It has been a long seven years, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally reclaimed the Stanley Cup. The Pens team that made back-to-back Finals appearances, losing in 2008 and winning in 2009, seemed poised to be an annual contender. Yet, the Penguins faltered, being adequate enough to make it into the playoffs, but not great enough to win it all.
That changed when Jim Rutherford was hired as the Penguins General Manager in 2014. He started re-building the team around cornerstones Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. He made a blockbuster deal for Phil Kessel, as well as other trades, and made the controversial decision to fire Pens’ head coach Mike Johnston and replace him with their AHL coach, Mike Sullivan. It all worked out in the end.
For a more in-depth look at how the Penguins rebuilt themselves into a championship team, plus a recap of every players’ contributions, take a look at this interactive timeline. ■
Or you could get them some ice from the Consol Energy Center that has been melted down and put into a puck or a mini Stanley Cup. It’s the ice that the Penguins and Sharks skated on for Games One, Two and Five. This is great for Pens fans who like water that they can’t drink. And if Sidney Crosby spit on the ice in any of those games, it might even have his DNA! No, not really. All kidding aside, these are pretty nice.
The Crystal Puck looks fancy and comes in a posh blue box that bears the Stanley Cup Championship logo. It costs $49.99, with free shipping.
But I think I like the “Crystal Cup” better.
Like the real Stanley Cup, the Crystal “filled with ice” Cup comes with its own coffin storage case. At $79.99 (with free shipping) it costs a bit more than the crystal puck, but I think the box makes it worthwhile. It lists out the years of the Penguins’ four Championships, their regular season record, the results in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and the game-by-game results of the Finals.
Before Sidney Crosby was “Sid the Kid,” he was…well, just a kid. Crosby was touted as an elite prospect long before he was drafted, and even had several hockey cards released before he went onto NHL stardom.
This is Crosby’s earliest known card, though price guides will usually omit it because it was not found in a pack with other cards. Instead, this came inside of a magazine called Rookie Review during the 2002-03 season. The photo shows Crosby when he was tearing it up for the Dartmouth Subways in Midget AAA Hockey as just a wee 14-year old phenom.
Like many kids growing up in the 1980s, I played with G.I. Joe action figures. Each figure had an interesting code name like Snake-Eyes, Shipwreck, Roadblock or Cobra Commander, had a ton of poseability — including swivel-arm battle grip! — and came with some pretty cool weapons.
Another great thing about G.I. Joe action figures was that each one came with its own file card on the back of the toy packaging — a small profile about the character that you were supposed to cut out and save for future reference. Believe it or not, these file cards many times became a factor when deciding which figure to buy. As a nine-year old, standing in the toy aisle of K-Mart, with only enough scratch in my Ghostbusters wallet to get one figure, I had to make a tough choice each week. All the figures looked awesome, so the file cards told you what kind of character the toy was supposed to be, which made picking one easier.
So this got me thinking, what if NHL players had file cards that summed up what you needed to know about them? It would quickly get you up to speed if you haven’t been following their career, and help you decide if you were going to like them or not.
Yesterday was the birthday of Fred Rogers, the longtime host of the children’s TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And while Rogers passed away in 2003, the work that he accomplished during his lifetime lives on. His work in television had a positive influence on multiple generations of children. Rogers also convinced Congress to not cut funding for public television, and was a proponent of technology that would allow TV programs to be recorded for later viewing. All that, and he was once the “Celebrity Captain” of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Andy Bathgate, the Hall of Fame forward known best for his years with the New York Rangers, passed away on Friday at the age of 83. He spent 17 seasons in the NHL, scoring 973 points (349 G, 624 A) in 1.069 games. Bathgate was named to the NHL All-Star Team four times, won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and appeared in the annual NHL All-Star Game each year from 1957 to 1964. Here we take a look at Bathgate’s career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards. Continue reading “Career in Cards: Andy Bathgate”
Hello Puck Junk readers. Sorry that I have not posted too much to this site lately. Truth be told, I’ve been doing some more writing for The Hockey News, and they just published what very well be my magnum opus: The Making of Sudden Death: An Oral History.
For those who don’t know — or vaguely remember — “Sudden Death” was an action film released in 1995, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film took place at the old Pittsburgh Civic Arena, and was set during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Sudden Death” featured a lot of Penguins personalities, such as Luc Robitaille, Jay Caufield, Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald, and I spoke with many of them. I also talked with the director, writer and producer. You can read the article online here. Please take a look and let me know what you think. ■
It’s been quite some time since Puck Junk’s last installment of “The Lost Cards,” where we investigate the fate of hockey cards that should have been but never were. Today’s “no card” is of Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.
The checklist for the 2009-10 Upper Deck Series One Hockey set lists card number 48 as Kristopher Letang, back when it was still cool to have a three-syllable name. However, Letang actually is not in the set.
Mario is the big five-oh! All-time great Mario Lemieux is 50 years old today. Despite numerous ailments and injuries, plus a three-year retirement, Lemieux had one of the most remarkable NHL careers. He won six scoring titles, was league MVP three times, played in 10 NHL All-Star Games, was a First Team All-Star five times and a Second Team All-Star four times. The list goes on and on.
More importantly, he saved the struggling Penguins franchise numerous times. His stellar play was a big reason why the team won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992. He purchased the team in the late 1990s, keeping the team in Pittsburgh. His comeback in 2000 also helped the struggling team by increasing interest (and ticket sales) for the Pens. Lemieux also helped secure the deal for a new arena in Pittsburgh. He has helped the Penguins off the ice as much as he did on the ice.
Jaromir Jagr’s 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier rookie card was one of the most sought-after hockey cards of the season. As far as Jagr RCs went, this was the one to have that year, especially in the United States, where we had to pay through the nose to get OPC Premier cards. Seriously. Full sets were selling for $125; sealed boxes $250. The Jagr card itself was a cool $15. But through some shrewd purchases and trades, I ended up with several.