hockey penguins

Top 10 Fondest Penguin Moments

10:27:00 AMPaul

These are not the greatest moments in Penguins history, but they very well could be. All of these stories have some fondness for me, and I will try and recall as best as I can what I was feeling for these moments. It was so hard just to pick 10, but these are the ones that stick out in my head.


In the salary cap era NHL it was so improbable for a team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals consecutively. The Penguins, and Red Wings did just that. The Penguins came back from absolutely insurmountable odds by beating the Flyers, Capitals, and dominating the Hurricanes to make it to the Cup Finals.The Red Wings were last year's champion, and handled the Pens the year previously with precision and efficiency. 
I was on the phone with cXnX co-founder Ian Clomenty during the final few minutes of Game 7, chanting "oh my god" over and over again like a prayer. The final few seconds I was still in disbelief, as the entire team rallied around "The Flower" throwing all their equipment in the air like a Canadian high school graduation. I was so overwhelmed with 8 months of invested time and love into this team, and seeing it pay off for them, and me what too much to handle.
All summer I watched any available replay of that game, with the same teary eyed result. What an incredible game.


1991 was the year I hitched my interests to the Penguins from the first Cup and from there on out I invested my precious childhood into following the team. For whatever reason, there was a parental protest against hockey so it wasn't banned like wrestling was, but it was frowned upon. This was the first Cup I saw live on TV. I remember not making a big deal about it thinking there were handfuls more to come afterwards. I was hockey arrogant in my first year watching, little did I know it would be 17 years later before I would see it again.


Everyone knew this was Mario's last season. He WAS Pittsburgh hockey, bottom line. I don't know of anyone who didn't watch that game. What was memorable was the entire school watching it on the classroom televisions. Everything stopped. Teachers, students, administrators, not only allowed it but reveled in it. This city loved Lemieux, hockey, and when he scored on the replay that afternoon we all cheered in unison. Every classroom, every person, the entire building one organic entity of joy all at once.

This was Lemieux first game back. The level of anticipation, and fan fare was INSANE. Every word on people's lips was Lemieux. Everything from local businesses, to busses, to buildings all heralded the return of our hero. It was magical. I remember being at a Christmas party for Edgewood country club, and no one cared about food, drinks, or anything else but to see 66's skates hit the Igloo ice again. The game was halfway over, and my liquor and viconen cocktails were stealing my cognative abilities. When he scored, it was another magic bonding moment. The entire city celebrated like a war ended.

This game was more awesome than others because it was one of the first games I ever went to. Mario scored 5 goals that night, and Leroux and Twist were eyeballing each other all night. Twist was arguably the heavyweight champ that year racking up 14 fights that year. The game was getting out of hand with Mario taking over since the opening puck drop. The game got lopsided, and as most games like that tend to get unhinged. Leroux was my favorite Penguin, he was 6'8" of destruction, and when he kicked the shit out of Twist, there was so much bedlam in my section it was great. Cascades of obscenities, high fives, and insults erupted all around me. It only cemented my love for hockey even further into my heart.


In 2007, it was the cool hockey "journalist" thing to scare the shit out of Pens fans, by making up facts supporting the Penguins moved to Kansas City. Lemieux was asking for cash for a new barn, and the city said no. Mario was not in the mood to hear no, and actually went as far as guided tours in Kansas City's hockey arena. It gave all fans such anxiety, and stress. even sprung up. No one knew what was going on, it was horrible. When everything got fixed, and paid for it went quick. There were dozens of reports online claiming everything from the Pens moving to everything was going to be OK. It wasn't until a nothing game against the Sabres in March to put all rumors to rest. It was 18 thousand people live on TV breathing a sigh of relief. 

This was incredible because I was there. Through all the corporate sugar coating of the Winter Classic the simple fact of 70,000 people watching hockey outside on New Year's Day. The whole day was magical. The snow fell like a Kincaid painting, and the game went into overtime like a Disney movie. The was only fitting the golden god of Pittsburgh hockey banked the winning goal. The jubilation from the section I was sitting in was incredible filled with hugs, and cold high fives.


In an age before twitter, where you knew news 20 seconds after it happens, this story somehow slipped through the cracks and took me by surprise. It may have been the lack of cable and the excess of alcohol and drugs I enjoyed around that time in my life, but Mario coming back was a shocking surprise to me. I was bar-tending at Edgewood Country Club and some old dude urgently shuffled in front of the TV and turned on the local news. I heard from the valet guy that Mario was coming back. It brought the whole place into a frenzy. It looked like one of those 80's movies where people huddle around a public TV to hear that the Ghostbusters had a ghost problem. The news made everyone lose their minds, and the celebratory drinks made me weekend money during a Tuesday morning shift.


There was no amount of hype that could justify the impact Sidney Crosby would have on the future of Pittsburgh hockey. Notating the impact he actually had could fill another blog post totally. Sidney Crosby was lauded as the savoir of hockey, and Pittsburgh was getting him. When I watched him get drafted, I looked on with confused optimism.


This was the spark that started it all:

(from favorite penguins pugilists post):
"Ever since the 1991 Stanley Cup victory I fell in love with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember the exact night like a bad beginning to a romance novel.

My grandparents on my mom's side took me to see the Pirates for my birthday. I was still amped with my new Orioles hat (which I still have) and I was completely unaware of the Penguins, hockey, or even the fact that we were in the Finals. Our parents always thought ALL sports were stupid; therefor banned from the house.

We were stick in traffic leaving the Pirate game due to the Penguins game letting out the same time, people were so happy. It wasn't the type of manic rioting you see in Montreal, but genuine happiness. My grandpa rolled down the windows in the car, and let in the noxious monoxide filled night air, and honked victoriously. I asked what happened, and he replied "Our boys did it."

I asked genuinely, "Did what?"

My Grandpa smiled at me like only he could with compassion, and said"We won Stanley's Cup!"

I replied like a true 11 year old, "Does that mean we are the best?"

My Grandpa laughed and told me,"Yes, it does."

I felt so much pride, and a sense of communal joy that night I was a fan ever since. From that day on I have followed almost every single game from then on."

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