played four & a half seasons for the Pens from 1981 to 1986, putting up two 20+ goal seasons and two 30+ goal seasons, never reaching those heights again.
  • PIERRE LAROUCHE – “Lucky” Larouche was a skilled centre for Pittsburgh, drafted 8th Overall by them in 1974 and spending four great seasons with them.  Had seasons of 31 goals, 53 goals and 29 goals, as well as a career high 111 points in his second season.
  • JORDAN STAAL – quality two-way forward drafted second overall by Pittsburgh in 2006.  Often considered to have been “buried” behind Crosby and Malkin and therefore not really able to shine offensively, he nonetheless has become one of the most respected “3rd line” centres in the NHL for his defensive ability.  He played six seasons with the Pens, scoring 20+ goals four times.  Broke the NHL records for youngest player to score two shorthanded goals in one game, the youngest NHL player to score on a penalty shot, the youngest NHL player to score a hat trick, and the most shorthanded goals by a rookie.  Was a finalist for the Calder Trophy in 2007 and the Selke Trophy in 2010, and won the Stanley Cup with the team in 2009.  Was traded to Carolina in 2012, where it is expected that he will be able to emerge from the shadows of Crosby and Malkin and post impressive numbers alongside his brother Eric.
  • PETR NEDVED – talented Czech forward dealt to Pittsburgh in 1995 and had his best offensive years there, putting up 45 goals and 99 points in his first year and 33 goals and 71 points in his second.
  • DAN QUINN – forward played parts of five seasons for Pittsburgh from 1986 to 1990 and again in 1997, had 28 goals, 40 goals and 34 goals (and 94 points) in his first 3 seasons there.
  • JOHN CULLEN – centre who played four seasons with the team, first from 1988 to 1991 and again in 1994/95.  Had two 30+ goal seasons, and two 90+ point seasons.
  • MICHAEL BULLARD – forward played 6 and a bit seasons for the Pens from 1980 to 1986.  Had one 20+ goal season, two 30+ goal seasons, one 40+ goal season and a career high 51 goals in 1983/84.
  • ULF SAMUELSSON – notoriously hard-nosed defenceman played 5 NHL seasons with the Pens from 1990 to 1995, providing the team with a tough, defensive minded presence and helping them to two straight Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
  • PASCAL DUPUIS – quality defensive forward came over from Atlanta in 2008 and was an important part of the Penguins team that eventually won the Cup in 2009.  Often finds himself as the defensive presence on Crosby’s line, and the fan favourite even had a 25 goal, 59 point season in 2011/12.
  • BROOKS ORPIK – tough defensive defenceman has been a cornerstone of the Pens blueline since 2003, providing a solid presence and helping lead the team to the Cup in 2009 as an Alternate Captain.
  • ALEKSEY MOROZOV – often considered the best player not playing in the NHL from 2005 to the present, Morozov was a good player for the Penguins from 1997 to 2004.  Didn’t put up overwhelming numbers, but was a good secondary presence.  Has since gone on to a stunning career in the Russian KHL.
  • MAX TALBOT – quality defensive player for the Pens for 6 years, was a character player and a popular team-mate, as well as a fan favourite.  Capable of chipping in offensively, was an important part of the team’s Cup win in 2009, scoring the team’s two goals in Game 7 of the series to win it for them.
  • BRYAN TROTTIER – previously the superstar centre for the NY Islanders, Trottier’s offensive skills had declined quite rapidly before he was released by the Islanders in 1990.  However, he was still effective physically and defensively, and the Penguins lapped him up as a leader and mentor to their young team.  The move paid off, as Trottier won his 5th and 6th Stanley Cups with the team.
Advertisements

4 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s