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Monday, April 11, 2016

Who's YOUR Biggest Pens Villain?!

Whether players, coaches, management, broadcasters, or those in the league's front office, there are just certain people in the hockey universe that you find annoying, dirty, obnoxious, etc. As Penguins fans, we're sure a lot of our followers all dislike a lot of the same people. And with the NHL playoffs and March Madness just around the corner, what better way to figure out who the biggest villain is to Penguins fans than a single-elimination tourney where they decide!

Over the next few weeks, we'll be running a series of twitter polls pitting opponents, front office executives, media commentators, and others against each other head to head until there's only one left. Like March Madness, there will be 4 brackets named after the top seeds in each - the Bettman Bracket, the Milbury Bracket, the Dubinsky Bracket, and the Scuderi Bracket. If you don't already, make sure to sign up for twitter and follow @PensInitiative and the rest of the PI.

You've voted for a winner in each of the four brackets, and now those bracket winners will square off to determine who YOU name the Biggest Pens Villain. Brandon Dubinsky and Mike Milbury each won the bracket that bears their name, while it was Scott Hartnell moving on from the Bettman Bracket and Zac Rinaldo winning the Scuderi Bracket. Voting for the semifinals will continue throughout the week of April 4, 2016; cutting the field to two remaining candidates for the title.

The field of 56 has been shrunk to just 8 contenders left, and the final vote for each of the brackets will determine the bracket winner and who moves on to the Biggest Pens Villain semifinals. At this point, the cream has risen to the top, and any of the remaining 8 could theoretically go on to take home the title.

The Bettman Bracket - Voting starts on March 29, 2016. Gary Bettman was knocked out in the last round, but it'll be a couple players who have antagonized Pens fans over the years as Scott Hartnell takes on Marc Staal.

The Dubinsky Bracket - Voting starts on March 29, 2016. The top two seeds have beaten the competition so far, and it'll be Brandon Dubinsky vs Pierre McGuire in the final showdown of the bracket.

The Milbury Bracket - Voting starts on March 30, 2016. Like the Dubinsky Bracket, the Milbury Bracket features the top two seeds meeting in the finals, and the winner of the Mike Milbury vs Alexander Ovechkin matchup will move on to the tourney semifinals.

The Scuderi Bracket - Neither of the top seeds remain, but that doesn't mean it's not one of the most intriguing votes of the tournament. Current teammates Brad Marchand and Zac Rinaldo go head to head, and each has been an enormous goon during his time in the league - Marchand with Boston, and Rinaldo primarily with the Philadelphia Flyers before an offseason trade in 2015.

The Bracket Semifinals is set to open with a great slate of polls, as the 16 remaining contenders could all make a legitimate case to take down the title of Biggest Pens Villain. Gone are bye-earners Rob Scuderi and Mike Johnston, who ran into the hatred felt for Henrik Lundqvist and Zac Rinaldo, respectively. But if someone is going to advance further into their bracket, it's going to be because they've earned it.

The Bettman Bracket - Voting starts on March 22, 2016. The commissioner, Gary Bettman, faces off against noted pest Scott Hartnell at the top half of the bracket, while recent playoff nemeses Tuukka Rask and Marc Staal match-up for the second spot in the bracket finals.

The Dubinsky Bracket - Voting starts on March 22, 2016. Brandon Dubinsky easily advanced to the semifinals to face off against Flyers captain Claude Giroux. Adam Graves is the only one left who made his mark during the Lemieux era in the early 90s when his brutal slash broke Lemieux's hand, and he meets the annoying Pierre McGuire in the next round.

The Milbury Bracket - Voting starts on March 23, 2016. Mike Milbury had little difficulty moving on in the bracket that bears his name, and he'll face off against the loud-mouthed coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, while Bruins homer Jack Edwards and Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin go against each other in the other match-up in the bracket.

The Scuderi Bracket - Voting starts on March 23, 2016. Rob Scuderi and Mike Johnston fell in the previous round, but the bracket is still packed with worthy options. Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Marchand will battle each other for a place in the bracket finals, while David Morehouse against Zac Rinaldo promises to be an equally difficult match-up in the other half.

The Opening Round whittled the field from 56 to 32, and the bracket quarterfinals will narrow things down even further, leaving 16 of the most obnoxious, despised people in the Penguins hockey universe to battle it out further. Without anymore byes, the whole field will need to earn its way tot he bracket semifinals.

The Bettman Bracket - Voting starts on March 14, 2016. Gary Bettman and Marc Staal are joined by the opening round winners: Trevor Gillies, Scott Hartnell, Tim Peel, Stephane Quintal, Tuukka Rask, and John Vanbiesbrouck.

The Dubinsky Bracket - Voting starts on March 15, 2016. After receiving Opening Round byes, Brandon Dubinsky and Pierre McGuire will join the field that still includes Colin Campbell, Claude Giroux, Ed Rendell, Craig Adams, Adam Graves, and Kerry Fraser.

The Milbury Bracket - Voting starts on March 16, 2016. David Volek, John Tortorella, Chris Neil, Jack Edwards, Eugene Melnyk, and Shane Doan move on from the opening round, and Mike Milbury and Alexander Ovechkin are thrown in the mix after receiving byes.

The Scuderi Bracket - Voting starts on March 17, 2016. A couple of former Penguins received Opening Round byes in this bracket, and Rob Scuderi and Mike Johnston will face off against Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Marchand, Derek Stepan, Ted Leonsis, David Morehouse, and Zac Rinaldo for the right to move on further.

The opening round kicks off with a field of 56 players all vying for the spot as the one Pens fans love to hate the most. Voting kicks off on Monday, March 7 with the Bettman Bracket, and the polls will be open until Saturday, March 12. With two byes per bracket, the field will be shrunk from the initial 56 to 32 contestants before next week's voting. The opening round breakdown:

The Bettman Bracket - Voting starts on March 7, 2016. Gary Bettman and Marc Staal receive the byes for a bracket consisting of the commissioner, four current players, 3 former players, 2 media members, a former GM, an NHL referee, the Director of Player Safety, and a current Pens coach.

The Dubinsky Bracket - Voting starts on March 8, 2016. Brandon Dubinsky and Pierre McGuire receive the byes, and the bracket consists of 4 former players, 3 current players, a media personality, a former Penguins executive, an owner, a former perspective owner, a former referee, a member of the league's front office, and the former Governor of Pennsylvania.

The Milbury Bracket - Voting starts on March 9, 2016. Mike Milbury and Alexander Ovechkin sit this round out with byes in the bracket that includes 6 current players, 2 former players, 2 current NHL head coaches, 2 media members, an owner, and the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Scuderi Bracket - Voting starts on March 10, 2016. Rob Scuderi and Mike Johnston get the automatic pass to the next round with byes. The bracket includes 7 current players, 2 TV broadcasters, 1 former player, 1 owner, 1 former Penguin head coach, 1 agent, and the current Penguins President and CEO.

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