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Pittsburgh Penguins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pittsburgh Penguins
2020–21 Pittsburgh Penguins season
Pittsburgh Penguins logo (2016).svg
DivisionEastern
Founded1967
HistoryPittsburgh Penguins
1967–present
Home arenaPPG Paints Arena
CityPittsburgh, Pennsylvania
ColorsBlack, Pittsburgh gold, white[1][2][3]
     
MediaAT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
The X (105.9 FM)
ESPN Pittsburgh (970 AM)
Pittsburgh Penguins Radio Network
Owner(s)Ronald Burkle
Mario Lemieux
General managerRon Hextall
Head coachMike Sullivan
CaptainSidney Crosby
Minor league affiliatesWilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
Stanley Cups5 (1990–91, 1991–92, 2008–09, 2015–16, 2016–17)
Conference championships6 (1990–91, 1991–92, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2015–16, 2016–17)
Presidents' Trophy1 (1992–93)
Division championships8 (1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1997–98, 2007–08, 2012–13, 2013–14)
Official websitenhl.com/penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins (colloquially known as the Pens) are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference.

Founded during the 1967 expansion, the Penguins have qualified for six Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Stanley Cup five times – in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, and 2017. Along with the Edmonton Oilers, the Penguins are tied for the most Stanley Cup championships among non-Original Six teams and sixth overall. With their Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017, the Penguins became the first back-to-back champions in the salary cap era. Several former members of the team have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, including co-owner Mario Lemieux, who purchased the Penguins in 1999 and brought the club out of bankruptcy. Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin have won the Hart Memorial Trophy while playing for the franchise.

Since 2010, the Penguins have played their home games at PPG Paints Arena, originally known as Consol Energy Center. The team previously played at the Civic Arena, also known as The Igloo. The club are presently affiliated with two minor league teams, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, and the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.

Team history

Early years (1967–1984)

Before the Penguins, Pittsburgh had been the home of the NHL's Pirates from 1925 to 1930 and of the American Hockey League Hornets franchise from 1936 to 1967 (with a short break from 1956 to 1961). In the spring of 1965, Jack McGregor, a state senator from Kittanning, began lobbying campaign contributors and community leaders to bring an NHL franchise back to Pittsburgh. The group focused on leveraging the NHL as an urban renewal tool for Pittsburgh. The senator formed a group of local investors that included H. J. Heinz Company heir H. J. Heinz III, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, and the Mellon family's Richard Mellon Scaife. The projected league expansion depended on securing votes from the then-current NHL owners; to ensure that Pittsburgh would be selected as one of the expansion cities, McGregor enlisted Rooney to petition votes from James D. Norris, owner of the Chicago Black Hawks, and his brother Bruce Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The effort was successful, and on February 8, 1966, the National Hockey League awarded an expansion team to Pittsburgh for the 1967–68 season. The Penguins paid $2.5 million ($19.9 million today) for their entry and $750,000 ($5.8 million today) more for start-up costs. The Civic Arena's capacity was then boosted from 10,732 to 12,500 to meet the NHL requirements for expansion. The Pens also paid an indemnification bill to settle with the Detroit Red Wings, which owned the Pittsburgh Hornets franchise. The investor group named McGregor president and chief executive officer, and he represented Pittsburgh on the NHL's Board of Governors.[4][5]

The Civic Arena's capacity was increased in order to meet NHL requirements for a franchise. The arena served as the Penguins' home arena from 1967 to 2010.
The Civic Arena's capacity was increased in order to meet NHL requirements for a franchise. The arena served as the Penguins' home arena from 1967 to 2010.

A contest was held where 700 of 26,000 entries picked "Penguins" as the nickname for the team. Mark Peters had the winning entry (which was inspired by the fact that the team was to play in the "Igloo", the nickname of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena),[6][7] a logo was chosen that had a penguin in front of a triangle, which symbolized the "Golden Triangle" of downtown Pittsburgh."[6][8] The Penguins' first general manager, Jack Riley, opened the first pre-season camp for the franchise in Brantford, Ontario,[9] on September 13, 1967, playing the franchise's first exhibition match in Brantford against the Philadelphia Flyers on September 23, 1967. The Pens, along with the rest of the expansion teams, were hampered by restrictive rules which kept most major talent with the existing "Original Six" teams. Beyond aging sniper Andy Bathgate, All-Star defenseman Leo Boivin (who had begun his professional career with the Hornets) and Ranger veteran Earl Ingarfield, the first Penguins team was largely manned by a cast of former minor leaguers. A number of the players had played for the Hornets the previous season: Bathgate, wingers Val Fonteyne and Ab McDonald, and goaltenders Hank Bassen and Joe Daley. George Sullivan was named the head coach for the club's first two seasons, and McDonald was named the team's first captain.[10]

On October 11, 1967, league president Clarence Campbell and McGregor jointly dropped the ceremonial first puck of the Penguins' opening home game against the Montreal Canadiens.[4] On October 21, 1967, they became the first team from the expansion class to defeat an Original Six team, as they defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4–2. However, the Penguins went 27–34–13 and finished in fifth place in the West Division, missing the playoffs and ending with the third worst record in the league. The team's best player proved to be longtime Cleveland Barons AHL goaltender Les Binkley, who recorded a 2.88 goals against average and was second in the league in shutouts with six. Defensive winger Ken Schinkel won the team's sole league honor, being named to represent the Penguins in the NHL All-Star Game. Bathgate led the team in scoring with 59 points, but retired at season's end. McDonald, who led the team in goals and was second in team scoring, was also gone at season's end, traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for center Lou Angotti.[5]

The next season, 1968–69, saw the team slip in the standings in the midst of a sharp drop in form by Binkley, into sixth place and with the league's worst record. Several changes were made to try to improve the team, resulting in Boivin and several others being traded, and new players—including longtime future Pens star Jean Pronovost—making their debuts. No captain was named to replace McDonald, and the team went with four alternate captains. Schinkel was again the team's lone All-Star.

Triumph of playoff berths and tragedy of Briere (1969–1974)

Michel Briere's number was taken out of circulation after his career-ending accident in 1970. It was later formally retired in 2001.
Michel Briere's number was taken out of circulation after his career-ending accident in 1970. It was later formally retired in 2001.

In the 1969 draft the Penguins selected Michel Briere who although being chosen 26th soon was drawing comparisons to Phil Esposito and Bobby Clarke. Joining the team in November, he finished as the second place rookie scorer in the NHL (behind Bobby Clarke) with 44 points (57th overall), and third on the Penguins. Briere placed second in Calder Memorial Trophy voting for Rookie of the Year honors to Chicago goaltender Tony Esposito in leading Pittsburgh to its first NHL playoff berth since the 1928 Pirates. The Penguins defeated the Oakland Seals in a four-game sweep in the quarter-finals, with Briere scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime. In the semi-final round, defending conference champions St. Louis Blues got the best of the Penguins during six games. Briere led the team in playoff scoring, recording five goals (including three game winners) and eight points. Tragedy struck the Penguins just days after their playoff heroics. On May 15, 1970, Briere was in a car crash in his native Quebec, suffering brain trauma and entering a coma from which he would never recover, dying a year later. His number 21 jersey was never reissued, remaining out of circulation for the Penguins until it was formally retired in 2001.[5]

In the 1970–71 season, the Penguins finished five games out of the playoffs with a 21–37–20 record, the fourth-worst record in the league. Pittsburgh achieved a playoff berth in 1972 only to be swept by the Chicago Black Hawks in the first round. With the exception of a handful of decent players such as Ken Schinkel, Pronovost, Syl Apps Jr., Keith McCreary, agitator Bryan Watson and goaltender Les Binkley, talent was otherwise thin, but enough for the Penguins to reach the playoffs in both 1970 and 1972. The Penguins battled the California Golden Seals for the division cellar in 1974, when Riley was fired as general manager and replaced with Jack Button. Button traded for Steve Durbano, Ab DeMarco, Bob "Battleship" Kelly and Bob Paradise. The personnel moves proved successful, as the team improved to a 28–41–9 record, although they remained nine points away from a playoff berth.

However, in early 1975, the Penguins' creditors demanded payment of back debts, forcing the team into bankruptcy. The doors to the team's offices were padlocked, and it looked like the Penguins might fold or relocate.[11] Around the same time, rumors had begun to circulate that the Penguins and California Golden Seals were to be relocated to Seattle and Denver respectively, the two cities that were to have been the sites of an expansion for the 1976–77 season.[12] Through the intervention of a group that included former Minnesota North Stars head coach Wren Blair, the team was prevented from folding and remained in Pittsburgh, eventually being bought by shopping mall magnate Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr.

Playoff runs and a uniform change (1974–1982)

During the mid-1970s, Lowell MacDonald was paired with Syl Apps Jr. and Jean Pronovost, forming the Century Line. MacDonald played with the Penguins from 1970 to 1978.
During the mid-1970s, Lowell MacDonald was paired with Syl Apps Jr. and Jean Pronovost, forming the Century Line. MacDonald played with the Penguins from 1970 to 1978.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Pittsburgh iced some powerful offensive clubs, led by the likes of the "Century Line" of Syl Apps, Lowell MacDonald and Jean Pronovost. They nearly reached the Stanley Cup semi-finals in 1975, but were ousted from the playoffs by the New York Islanders in one of the only four best-of-seven-game series in NHL history where a team came back from being down three games to none. As the 1970s wore on, the Penguins brought in other offensive weapons such as Rick Kehoe, Pierre Larouche and Ron Schock, along with solid blue-liners Ron Stackhouse and Dave Burrows. But the Pens' success beyond the regular season was always neutralized by mediocre team defense. Goaltender Denis Herron was a stalwart in goal for parts of six seasons. Baz Bastien, a former coach and general manager of the AHL's Hornets, later became general manager. The Penguins missed the playoffs in 1977–78 when their offense lagged, and Larouche was traded for Peter Mahovlich and Peter Lee. Bastien traded prime draft choices for several players whose best years were already behind them, such as Orest Kindrachuk, Tom Bladon and Rick MacLeish, and the team would suffer in the early 1980s as a result. The decade closed with a playoff appearance in 1979 and a rousing opening series win over the Buffalo Sabres before a second-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins.[5]

The Penguins began the 1980s by changing their team colors; in January 1980, the team switched from wearing blue and white to their present-day scheme of black and gold to honor Pittsburgh's other sports teams, the Pirates and the Steelers, as well as the Flag of Pittsburgh. Both the Pirates and Steelers had worn black and gold for decades, and both were fresh off world championship seasons at that time. The Bruins protested this color change, claiming a monopoly on black and gold, but the Penguins defended their choice by stating that the NHL Pirates also used black and gold as their team colors and that black and gold were Pittsburgh's traditional sporting colors. The NHL agreed and Pittsburgh was allowed to use black and gold. The Penguins officially debuted wearing black and gold against the St. Louis Blues at the Civic Arena on January 30, 1980.[13] On the ice, the Penguins began the 1980s with defenseman Randy Carlyle, and prolific scorers Paul Gardner and Mike Bullard, but little else.

During the early part of the decade, the Penguins made a habit of being a tough draw for higher-seeded opponents in the playoffs. In 1980, the 13th-seeded Penguins took the Bruins to the limit in their first round playoff series. The following season, as the 15th seed, they lost the decisive game of their first-round series in overtime to the heavily favored St. Louis Blues. Then, in the 1982 playoffs, the Penguins held a 3–1 lead late in the fifth and final game of their playoff series against the reigning champions, the New York Islanders. However, the Islanders rallied to force overtime and won the series on a goal by John Tonelli. It would be the Pens' final playoff appearance until 1989.

Lemieux–Jagr era (1984–2005)

Mario Lemieux played for the Penguins in three stints (1984–1994, 1995–1997, 2000–2006).
Mario Lemieux played for the Penguins in three stints (1984–1994, 1995–1997, 2000–2006).

The team had the league's worst record in both the 1983 and 1984 seasons, and with the team suffering financial problems, it again looked as though the Penguins would either fold or relocate. Mario Lemieux, one of the most highly touted NHL draft picks in history, was due to be drafted in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. Heading towards the end of the season ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who were placed last, the Penguins made a number of questionable moves that appeared to weaken the team in the short-term. The Penguins posted three six-game winless streaks in the last 21 games of the season and earned the right to draft Lemieux amidst protests from Devils management.[14] Pittsburgh head coach Lou Angotti later admitted that a conscious decision was made to finish the season as the team with the worst record, stating in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that a mid-season lunch prompted the plan, in light of the fact that there was a high chance of the franchise folding if Lemieux was not drafted.[15] Other teams offered substantial trade packages for the draft choice, but the Penguins kept the pick and drafted Lemieux first overall. Lemieux paid dividends right away, scoring on his first ever shot of his first ever NHL shift, in his first NHL game. However, the team spent four more years out of the playoffs after his arrival. In the late 1980s, the Penguins finally gave Lemieux a strong supporting cast, trading for superstar defenseman Paul Coffey from the Edmonton Oilers (after the Oilers' 1987 Stanley Cup win) and bringing in young talent such as scorers Kevin Stevens, Rob Brown and John Cullen from the minors. Also, the team at last acquired a top-flight goaltender with the acquisition of Tom Barrasso from Buffalo. All this talent had an immediate impact in helping Lemieux lead the Pens; but the Penguins struggled to make the playoffs. The 1985–86 Pens unluckily missed the playoffs on the final day of the season by one game. In 1986–87, the Penguins missed the playoffs by just two games and saw four teams with equal or worse records qualify. In 1987–88, the Penguins, for the second time in a row, missed the playoffs by one game.[10]

In 1989, Pittsburgh finally broke through the barrier and made the playoffs, on the back of Lemieux leading the league in goals, assists and points. On December 31, 1988, Lemieux became the only player in history to score a goal in all five possible game situations in the same game (even strength, shorthanded, penalty shot, power play, and empty net). The Pens shocked the New York Rangers in a four-game sweep in the first round, however their run was halted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round. The seven game defeat featured Mario Lemieux scoring five goals in the fifth game.[10]

Back-to-back Stanley Cup titles (1989–1997)

Bob Johnson coached the Pens to their first Stanley Cup title in 1991. His catchphrase: "It's a great day for hockey" became synonymous with the game of hockey and the Penguins.[16]
Bob Johnson coached the Pens to their first Stanley Cup title in 1991. His catchphrase: "It's a great day for hockey" became synonymous with the game of hockey and the Penguins.[16]

A herniated disc in Lemieux's back cut short his 1989–90 season, although he still amassed 123 points. However, the Penguins fell out of the playoff picture. The Penguins opted to strengthen their roster and support Lemieux in the 1990 off-season. Free agent signings (Bryan Trottier) and trades (Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson) played a major part of this. Arguably no move was bigger during this time than when the Penguins drafted Jaromir Jagr with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. The first Czechoslovak player to be drafted into the NHL without first needing to defect to the West, Jagr became the Penguins' second franchise player, and quickly developed into a superstar offensive talent. The roster overhaul culminated in the Penguins winning their first Stanley Cup title by defeating the Minnesota North Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals in six games, punctuated by an 8–0 victory in the deciding game, the largest margin of victory in a final Stanley Cup game in over 80 years. After the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals, the Penguins met with President George H. W. Bush, the first NHL team to ever visit the White House.[17] The following season, the team lost coach Bob Johnson to cancer, and Scotty Bowman took over as coach. Under Bowman, they swept the Chicago Blackhawks to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in 1991–92.[5][10]

Cancer revisited the Penguins in 1993 when Lemieux was tragically diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Only two months after the diagnosis, missing 24 out of 84 games, he came back to win his fourth Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion with 160 points, edging out Pat LaFontaine and Adam Oates. Despite the off-ice difficulties, Pittsburgh finished with a 56–21–7 record, the franchise's best regular season ever, winning the franchise's first (and, as of 2019, only) Presidents' Trophy. After Lemieux's return, the team played better than it ever had before, winning an NHL-record 17 consecutive games. Despite all of this success, they were eliminated in the second round by the New York Islanders in overtime of Game 7.[10][5]

The Penguins continued to be a formidable team throughout the 1990s. The stars of the Stanley Cup years were followed by the likes of forwards Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, Aleksey Morozov, Robert Lang and Petr Nedved, and defensemen Sergei Zubov, Darius Kasparaitis and Kevin Hatcher. Despite the departure of many of the franchise's Stanley Cup-winning roster, the Penguins fielded enough talent to reach the first round of the playoffs in 1994 (where they lost to the Washington Capitals in six games), the second round in 1995 (where they lost to the New Jersey Devils in five games) and the conference finals in 1996 (where they lost to the Florida Panthers in seven games). The 1997 playoffs marked a turning point, as the Penguins suffered a first-round elimination at the hands of the rival Philadelphia Flyers in five games.[10]

Lemieux's retirement and return (1997–2001)

Lemieux with the Penguins during the 2000–01 season, his first season after coming out of retirement.
Lemieux with the Penguins during the 2000–01 season, his first season after coming out of retirement.

The franchise was rocketed forward on April 6, 1997, when Mario Lemieux, citing ongoing health concerns, and disapproval with the way NHL hockey was being officiated, announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 1997 playoffs. Lemieux was so respected in the NHL, and his achievements over the course of his career were so great, that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the same year as he retired, the three-year waiting period being waived. His departure would essentially be the first in a series of events that would lead the Penguins once again into regular season stagnation, and to the brink of financial ruin.

The team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 1998 by the Montreal Canadiens, despite being the second-seeded team in the East. The following year, their playoff run ended in the second round when they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games. In 2000, the Penguins stunned the highly touted Washington Capitals 4–1 in the first round only to fall to the Philadelphia Flyers 4–2 in the second round. At this point, the lofty contracts handed out during the early 1990s were beginning to catch up with the franchise. Their free-spending ways culminated in the team owing in excess of $90 million to various creditors. Then-owners Howard Baldwin and Morris Belzberg (who bought the Penguins after their first Stanley Cup win) asked the players to defer their salaries to help pay the bills. When the deferred salaries finally came due, combined with other financial pressures, the Penguins were forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 1998. At this point, Lemieux stepped in with an unusual proposal to buy the team out of bankruptcy. The Penguins owed Lemieux $32.5 million in deferred salary, making him the team's largest individual creditor. He proposed to recover this money by converting it into equity—enough to give him controlling interest over the team. He also vowed to keep the team in Pittsburgh. The NHL and the courts agreed, and Lemieux (with help from supermarket tycoon Ronald Burkle) assumed control on September 3, 1999, thus saving the franchise for the second time.[5]

Lemieux once again shocked the hockey world by announcing at a press conference on December 8, 2000, his intentions to return to the Penguins as an active player. On December 27, 2000, Lemieux stepped onto NHL ice for the first time in 44 months, officially becoming the first player–owner in NHL history. Lemieux helped lead the Penguins deep into the 2001 playoffs, highlighted by an overtime victory against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 7 of the second round. Darius Kasparaitis scored the series-clinching goal to advance the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost in five games to the New Jersey Devils.[5]

Rebuilding (2001–2005)

Marc-Andre Fleury was drafted first overall in 2003 by the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury was drafted first overall in 2003 by the Penguins.

The Penguins' attendance had dwindled in the late 1990s. In 1998–99, the Penguins had an average attendance of 14,825 at home games, the lowest it had been since Lemieux's rookie year.[18] Reducing revenue on top of the previous bankruptcy necessitated salary shedding. The biggest salary move was the trading of superstar Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2001. The Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years in 2002, finishing in a tie for third-to-last in the conference. The following season they finished second-last. In the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Penguins selected goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with the first overall pick.[19][20]

The 2003–04 season was an ordeal with Lemieux missing all but 24 regular-season games with a hip injury, and attendance dipping to an average of 11,877 (the lowest average out of any NHL team), with just one sellout.[18] As the season progressed, the Penguins signed new head coach (and former Penguins player and commentator) Eddie Olczyk and opted not to include Fleury in the lineup for the bulk of the season. This culminated in the worst record in the NHL, as they won just 23 games. As in the 1980s, the Penguins' struggles were fortuitously concurrent with a string of NHL Entry Draft classes that would yield multiple world-class talents. The Penguins lost out on the first overall pick for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (Alexander Ovechkin), which went to the Washington Capitals. However, Ovechkin's countryman, center Evgeni Malkin, was similarly highly regarded, and Pittsburgh took him with the second overall pick. However, a transfer dispute between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) delayed his Pittsburgh debut.[21]

By this point, the Penguins had collapsed financially since the Stanley Cup-winning years of the early 1990s. Their home venue, the Civic Arena, had become the oldest arena in the NHL, and Lemieux had tried unsuccessfully to cut a deal with the city for a new facility. With Pittsburgh uninterested in building a new hockey arena for the struggling Penguins, Lemieux began looking into the possibilities of selling and/or relocating the team to Kansas City, Missouri.[22] The 2004–05 NHL season was canceled due to a lockout. One of the many reasons for the lockout included disagreements on the resolution of the financial struggles of teams like the Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, which had filed for bankruptcy protection.[23] In the midst of the lockout, the Penguins dispersed between the club's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and to European leagues.[5]

Crosby–Malkin era (2005–present)

Sidney Crosby during his sophomore season with the Penguins. He was drafted first overall by the team in the 2005 draft.
Sidney Crosby during his sophomore season with the Penguins. He was drafted first overall by the team in the 2005 draft.

With the lockout resolved in 2005, the NHL organized an unprecedented draft lottery to set the 2005 NHL Entry Draft selection order. The draft lottery, which was held behind closed doors in a "secure location", resulted in the Penguins being awarded the first overall pick.[24] This was the second time in NHL history the Penguins had won the first overall pick outright, their first overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft having come as the result of a trade with the Florida Panthers.[25][26] The draft that year was being touted as having the greatest rookie class since Lemieux, himself, had been drafted. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) superstar Sidney Crosby (who had been training with Lemieux over the summer)[24] was the consensus first overall pick, with many referring to the draft lottery process as "The Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes". The Penguins selected Crosby on July 30, 2005, with the top pick, instantly rekindling interest in hockey in Pittsburgh.[10]

The Penguins then began rebuilding the team under the salary cap. They signed free agents Sergei Gonchar, John LeClair and Zigmund Palffy and traded for goaltender Jocelyn Thibault. However, Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins' 2004 draft pick, second overall, could not report to Pittsburgh immediately due to a playing rights dispute with the Russian Superleague. The addition of Crosby paid instant dividends, with attendance rising by approximately 4,000 on average in the 2005–06 season.[18] However, Crosby's presence did not immediately translate into wins, as the team began the season with a long winless skid that resulted in a head coaching change from Olczyk to Michel Therrien. Palffy announced his retirement mid-season due to a lingering shoulder injury as the team's second-leading scorer. Then, on January 24, 2006, Lemieux announced his second retirement, this time permanently, after developing an irregular heart beat. He finished as the NHL's seventh all-time scorer (1,723), eighth in goals (690) and tenth in assists (1,033), but also with the second highest career points per game average (1.88), which is second to Wayne Gretzky's 1.92.[27][28]

Despite the team's various struggles, Crosby established himself as a star in the league, amassing 102 points in his debut season and finishing second to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for the Calder Memorial Trophy awarded each year to the league's top rookie. In the Penguins' final game of the season, Crosby tallied a goal and an assist to become the top scoring rookie in Penguins history (eclipsing Lemieux). The Penguins once again posted the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the highest goals-against total in the League. They received the second overall draft pick, their fourth top two pick in four years, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and selected touted two-way forward Jordan Staal. The team announced on April 20 that the contract for general manager Craig Patrick would not be renewed. Patrick had been the general manager since December 1989. On May 25, Ray Shero signed a five-year contract as general manager.

Runner–up and third Stanley Cup title (2006–2009)

Evgeni Malkin made an immediate impact, driving the Penguins to their first playoff appearance in six years.
Evgeni Malkin made an immediate impact, driving the Penguins to their first playoff appearance in six years.

Change came for the Penguins on October 18, 2006, when rookie Evgeni Malkin made his NHL debut. He went on to set the modern NHL record with a goal in each of his first six games. Malkin would go on to record points in 16 consecutive games with 14 wins and 2 overtime losses in early 2007.[29] The Penguins finished the 2006–07 season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 47–24–11, totaling 105 points, only two points behind the Atlantic Division winners, the New Jersey Devils. It was the franchise's first 100-point season in 11 years and represented an enormous 47-point leap from the previous season. In the first round of the 2007 playoffs, the Penguins were defeated 4–1 by the eventual Stanley Cup runners-up, the Ottawa Senators. At the season's end, rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the Rookie of the Year, which Malkin won.

On March 13, 2007, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins ownership group publicly announced that an agreement had been reached among the parties to build the long sought arena. The state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility, the Consol Energy Center, guaranteed that the Penguins would remain in the city of Pittsburgh. Following the announcement of the plan, the Lemieux ownership group announced that they no longer had plans to sell the team. On June 8, 2007, a $325 million bond was issued and the Penguins signed a 30-year lease, binding the Penguins to the city of Pittsburgh through 2040; the lease agreement was signed on September 19.[30]

After a mediocre start to the 2007–08 season, Crosby and starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were both injured long-term due to high right ankle sprains. In their absence, the Penguins flourished due to the play and leadership of center Evgeni Malkin and backup goaltender Ty Conklin. On February 26, the Penguins would acquire the Atlanta Thrashers' star right winger Marian Hossa and forward Pascal Dupuis at the NHL trade deadline, trading away Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first-round pick in 2008. On April 2, 2008, the Penguins clinched the Atlantic Division title—their first division title in 10 years—with a 4–2 win against rivals the Philadelphia Flyers. However, they closed the season with a loss to the Flyers on the next night, relegating them to the second seed in the East behind the Montreal Canadiens. The Pens had spent most of the second half going back-and-forth with the Habs for first place in the East. Evgeni Malkin finished the season with 106 points for second place in the league, behind only Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, and also finished as a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Crosby, Bill Guerin, and Chris Kunitz during the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals, earning their third Stanley Cup title.
Crosby, Bill Guerin, and Chris Kunitz during the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals, earning their third Stanley Cup title.

The team launched into their first extended playoff run in many years, beating Ottawa 4–0, defeating the New York Rangers 4–1 and then defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4–1 to clinch the Prince of Wales Trophy. Pittsburgh went on to lose the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals to the Detroit Red Wings in six games, finishing the playoffs with a 14–6 record. Crosby finished the playoffs with 27 points (6 goals and 21 assists in 20 games), tying Conn Smythe Trophy-winner Henrik Zetterberg (13 goals and 14 assists in 22 games) for the playoff scoring lead.

In the 2008–09 season, Malkin won the Art Ross and was a candidate for the Hart Memorial Trophy for MVP. Crosby finished third in League scoring with 33 goals and 70 assists for 103 points, despite missing five games. The Penguins' record dipped mid-season but lifted after head coach Therrien was replaced by Dan Bylsma and defenseman Sergei Gonchar returned from injury. The effect was almost instantaneous and the Penguins recovered enough to secure home-ice advantage in their first-round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, whom the Penguins defeated in six games. The next series, against Washington, took all seven games for the Penguins to win, sending them to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes in a four-game sweep. After defeating the Hurricanes, the Penguins earned their second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, to whom they had lost the previous year. After losing Games 1 and 2 in Detroit, just like the previous years, the Penguins won Games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh. Each team won on home ice in Games 5 and 6. In Game 7 in Detroit, Maxime Talbot scored two goals, including the game-winner, as the Penguins won 2–1 to win their third Stanley Cup title.[31] Malkin was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.[10]

Contenders and new arena (2009–2015)

Outside of Consol Energy Center (now PPG Paints Arena) in March 2010 before it officially opened.
Outside of Consol Energy Center (now PPG Paints Arena) in March 2010 before it officially opened.

The Penguins opened the 2009–10 season against the New York Rangers. It was the last home opener at the Mellon Arena and it was also the night the team raised the Stanley Cup championship banner to the arena's rafters.[32] For the second-straight year, the Penguins finished the season in second place, behind New Jersey. Crosby scored 109 points (51 goals and 58 assists) in 81 games, winning the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL season's leading goalscorer. The Penguins, seeded fourth in the East, began their title defense defeating the Ottawa Senators in six games. In the next round, the Penguins faced the Montreal Canadiens. The teams would swap wins in the series en route to the decisive Game 7, which the Penguins lost 5–2, ending their season and their tenure at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field during the 2011 NHL Winter Classic.

In 2010–11, the Penguins played their first game in the Consol Energy Center, a loss to their rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. On February 11, 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins–New York Islanders brawl took place.[33] The season was marred by a season-ending concussion and knee injury to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, respectively. The Penguins made an early exit in the playoffs, losing the series after taking a 3–1 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury called into question.[34] With Sidney Crosby still sidelined with post-concussion syndrome, at the start of the 2011–12 season, Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins' top line and dominated league scoring. He finished with 50 goals and 109 points as the Penguins earned 51 wins on the season. With Malkin's Art Ross-winning performance and Crosby's late-season return from injury, the Penguins headed into the 2012 playoffs with high hopes of making a significant Stanley Cup run. However, the highly favored Penguins were defeated in six games by their cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.[35] Malkin was later awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lester B. Pearson award. Following the Penguins' disappointing playoff exit, general manager Ray Shero made sweeping changes to the team at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft for the upcoming 2012–13 season.[36][37]

During the lockout-shortened 2012–13 season, the Penguins again fought through serious injury. At the end of the regular season, the Penguins finished atop the Eastern Conference, matching-up against the eighth-seeded New York Islanders in round one. The Penguins defeated the Islanders in six games, with Marc-Andre Fleury struggling once again and being replaced by Tomas Vokoun after Game 4. The Penguins then dispatched the Ottawa Senators in five games before being swept in the Conference Finals by the Boston Bruins, scoring just two goals in the entire four-game sweep. On June 13, 2013, Malkin signed an eight-year contract extension worth an annual average of $9.5 million. This extension, along with Crosby's 12-year extension previously signed in the 2012 off-season, ensured that the duo would remain the core of the Penguins for the foreseeable future.

On July 1, 2015, the Penguins acquired right winger Phil Kessel in a multi-player deal.
On July 1, 2015, the Penguins acquired right winger Phil Kessel in a multi-player deal.

In the 2013–14 season, the Penguins again suffered through numerous injuries throughout the campaign. Despite the adversity, the Penguins won the realigned, eight-team Metropolitan Division, though Pittsburgh struggled in the playoffs, requiring six games to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets, then losing to the New York Rangers in seven games despite leading the series 3–1 after four games. The team's series collapse prompted Penguins ownership to fire general manager Shero, replacing him on June 6 with Jim Rutherford, the former general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.[38] Rutherford's first action as general manager was to fire head coach Dan Bylsma, and on June 25, he announced that Mike Johnston was hired as Bylsma's replacement. In the 2014–15 season, the Penguins led the Metropolitan Division for the first half of the season. However, after losing players to injuries and illnesses, including the mumps, the team fell to fourth in the Division. The Pens would lose in five games to the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. In the off-season, Rutherford traded a number of players and picks to acquire Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen.[39][40]

Back-to-back Stanley Cup titles and 50th anniversary (2015–2017)

After acquiring the star winger Kessel, the Penguins had high expectations for the 2015–16 season. But on December 12, 2015, the team had a record of 15–10–3. The organization then fired head coach Mike Johnston and replaced him with Mike Sullivan, head coach of the organization's AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.[41] This move was followed by a series of trades by Jim Rutherford.[42][43]

Crosby with the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' victory parade. The team won their fourth Stanley Cup championship in 2016.
Crosby with the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' victory parade. The team won their fourth Stanley Cup championship in 2016.

The Penguins qualified for the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season. They earned second place in the Metropolitan Division with 104 points. In the playoffs, the Penguins defeated the Rangers in a 4–1 series, the Capitals 4–2 and the Lightning 4–3 to win the Eastern Conference Championship, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals against the San Jose Sharks.[44] On June 12, 2016, the Penguins defeated the Sharks in a 4–2 series to win their fourth Stanley Cup title. Captain Sidney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.[45]

The Penguins opened their 50th anniversary season in the NHL as defending Stanley Cup champions, raising their commemorative banner on October 13, 2016, in a shootout victory over Washington.[46] The Penguins faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2017 playoffs, defeating them in five games. In the second round, they played against their divisional rival, Washington, and faced them for the second-straight year in the same round where the Penguins won after a hard-fought seven-game series. In the Conference Finals, the Penguins eliminated the Ottawa Senators in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they faced the Nashville Predators. The Penguins won the first two games of the Finals and then lost the next two matchups before dominating the fifth and the sixth games of the series to win the Stanley Cup for the second straight year. By defending their title, the Penguins became the first team since the 1997–98 Detroit Red Wings to successfully defend their title, and the first to do so in the salary cap era.[5]

Patric Hornqvist celebrates the 2017 Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the Nashville Predators.
Patric Hornqvist celebrates the 2017 Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the Nashville Predators.

After Cup titles (2017–present)

Before the 2017–18 season, the Penguins lost longtime goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Nevertheless, the Penguins once again qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs with the second division playoff spot, finishing the regular season with 100 points. They defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round in six games, but were defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in six games. In the next season, the Penguins clinched third place in the Metropolitan Division, reaching the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year. However, they were swept by the New York Islanders in the First Round. In the following season which was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Penguins advanced to the 2020 playoffs, but were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens in the Qualifying Round.[47] On February 9, 2021, the Penguins named Ron Hextall as their new general manager, after Jim Rutherford resigned from his post on January 27, 2021, due to personal reasons. Brian Burke was hired as president of hockey operations.[48][49] On February 21, 2021, Crosby became the first player to reach 1,000 NHL games for the Pens.[50]

Team culture

Fanbase

Iceburgh, the mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Iceburgh, the mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Despite Pittsburgh's long history with hockey and having a small, but loyal fanbase early on, the Penguins struggled with fan support early on in its history, at times only averaging 6,000 fans per game when Civic Arena had a seating capacity over 16,000. Fan support was so low by the team's first bankruptcy that the NHL had no problems with the team being moved, something that would change decades later when the team faced another relocation threat.

While the drafting of Mario Lemieux began piquing interest in hockey locally, fan support was still skeptical. John Steigerwald, brother of former Penguins broadcaster Paul Steigerwald,[51] once noted in his autobiography that upon his arrival at KDKA-TV from WTAE-TV in 1985 that the station cared more about the Pittsburgh Spirit of the Major Indoor Soccer League than the Penguins.[52] However, Lemieux's play steadily grew the fanbase in the area, which would only be reassured upon the arrival of Sidney Crosby after the team struggled both on the ice and in attendance following the Jaromir Jagr trade.

Today, the Penguins are one of the NHL's most popular teams, especially among American non-Original Six franchises and are considered second behind the Steelers among Pittsburgh's three major professional sports teams, taking advantage of both its success and the Pittsburgh Pirates struggles both on and off the field.[53] Especially notable was a 2007 survey done of the four major sports leagues 122 teams, in which the Penguins surprised observers by being ranked 20th overall and third among NHL teams, while the Steelers were ranked number one and the Pirates (before the arrival of Andrew McCutchen and that team's turnaround)[54] ranking much lower on the list from its peers. The Penguins popularity has at times even rivaled that of the Steelers at the local level.[55]

Rivalries

Philadelphia Flyers

Considered by some to be the best rivalry in the NHL,[56][57][58] the Philadelphia Flyers–Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry began in 1967 when the teams were introduced into the NHL's "Next Six" expansion wave. The rivalry exists both due to divisional alignment and geographic location, as both teams play in Pennsylvania. The Flyers lead the head-to-head record with a 153–98-30 record.[59] However, the Penguins eliminated the Flyers from the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and were eliminated from the playoffs in 2012 by the Flyers, strengthening the rivalry.[60] In total, the franchises have met seven times in the playoffs, with the Flyers winning four series (1989 Patrick Division Finals, 4–3; 1997 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals, 4–1; 2000 Eastern Conference Semi-finals, 4–2; and 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals, 4–2) and the Penguins winning three (2008 Eastern Conference Finals, 4–1; 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 4–2; and 2018 Eastern Conference First Round, 4–2).

Washington Capitals

An altercation between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals during the 2009 playoffs.
An altercation between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals during the 2009 playoffs.

The two teams have faced-off 11 times in the playoffs, with the Penguins winning nine of the 11 matchups, their two series losses coming in the 1994 and 2018 playoffs. The Penguins defeated the Capitals en route to all five of their Stanley Cup victories. They have met in a decisive game 7 in the 1992, 1995, 2009 and 2017 playoffs. This rivalry was showcased at the NHL's fourth Winter Classic, played on January 1, 2011, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Capitals won the game 3–1. The rivalry can also be seen in the American Hockey League (AHL). Pittsburgh's top farm team is the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and their in-state and biggest rivals are the Capitals' top farm team, the Hershey Bears.[61][62][63]

Team information

Crest and sweater design

When the Penguins made their NHL debut in 1967, the team wore the colors dark blue, light blue and white. The uniforms had the word "Pittsburgh" written diagonally down the front of the sweater with three dark blue stripes around the sleeves and bottom. The logo featured a hockey-playing penguin in a scarf over an inverted triangle, symbolizing the Golden Triangle of downtown Pittsburgh. A refined version of the logo appeared on a redesigned uniform in the second season, which removed the scarf and gave the penguin a sleeker look. The circle encompassing the logo was later removed.[64] The team's colors were originally powder blue, navy blue, and white. The powder blue was changed to royal blue in 1973, but returned in 1977. The team adopted the current black and gold color scheme in 1980 to unify the colors of the city's professional sports teams, although like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, the shade of gold more closely resembled yellow. The change was not without controversy, as the Boston Bruins protested by claiming to own the rights to the black and gold colors. However the Penguins cited the colors worn by the now-defunct NHL team Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1920s, as well as black and gold being the official colors of the City of Pittsburgh and its namesake, thus were able to secure permission to use the black and gold colors. The NHL's Pittsburgh Pirates used old Pittsburgh Police uniforms,[65] hence beginning the black and gold sports tradition in the city.[64]

This would remain unchanged until the 1992–93 season, when the team unveiled new uniforms and a new logo. The logo featured a modern-looking, streamlined penguin.[66] Although the "Robo-Penguin" logo survived in various forms for 15 years, it received mixed responses from fans and was never as accepted as the "skating penguin" logo. When Mario Lemieux purchased the team, he added back the "skating penguin" logo.[67] After winning their second Stanley Cup in 1992, the team redesigned their uniforms and introduced the "flying penguin" logo. The team's away uniforms were a throwback to the team's first season, as they revived the diagonal "Pittsburgh" script. In 1995, the team introduced their second alternate jersey, featuring different stripe designs on each sleeve. This jersey would prove to be so popular that the team adopted it as their away jersey in 1997. When the new jerseys were unveiled for the 2007–08 season leaguewide, the Penguins made major striping pattern changes and removed the "flying penguin" logo from the shoulders. They also added a "Pittsburgh 250" gold circular patch to the shoulders to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the city of Pittsburgh.[64]

Throughout the 2016–17 season, a commemorative patch was added to the uniforms to celebrate the team's 50th anniversary.
Throughout the 2016–17 season, a commemorative patch was added to the uniforms to celebrate the team's 50th anniversary.

While the Penguins have worn their black jersey at home since the league made the initiative to do so starting with the 2003–04 NHL season, the team wore their white jerseys in some home games during the 2007–08 season, as well as wearing their powder blue, 1968–1972 "throwbacks" against the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic. This throwback was supposedly retired with the introduction of a new dark blue third jersey that made its debut at the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field,[68] but it was worn at several games after the 2011 Winter Classic. For the 2011–12 season, the 2011 Winter Classic jersey was the team's official third uniform, with the 2008 Winter Classic uniform being retired.[69] Called the "Blue Jerseys of Doom" by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the alternate jerseys were worn when Sidney Crosby sustained a broken jaw injury and when he received a concussion in the 2011 Winter Classic. Evgeni Malkin was also concussed during a game when the Penguins donned the alternate uniforms.[64][70][71]

In 2014, the Penguins released their new alternate uniforms. The new black uniforms are throwbacks to the early part of Lemieux's playing career, emulating the uniforms worn by the Penguins' 1991 and 1992 Cup-winning teams. The new alternate uniform featured "Pittsburgh gold", the particular shade of gold which had been retired when the Penguins switched to the metallic gold full-time in 2002.[72] After the 2015–16 season, the team returned to using the "Pittsburgh gold" jerseys as the primary uniforms. The new home and away "Pittsburgh gold" jerseys were unveiled in 2016 and first presented at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. A commemorative patch was added to the uniforms throughout the 2016–17 season to celebrate the team's 50th anniversary.[73] During the 2017 NHL Stadium Series against the archrival Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins wore a special gold uniform featuring military-inspired lettering, a "City of Champions" patch and a variation of the "skating penguin" logo.[74]

Media

Radio

The Penguins currently have their radio home on WXDX-FM and their television home on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Penguins Radio Network consists of a total of 34 stations in four states.[75] Twenty three of these are in Pennsylvania, four in West Virginia, three in Ohio, and three in Maryland. The network also features an FM High-Definition station in Pittsburgh.

Broadcasters

The Penguins were broadcast by local ABC affiliate WTAE-TV during the 1967–68 season, with station Sports Director Ed Conway handling the play-by-play during both the television and radio broadcasts and would remain as the lone play-by-play broadcaster until the completion of the 1968–69 season. Joe Tucker took over for Ed Conway during the 1969–70 season, when WPGH-TV and WTAE-TV split Penguins' broadcasts. WPGH-TV retained the rights to broadcast the Penguins for the 1970–71 season with Bill Hamilton handing the play-by-play duties. The 1970–71 season was also the first season where the Penguins introduced a color commentator to the broadcast team, with John MacDonald taking the position as the booth's color commentator.[76][77]

Mike Lange has been the Penguins' announcer since 1974.
Mike Lange has been the Penguins' announcer since 1974.

Mike Lange, who joined the Penguins' broadcast team as a play-by-play announcer on the radio side in 1974–75, became the play-by-play broadcaster for the team at the start of the 1979–80 season. At his side was Terry Schiffauer, who had previously held the position of Penguins' director of public relations and eventually transitioned into color commentator for Sam Nover since 1972–73. Lange and Schiffauer remained a team in the Penguins' broadcast booth until 1984–85, when Schiffauer was replaced by Paul Steigerwald. Lange and Steigerwald remained a constant in the broadcast booth from 1985 until 1999.

With Steigerwald's departure in 1999, Mike Lange shared the broadcast booth with former Penguins' defenseman Peter Taglianetti. Taglianetti remained in the position for one season before being replaced by Eddie Olczyk. Lange and Olczyk were broadcast partners from 2000 until 2003, when Olczyk left the booth to become the 18th head coach in Penguins history that had become upon due to the firing of previous Head Coach Rick Kehoe after the 2002–03 season.[78] With Olczyk's vacancy, the Penguins hired Bob Errey as their new color commentator for the start of the 2003–04 season. Lange and Errey remained in the booth until 2005–06. After 26 seasons in the television broadcast booth, Mike Lange was not retained by FSN Pittsburgh. Instead, he was replaced by former broadcast partner Paul Steigerwald, who remained the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the team until the 2016–17 season. Lange returned to the radio broadcast booth and currently holds the position of radio play-by-play announcer, the same position he had held with the team in the mid-1970s. Following the 2016–17 season, Steigerwald moved back to the Penguins front office and NHL Network personality Steve Mears was hired as the new television play-by-play announcer starting with the 2017–18 season.

Every Penguins game is currently carried on the AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh network, which is carried by cable providers in most of two states and parts of four others. In addition, Fox Sports Ohio simulcasts Penguins hockey in the Cleveland metro area, as well as some parts of Eastern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Dish Network, Verizon FiOS and Direct TV all carry the Penguins games on their AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh channel in HD nationally. The Pittsburgh Penguins also receive monthly and sometimes weekly "game of the week" national exposure on both NBC Sports Network and NBC along with TSN and CBC Sports in Canada. Prior to 2004, Penguins games have been aired on ESPN and ESPN2.

Arenas

The Penguins called Civic Arena home for over 45 seasons, beginning with their inception in 1967. In September 2010, they completed the move to the state-of-the-art Consol Energy Center (now named PPG Paints Arena). The Penguins also played two "home" games in the Cleveland suburb of Richfield, Ohio, in 1992 and 1993 at the Richfield Coliseum (this is not unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA playing an annual pre-season game in Pittsburgh;[79] the Philadelphia 76ers also used the Civic Arena as a second home in the early 1970s).[80]

The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex under construction in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania in April 2015. The complex opened in August 2015, and is used by the Penguins as their practice facility.
The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex under construction in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania in April 2015. The complex opened in August 2015, and is used by the Penguins as their practice facility.

From 1995 to 2015 the IceoPlex at Southpointe in the South Hills suburbs served as the team's practice facility. Robert Morris University's 84 Lumber Arena has at times served as a secondary practice facility for the team. During the franchise's first pre-season training camp and pre-season exhibition games, the Brantford Civic Centre in Brantford, Ontario, served as its home,[81] and by the 1970s and continuing through the 1980s, the team was using the suburban Rostraver Ice Garden for training.

In August 2015, the Penguins and the UPMC opened UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, combining a new team practice and training facility with a UPMC Sports Medicine treatment and research complex, in suburban Cranberry Township near the interchange between Interstate 79 and Pennsylvania Route 228.[82] The twin rink facility replaced both the IceoPlex at Southpointe and the 84 Lumber Arena as the Penguins' regular practice facility, freeing up the Consol Energy Center for other events on days the Penguins are not scheduled to play.[83]

As with most other NHL arenas, the Penguins make use of a goal horn whenever the team scores a goal at home. It is also played just before the beginning of a home game, and after a Penguins victory. Their current goal horn, made by Nathan Manufacturing, Inc. and introduced in 2005 to coincide with the arrival of Sidney Crosby to the team, was used at both the Civic Arena and the Consol Energy Center.[84][85]

Minor league affiliates

The Penguins have two minor league affiliates assigned to their team. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, their AHL affiliate, have played in Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, since 1999. The Penguins also have a secondary affiliate in the ECHL, the Wheeling Nailers, which they have been associated with since the start of the 2000–01 season.[86]

Season-by-season record

Sidney Crosby with Marc-Andre Fleury (left) and the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' victory parade in 2009.
Sidney Crosby with Marc-Andre Fleury (left) and the Stanley Cup during the Penguins' victory parade in 2009.

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Penguins.

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L OTL Pts GF GA Finish Playoffs
2015–16 82 48 26 8 104 245 203 2nd, Metropolitan Stanley Cup champions, 4–2 (Sharks)
2016–17 82 50 21 11 111 282 234 2nd, Metropolitan Stanley Cup champions, 4–2 (Predators)
2017–18 82 47 29 6 100 272 250 2nd, Metropolitan Lost in Second Round, 2–4 (Capitals)
2018–19 82 44 26 12 100 273 241 3rd, Metropolitan Lost in First Round, 0–4 (Islanders)
2019–20 69 40 23 6 86 224 196 3rd, Metropolitan Lost in Qualifying Round, 1–3 (Canadiens)

Players and personnel

Current roster

Updated April 7, 2021[87][88]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace
57 United States Anthony Angello RW R 25 2014 Manlius, New York
12 United States Zach Aston-Reese C L 26 2017 Staten Island, New York
53 Latvia Teddy Blueger 
Injured Reserve
C L 26 2012 Riga, Latvia
4 Canada Cody Ceci D R 27 2020 Ottawa, Ontario
87 Canada Sidney Crosby (C) C L 33 2005 Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
1 United States Casey DeSmith G L 29 2017 Rochester, New Hampshire
8 United States Brian Dumoulin D L 29 2012 Biddeford, Maine
52 Canada Mark Friedman 
Injured Reserve
D R 25 2021 Toronto, Ontario
11 Canada Frederick Gaudreau C R 27 2020 Bromont, Quebec
59 United States Jake Guentzel LW L 26 2013 Omaha, Nebraska
14 Canada Mark Jankowski C L 26 2020 Hamilton, Ontario
35 Canada Tristan Jarry G L 25 2013 Surrey, British Columbia
42 Finland Kasperi Kapanen 
Injured Reserve
RW R 24 2020 Kuopio, Finland
18 United States Sam Lafferty C R 26 2014 Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
60 Finland Emil Larmi G L 24 2019 Lahti, Finland
58 Canada Kris Letang (A) D R 33 2005 Montreal, Quebec
71 Russia Evgeni Malkin (A
Injured Reserve
C L 34 2004 Magnitogorsk, Soviet Union
6 United States John Marino D R 23 2019 North Easton, Massachusetts
5 Canada Mike Matheson D L 27 2020 Pointe-Claire, Quebec
19 Canada Jared McCann C L 24 2019 Stratford, Ontario
10 United States Drew O'Connor LW L 22 2020 Chatham, New Jersey
28 Sweden Marcus Pettersson D L 24 2018 Skellefteå, Sweden
50 Finland Juuso Riikola D L 27 2018 Joensuu, Finland
9 Canada Evan Rodrigues RW R 27 2020 Etobicoke, Ontario
2 United States Chad Ruhwedel D R 30 2016 San Diego, California
17 United States Bryan Rust RW R 28 2010 Pontiac, Michigan
7 Canada Colton Sceviour C R 31 2020 Red Deer, Alberta
13 Canada Brandon Tanev 
Injured Reserve
LW L 29 2019 Toronto, Ontario
3 Switzerland Yannick Weber D R 32 2021 Morges, Switzerland
67 Czech Republic Radim Zohorna C L 24 2020 Havlíčkův Brod, Czech Republic
16 United States Jason Zucker LW L 29 2020 Newport Beach, California


Honored members

Retired numbers

The banners of numbers retired by the Penguins franchise hang in the rafters of the PPG Paints Arena.
The banners of numbers retired by the Penguins franchise hang in the rafters of the PPG Paints Arena.
Pittsburgh Penguins retired numbers
No. Player Position Career No. retirement
21[89] Michel Briere C 1969–1970 January 5, 2001[A]
66[90] Mario Lemieux C 19841997
20002006
November 19, 1997[B]
Notes
  • A Taken out of circulation following Briere's death (1971), but not officially retired until January 5, 2001.
  • B Lemieux's number was restored when he resumed playing for the team on December 27, 2000, and once again retired on October 5, 2006.
  • Though not retired, no. 68 has not been issued since Jaromir Jagr was traded in 2001 and Lemieux himself confirmed that the number would be retired by the franchise in the future.[91]
  • The NHL retired Wayne Gretzky's No. 99 for all its member teams at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.[92]

Hockey Hall of Fame

The Pittsburgh Penguins presently acknowledge an affiliation with a number of inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees affiliated with the Penguins include 14 former players and five builders of the sport.[a][93] The four individuals recognized as builders by the Hockey Hall of Fame includes former head coaches, and general managers.

In addition to builders and players, broadcasters and sports journalists have also been recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2001, radio play-by-play broadcaster Mike Lange, was awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hall of Fame.[94] In 2009, Dave Molinari, a sports journalist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was awarded the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award from the Hall of Fame.[95]

Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Hall of Fame inductees
Affiliation with inductees based on team acknowledgement
Hall of Fame players[93]
Andy Bathgate
Leo Boivin
Paul Coffey
Ron Francis
Tim Horton
Marian Hossa
Jarome Iginla
Mario Lemieux
Joe Mullen
Larry Murphy
Mark Recchi
Luc Robitaille
Bryan Trottier
Sergei Zubov
Hall of Fame builders[93]
Scotty Bowman Herb Brooks Bob Johnson Craig Patrick Jim Rutherford

Team captains

The team's current captain, Sidney Crosby, during a playoff game in 2016.
The team's current captain, Sidney Crosby, during a playoff game in 2016.

All the players who have served as team captain with the Penguins franchise

Franchise individual records

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history.[97] Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

  •  *  – current Penguins player
Kris Letang holds the franchise's all-time points record for a defensemen.
Kris Letang holds the franchise's all-time points record for a defensemen.
Points
Player Seasons Pos GP G A Pts +/− PIM
Mario Lemieux 1984–1997
2000–2006
C 915 690 1,033 1,723 115 834
Sidney Crosby* 2005–present C 984 462 801 1,263 175 673
Jaromir Jagr 1990–2001 RW 806 439 640 1,079 207 593
Evgeni Malkin* 2006–present C 907 416 660 1,076 73 960
Rick Kehoe 1974–1985 RW 722 312 324 636 −86 88
Ron Francis 1990–1998 C 533 164 449 613 70 295
Jean Pronovost 1968–1978 RW 753 316 287 603 32 306
Kevin Stevens 1987–1995
2000–2002
LW 522 260 295 555 −40 1,048
Kris Letang* 2007–present D 808 127 410 537 61 580
Syl Apps Jr. 1970–1978 C 495 151 349 500 94 241

Franchise goaltending leaders

These are the top-ten goaltenders in franchise history by wins.[98] Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

  •  *  – current Penguins player
Goaltenders
Player Seasons GP W L T OT GAA SV% SO
Marc-Andre Fleury 2003–2017 691 375 216 2 66 2.58 .912 44
Tom Barrasso 1988–2000 460 226 153 53 8 3.27 .896 22
Matt Murray 2014–2020 199 117 53 0 19 2.67 .914 11
Ken Wregget 1991–1998 212 104 67 21 4 3.29 .898 6
Denis Herron 1972–1974
1976-1979
1982-1986
290 88 133 44 3.88 .879 6
Jean-Sebastien Aubin 1998–2004 168 63 72 11 10 2.92 .900 6
Les Binkley 1967–1972 196 58 94 34 3.12 .900 11
Gregory Millen 1978–1981 135 57 56 18 3.83 .874 4
Johan Hedberg 2000–2003 116 46 57 12 6 2.88 .901 7
Roberto Romano 1982–1987
1993–1994
125 46 62 8 0 3.96 .863 4

Front office and coaching staff

Executive Committee
Hockey Operations
  • President of Hockey Operations - Brian Burke
  • General Manager – Ron Hextall
  • Assistant General Manager – Patrik Allvin
  • Director of Hockey Operations and Hockey Research – Sam Ventura
  • Hockey Operations Assistant – Erik Heasley
  • Hockey Operations Advisor - Trevor Daley
  • Head Coach – Mike Sullivan
  • Assistant Coach – Todd Reirden
  • Assistant Coach – Mike Vellucci
  • Goaltending Coach – Mike Buckley
  • Director of Player Development – Scott Young
  • Player Development Coach – Tom Kostopoulos
  • Player Development – Matt Cullen
  • Goaltending Development Coach – Andy Chiodo
  • Strength & Conditioning – Alex Trinca, Alexi Pianosi
  • Video Coordinator – Andy Saucier
  • Manager of Team Operations – Jim Britt
Scouting
  • Director of Player Personnel – Derek Clancey
  • Professional Scout – Craig Patrick
  • Director of Professional Scouting – Ryan Bowness

In the community

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation conducts numerous community activities to support both youth and families through hockey education and charity assistance.

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Penguins also recognizes an affiliation with Hall of Famer Red Kelly, who served as the Penguins' head coach from 1969–73. However, he was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in the players' category in 1969, not its builder category; and had never played for the Penguins. However, the team continues to acknowledge an affiliation as a Penguins Hall of Famer.[93]

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Further reading

  • Buker, Rick (2010). Total Penguins: the definitive encyclopedia of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago, Ill: Triumph Books. ISBN 9781600783975.

External links

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