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Friday, October 16, 2015

Penguins in Wrong Jerseys

I was at my son's hockey practice and I was talking to this guy who said, "It's going to be so strange to think of Iginla in a Pens uniform in a bunch of years from now."

As a +Pittsburgh Penguins fan I probably won't forget anyone who wore the Black and Gold let alone Iginla. Then I thought there are millions of fans outside of my little bubble who don't micro-analyze everything the Pens have done since 1967. 

Jarome Iginla is someone who played ~1400 games and only 12 with the Pens. It must be so jarring to a Flames fan to see him in that sweater. I figured there had to be other examples of this. So from looking with another team's glasses on I tried to find who would be the strangest player in a Penguin jersey to people outside of Pittsburgh. 

Marian Hossa

Career Games Played* - 1172
Career Points* - 1056

% Played with the Pens - 1.0%
Points with Pens - 7
% Points with Pens - 0.7%

"Right" Team - Chicago Blackhawks
% Played with Blackhawks - 33.9%
% Points with Blackhawks - 31.9%
Cups: 3 (Blackhawks)

(*still active)

The memory of Hossa to the Penguins is burned into our minds. The zero-hour style transaction, the impact and meaning it had on the team looking to make the playoffs in a handful of years, ingrained Hossa on the minds of Pens fans. The subsequent "betrayal" the year later further cemented his impact on Pittsburgh lore.  Say what you want about Hossa, but he undeniably became a legend in the NHL as one of the best two-way forwards in the league and winning a Stanley Cup. Hossa wearing a Pens sweater may seem normal to us but insane to anyone else. 

Jarome Iginla

Career Games Played* - 1392
Career Points* - 1226

% Played with the Pens - 0.9%
Points with Pens - 11
% Points with Pens - 0.9%

"Right" Team - Calgary Flames
%Played with Flames - 87.6%
% Points with Flames -  72.7%

Cups: 0

(*still active)

Ignila is one of my favorite players, hands down. The (literal) midnight robbery of the Bruins and Flames to bring him here was one of THE most insane moments on social media I've ever seen. The transaction to bring him to the 412 finalized around 1 am after being reported to have gone to the Bruins minutes before. Everything Iginla touched turned to gold in the 'Burgh and the fans, media, and teammates loved him. After a disappointing loss in the ECF to the Bruins, Iginla left as quickly as he arrived leaving a small but potent legacy with the Pens. The long-time heart and soul of the Flames has now moved to the young Avalanche but playing over a decade with the Flames his time with the Pens will be just a footnote in history.

Luc Robitaille

Career Games Played - 1431
Career Points - 1394

% Played with the Pens - 3.2%
Points with Pens - 42
% Points with Pens - 3.0%

"Right" Team - Los Angeles Kings
% Played with Kings - 82.8%
% Points with Kings - 75.3%

Cups:  3 (2 Kings/1 Red Wings)

You mention Luc Robitaille in Pittsburgh and people think "We're going to fuck them up!" his line from Sudden Death. You mention Luc Robitaille to anyone else and most of them will think of him as the legendary Kings left-winger who's number hangs in the Staple's Center rafters. Luc came to the Penguins as an exchange for Rick Tocchet (and a 2nd round pick) and he had one spectacular season with the high powered Penguins. Seeing him in the awesome PITTSBURGH diagonals might be natural for us but unnatural for anything not black and silver.

Gary Roberts

Career Games Played - 1224
Career Points - 910

% Played with the Pens - 4.7%
Points with Pens - 28
% Points with Pens - 3.1%

"Right" Team - Calgary Flames
% Played with Flames - 47.9%
% Points with Flames - 55.5%

Cups:  1 (Flames)

Gary Roberts came from a floundering Panther's team for a young Pens defenseman named Noah Welch. Roberts signed a two-year deal with the Panthers to play in the nice weather with his BFF Joe Nieuwendyk. Roberts immediately entwined himself in Pittsburgh lore the second he stepped on the ice. His intensity and fierceness made him a local hero. After his retirement Roberts began training players and attending Penguins alumni events. He became a Pittsburgh-er after only playing a few dozen games with the team. Now he runs a program in the new Cranberry UPMC complex for the Penguins as the city has adopted him as our own.

John LeClair
Career Games Played - 967
Career Points - 819

% Played with the Pens - 5.4%
Points with Pens - 58
% Points with Pens - 7.1%

"Right" Team - Philadelphia Flyers
% Played with Flyers - 67.1%
% Points with Flyers - 78.5%
Cups:  1 (Canadiens)

Some people remember him as the guy who accidentally hurt Malkin before his debut. Some people will remember him as one of the players that came in when Penguins management wanted to win. John wasn't the player that he was on the lethal Legion of Doom line on the Flyers but he was a step in the right direction when the Penguins had Crosby and Malkin in their holster and it was time to spend money to support them. His time was short with the Penguins but seeing him in the rival Black and Gold must still give Flyers fans diarrhea.

Marcus Naslund

Career Games Played - 1117
Career Points - 869

% Played with the Pens - 13.5%
Points with Pens - 67
% Points with Pens - 7.7%

"Right" Team - Vancouver Canucks

%Played with Canucks - 86.5%
% Points with Canucks - 87.0%

Cups: 0

Part of one of the worst trades in Penguins history, Naslund just couldn't get it together while wearing the corporate pigeon. This is probably one of the most exemplary "change of scenery" trades I can think of. Drafted by the Penguins in 1991 and, after a nasty legal battle with the NHL, Naslund made his Penguins debut in 1993. After being dubbed "Mr. September" by the always rational Pittsburgh media, Naslund was shipped out of town after 2 seasons for a ham-fisted Alec Stojanov of the Canucks. The rest is (Vancouver) history. 5 All-Star games, a Hart Trophy, and the Canucks longest tenured captain make him awfully forgettable in the black and gold sweater.

Sergei Zubov

Career Games Played - 1068
Career Points - 771

% Played with the Pens - 6.0%
Points with Pens - 66
% Points with Pens - 8.6%

"Right" Team - Dallas Stars

%Played with Stars - 78.6%
% Points with Stars - 71.2%

Cups: 2 (Stars/Rangers)

Any Pittsburgh-er will liken Zubov's name to the birth of the frustrated "Shoooooooooooot!" mantra on the Power Play. Coming from a fresh Stanley Cup victory with the Rangers in 1994, Zubov came to the Pens as a power play specialist to patch the hole left by Larry Murphy going to the Leafs. His well publicized rift with Mario Lemieux made his time with the Penguins short. After leaving the Pens he spent 12 season with the Dallas Stars and won a Stanley Cup with that squad in 1999.

Andy Bathgate

Career Games Played - 1069
Career Points - 973

% Played with the Pens - 14.0%
Points with Pens - 103
% Points with Pens - 10.6%

"Right" Team - New York Rangers

%Played with Rangers - 63.7%
% Points with Rangers - 74.4%

Cups: 1 (Rangers) 

The Ranger's legend Bathgate played for the Penguins after being chosen in the expansion draft in 1967. At one point in his career he was competing with Bobby Hull for scoring titles and he left a forgettable 59 point season with the new-born Penguins team. He left for the WHL Canucks after that winning two championships there. Being a 4-time All- Star, Stanley Cup Champion, and having his number soaking up the florescence at MSG made his time with the Penguins a bus-stop.

Bryan Trottier

Career Games Played - 1279
Career Points - 1425

% Played with the Pens - 12.2%
Points with Pens - 72
% Points with Pens - 5.1%

"Right" Team - New York Islanders

% Played with Islanders - 87.8%
% Points with Islanders - 94.9%

Cups: 6 (4 Islanders/ 2 Penguins)

Trots is another player who was adopted by Pittsburgh. Before coming to the Penguins, Trottier won 4 Cups, 8 All Star bids, a Ross, Hart, and Smythe trophy. He did it all, and he helped the Penguins win a Cup in 1992.  Trottier even help coach the Penguins in 1997, but his name will always be synonymous with the Islanders.

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