Penguins Win Third Pennant

This is Jean Pronovost as a Pittsburgh Penguin. When I was a kid the Penguins never won a damn thing but they had lots of interesting players like Syl Apps Jr, Lowell MacDonald, Rick Kehoe, Ron Stackhouse and Greg Polis. They might have won more if their goaltending had been better but the first 20 years of their history was a whole lot of “also-ran.”

There is very little doubt that their fortunes began to change on June 9, 1984. That was the day the Penguins drafted Mario Lemieux and even that didn’t go smoothly. Quoting Hockey Draft Central:

The sixth NHL Entry Draft was all about Mario Lemieux — major junior hockey’s 6-foot-4 superstar who was certainly head and shoulders above all other players in his draft class.In the months before the draft, it was clear that Lemieux would be the first overall pick.

At the end of the 1983-84 NHL regular season, the Pittsburgh Penguins gained the right to select Lemieux by finishing last overall in the league. Pittsburgh fans immediately began talking about the player they believed would turn their franchise into a winner. Although Lemieux would go on to make even the most skeptical Penguins fan’s wildest dreams come true, at the time of the 1984 draft, there were questions about his attitude and whether he would ever be willing to play in Pittsburgh. Attitude was a legitimate concern, because of Lemieux’s pattern of behavior. He had sat out the 1984 World Junior Championships because he didn’t like Team Canada head coach Dave King’s treatment of French-Canadian players.


He had also gone on the record in his hometown of Montreal saying that he did not want to play for the Montreal Canadiens because he felt it would be too much pressure. And in the days before the draft, Lemieux and agent Gus Badali had made it clear that they were not happy with the type of contract the Penguins were offering.

It all came to a head on draft day, when Lemieux’s name was called by Penguins general manager Eddie Johnston. Upset over the contract talks, Lemieux refused to put on a Penguins sweater, although he said he’d be happy to play for the team once he could sign an acceptable contract — which finally happened 10 days after the actual draft.

The photo of Mario is courtesy the Society for International Hockey Research and shows Mario in the uniform of the Laval Voisins. The Penguins won the Stanley in 1991 and 1992, the only other seasons they’ve won the pennant. I suspect they’ll win a few more in the next decade.

Here are the numbers with Pittsburgh updated (since 1967):

  1. Montreal (11): ’68, ’69, ’71, ’73, ’76-’79, ’86, ’89, ’93
  2. Boston (7): ’70, ’72, ’74, ’77, ’78, ’88, ’90
  3. Edmonton (7): ’83, ’84, ’85, ’87, ’88, ’90, ’06
  4. Philadephia (7): ’74, ’75, ’76, ’80, ’85, ’87, ’97
  5. New York Islanders (5): ’80, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’84
  6. Dallas (4): ’81, ’91, ’99, ’00
  7. Detroit (4): ’95, ’97, ’98, ’02
  8. New Jersey (4): ’95, ’00, ’01, ’03
  9. Calgary (3): ’86, ’89, ’04
  10. Chicago (3): ’71, ’73, ’92
  11. New York Rangers (3): ’72, ’79, ’94
  12. Pittsburgh (3): ’91, ’92, ’08
  13. St. Louis (3): ’68, ’69, ’70
  14. Anaheim (2): ’03, ’07
  15. Buffalo (2): ’75, ’99
  16. Carolina (2): ’02, ’06
  17. Colorado (2): ’96, ’01
  18. Vancouver (2): ’82, ’94
  19. Florida (1): ’96
  20. Los Angeles (1): ’93
  21. Ottawa (1): ’07
  22. Tampa Bay (1): ’04
  23. Washington (1): ’98
  24. Atlanta
  25. Columbus
  26. Minnesota
  27. Nashville
  28. Phoenix
  29. San Jose
  30. Toronto

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7 Responses to "Penguins Win Third Pennant"

  1. Ribs says:

    You know, I really hate these afternoon games. Especially when they can decide a series. Everyone moves so slow and the games are hard to watch almost every time.

    The Pens have been my second favourite team since Coffey joined the team and it’s good to see them going so far. I’d enjoy it a lot more if I didn’t know that they will lose a lot of the team next season though. It just doesn’t seem right.
    Mixed feelings over the ’06 Oil I suppose.

  2. Dennis says:

    The Pens should be able to spend to the cap as time goes by but they’ll lose at least some of their juice as soon as Staal goes somewhere else to see if he can make his bones as a scoring centre who gets to play with people other than Jarkko Ruutuu and Tyler Kennedy.

    The Pens are also gonna have to start drafting better, too, so that they can replace the Malone’s and/or Hossa’s.

    The cap will keep rising but Gonchar/Whitney/Crosby/Malkin/Fluery are gonna be eating up, what ~30 mill?

  3. andy grabia says:

    The photo of Mario is courtesy the Society for International Hockey Research and shows Mario in the uniform of the Laval Voisins.

    That uni is in the HHOF. Fenwick and I saw it when we were there. It looks like a Tetris piece on the front of a jersey. Very weird.

  4. PDO says:

    I hate the Pens.

    LOATHE the Pens.

    What a farce of a hockey city.

    They needed a top 5 player of all time to save them once, and while I certainly wouldn’t call Crosby a top 5 player of all time… yet, it looks like they needed it again.

    What joke of a hockey town needs something like that to get interested?

    And I haven’t even started on the freaking Steelers yet….

  5. knighttown says:

    Yeah PDO, I’m kinda with you except that I like the Pens because Crosby/Malkin/Hossa are three of my favs. But, as I’ve been saying for years, do NOT point to the Pittsburgh Penguins as a model franchise. I don’t feel I’m selling them short by saying I could have been the GM of this team and gotten the same results, in fact, I probably wouldn’t have taken Fleury at #1 in ’03. How about this for strength down the middle: Crosby, Malkin, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal.

  6. CrazyCoach says:

    Andy,

    That is a very weird logo indeed, but I have a limited edition card of Mario in that jersey that I hope contributes to my retirement fund.

    I have to say this years playoffs have been a joy to watch and I like the finals matchup. an NHL marketer’s wet dream.

  7. Dennis says:

    I love the colour scheme of those duds, I must say.

    Saw one of the Pens beaties talking the other day about how they’re going to be able to keep all of Crosby-Malkin and Staal and I just don’t see it.

    Unless Pit MGMT really starts plucking gems from the draft or they get two Skyora signings a year, ie I’ll go play on a great team and take less money as a result — this crew’s gonna peak in ’09.

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