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40th Anniversary 1967-2007

The six-team expansion of the NHL in 1967 meant the end for the Hornets, but the team went out with a flourish, winning both the AHL regular-season title and the Calder Cup playoff championship in their final season.

Enter the Penguins, so-named by the winner of a contest because the team was to play its home games in the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, which was nicknamed "The Igloo".Faced with the job of winning over many fans who lamented the departure of their Hornets, The Penguins' first general manager, Jack Riley, and the team's first coach, Red Sullivan, opted for age and experience in building the original Penguins.Veterans like Andy Bathgate, Earl Ingarfield, Leo Boivin, Ken Schinkel and goalie Les Binkley, all over 30, were original Penguins.

Another veteran, goalie Hank Bassen was added to the original team, a move that was fan-related since Bassen had been the netminder for the champion Hornets the year before.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Binkley became a standout at 31 years of age and with a long minor league pedigree. He posted six shutouts in the Penguins' first season, only two less than the NHL leader, Ed Giacomin of the New York Rangers.Despite Binkley's heroics, the Penguins languished in fifth place, missing the playoffs in both of their first two seasons. Red Kelly replaced Red Sullivan behind the bench in 1969, and led the Penguins into the playoff semifinals before bowing to the powerful St. Louis Blues.

Tragedy struck the franchise just before the 1969-70 season when Michel Briere, the Penguins' prized rookie forward, was seriously injured in an automobile accident.

After a long convalescence, Briere died in 1971.The Penguins were mostly hot and cold for the next couple of years, but a real drought arrived in 1983 and the team missed the playoffs for six straight seasons.Individual stars like Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps and Pierre Larouche brought great honor to the franchise, but the arrival of superstar Mario Lemieux put the Penguins on course to greatness.

Drafted No. 1 overall in 1984, Lemieux won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1985. The Hart Trophy as League MVP followed in 1988, along with back-to-back Art Ross Trophies as the scoring champion in 1988 and 1989.

After a monetary dispute with Head Coach & General Manager Glen Sather, Coffey was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1987, where he played four and a half seasons, and won another Stanley Cup in 1990-91.

Craig Patrick became general manager of the Penguins in 1989, and the team's ascent continued. Patrick grabbed Ron Francis in a trade with Hartford and then drafted Jaromir Jagr with the fifth pick in the 1990 Entry Draft.Patrick brought in college hockey legend "Badger" Bob Johnson as coach of the Pens in June of 1990, and the Penguins Ron Francis was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 with Ulf Samuelsson for Zarley Zalapski and John Cullen; his trade from the Whalers to the Penguins was considered a coup for Pittsburgh, where he centered a formidable second line behind Mario Lemieux's first line.

The Penguins captured their first Stanley Cup ,defeating the Minnesota North Stars in six games as Lemieux captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

The second Cup followed in 1992, as the Penguins swept Chicago in four straight games and Lemieux won both the Hart and the Ross again.In 1992,Rick Tocchet was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Mark Recchi. In 14 playoff games,he scored 19 points,. Johnson had been diagnosed with brain cancer in August of 1991, and was not behind the bench for the second triumph, having been replaced by the team's director of player development, Scotty Bowman.Johnson died at the age of 60 in November of 1991, and a second tragedy soon followed when superstar Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease. Lemieux battled the disease, and recovered enough to win yet another scoring title.

Lemieux is generally regarded as one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL. Despite a Spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle,and an atrial fibrillation, he was a three-time MVP, led the league in scoring six times, and was the playoff MVP both times in his team's two consecutive Stanley Cup championships.He missed many of the scheduled games during his career through illness and injury, costing him a legitimate chance to break Wayne Gretzky's scoring records; he scored 199 points during his best season. His agent suggested he wear 66 since the media was calling him "the next Gretzky." The number 66 is the upside down version of Gretzky's #99.

Now the team's owner, Lemieux is one of the most revered sporting idols in Pittsburgh history. On the ice, Jagr continues to lead the Pens, and GM Patrick continues to run the team from the front office. With that kind of leadership in place, Pittsburgh's rabid fans appear to have lots to applaud in the years ahead.In July 2001, the Penguins traded Jagr to the Washington Capitals for three prospects.

Jagr was the first Czechoslovak player to be drafted by the NHL without first having to defect to the West.[citation needed] He was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He was a supporting player with the powerhouse Penguins that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. He was the youngest player in NHL history, at 19 years of age, to score a goal in the Stanley Cup finals.

Before he had a clean grasp on the English language, he could be heard reading the daily weather forecast on Pittsburgh radio station WDVE in his broken, thickly accented English. He and teammate (and fellow countryman) Jiri Hrdina were promoted as the "Czechmates", a play on the term "checkmate" from chess. Some Penguins fans realized that the letters in his first name could be scrambled to form the anagram "Mario Jr.", a reference to elder teammate Mario Lemieux.

In 1994-95, despite having tied Eric Lindros for the league scoring lead with 70 points, Jagr won his first Art Ross Trophy based on his 32 goals to Lindros' 29 goals. The next year, Jagr set a record for most points, 149, by a European-born player. Both his 62 goals and 87 assists from that season still stand as career-highs. His 1995-96 totals for assists and points stand as the records for right-wingers in those categories. Following Lemieux's retirement, Jagr was awarded the captaincy. From 1997-98 to 2000-01, Jagr would win four straight NHL scoring titles. In 1999, Jagr would win the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the NHL's Most Valuable Player as well as the Lester B. Pearson Award. In 1998 he led the Czech Republic's team to a gold medal at the Nagano Olympics.

In 2000-01, Jagr was struggling to find his scoring touch and faced criticisms about his relationship with coach Ivan Hlinka.With the return of Mario Lemieux from retirement, the Penguins had two superstars but friction developed between the two; Jagr held the captaincy but many fans regarded Lemieux as the talisman of the team. Also, the struggling, small-market Penguins could no longer hope to meet Jagr's massive salary demands. Thus in 2001 they traded him to the Washington Capitals.

June 11,2003 Ed Olczyk was teary-eyed minutes after being hired Wednesday as the Pittsburgh Penguins' coach, and it wasn't because he is taking over a team that could easily be the NHL's worst next season.Olczyk understands the tremendous gamble the Penguins are taking by hiring such an inexperienced coach. A Penguins broadcaster for three years, Olczyk hasn't coached at any organized level since ending his NHL playing career in 2000.

On July 25,2005 By winning the lottery, Pittsburgh secured the right to draft Crosby, a 17-year-old junior hockey phenom, with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

Evgeni Malkin, the star forward and Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick who has said repeatedly he wants to play in the NHL, left his Russian pro team during a training camp in Finland in an attempt to get to North America and play for the Penguins this season.His regular season debut came on Oct.18,2006 against the Devils in which he scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss.

Malkin, the 20-year-old Penguins rookie, helped facilitate a much-needed surgery for a 6-year-old girl in Magnitogorsk, Russia, in September.

Dasha Tusaeva was born without a left arm and her mother, Natalia, hoped she could one day improve her daughters life.

This year, Natalia found out it was possible for Dasha to get an operation that would allow her to have a prosthetic arm. However, with Dashas father paralyzed during a street attack a few years ago, the family could not afford to travel to a Moscow hospital for medical testing and a medical procedure.

Enter Malkin. The young star learned about Dashas situation through a newspaper ad seeking financial assistance for the family in his hometown of Magnitogorsk. Some people from Magnitogorsk donated some money and, when Malkin was alerted to the situation, he stepped in immediately;in a big way. Malkin paid for the family to travel to Moscow for Dashas tests.

When it was determined surgery would benefit Dasha, Malkin stepped up and paid for the 350,000-rubel (approximately $13,461) procedure and covered the costs of the girls rehabilitation.

The Penguins and government officials ended months of difficult negotiations, agreeing to a $290 million arena deal that ensures the team will stay in Pittsburgh.

Keys to the agreement included the government waiving up-front money from the team, the Penguins receiving about $10.5 million compensation for delays and the sides agreeing to share responsibility for cost overruns.

KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh first reported the agreement on its Web site.

"Well, this is a great day for hockey," co-owner Mario Lemieux said Tuesday. "I'm glad that I'm here today announcing a deal with the city, the county and the state, to stay her for 30 years. That was my goal and I'm glad we finally achieved it.

"We would like to enjoy what's coming with this young team," Lemieux said.

He added that the extra arena revenue will help the team spend more in an effort to retain Crosby, the league's leading scorer, stellar rookies Malkin and Staal and other core players who have put the Penguins in position for their first playoff berth since 2001.

"We've been through a lot the last few years," Lemieux told VERSUS network during the Penguins game on Tuesday night. "And to have the team that we have and a new arena, it's going to be very exciting in the coming years. And our goal is to win a Stanley Cup."

The Penguins will continue to play at 46-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest in the National Hockey League, and hope to begin play in the new arena sometime during the 2009-10 season. President Ken Sawyer said it's possible the arena will not be ready for the start of that season.

Gov. Ed Rendell said the negotiations were more complicated than those to finance four new baseball and football stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in recent years because other cities were bidding for the team to move.

"With the other four stadium deals [Pirates, Steelers, Phillies and Eagles] none of those teams had an open competitor that was trying to take the team," Rendell said. "Here we had Kansas City making a very good, some might say terrific, offer and we had to respond."

As a result, the Penguins will not pay $8.5 million up front for the arena, as government officials first proposed, Rendell said. Instead, the team will receive $10 million to compensate it for delays, for property it purchased near the arena site and to help with marketing.

Team officials weighing a move recently visited Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas and were contacted by representatives from Houston. The Penguins were offered free rent and half of all revenues if they agreed to play in Kansas City's soon-to-be-completed $262 million Sprint Center.

Rendell also commended Lemieux, who bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 and pledged to try to keep it in the city. At the time, Lemieux was owed millions in a long-term contract and leveraged that equity to buy the team with investors, including billionaire Ron Burkle.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was credited with mediating the deal, said his "head was spinning" as Rendell itemized the terms of the deal.

"It's clear that there were a lot of moving pieces and it didn't come together easily," Bettman said.

Under the deal, the Penguins will pay $4.2 million a year for the building, including $2.2 million a year for a 30-year lease. The rest could be funded by naming rights; if not, the Penguins will make up that difference.

The team will also contribute $500,000 a year for a new parking garage.

The deal includes $15 million a year in state proceeds from slot machine casinos -- half from Don Barden, a Detroit casino owner who is building a slots parlor in Pittsburgh and half in state development money derived from other casino proceeds. No tax money from the city or Allegheny County will be used.

A sticking point to the negotiations, the Penguins and the state will split any costs above the projected $290 million price up to $310 million. The Penguins will bear any costs above that, Rendell said.

The deal also requires the Penguins to negotiate redevelopment rights for Mellon Arena with the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority. Casino owner Barden is also to be included in those discussions.

Fans and players expressed relief that the team -- one of the NHL's most attractive franchises -- would stay in the city. The Penguins began playing in Pittsburgh in 1967 and won Stanley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992. Their home attendance and local TV ratings are among the strongest of the NHL's 24 U.S.-based franchises.

Before Tuesday's game against Buffalo, Lemieux walked onto the ice and stood in the spotlight as the crowd gave him a standing ovation, with his name "Mario" in lights on the scoreboard overhead.

A sign in the crowd said, "Hey Kansas City, in case you haven't heard. The Penguins aren't coming."

On May,31 2007 Crosby became the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years and 297 days old when he became a captain; previously, the youngest captain in league history was Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier (19 years, 324 days.

Crosby opened Thursdays tour de force by claiming the Lester B. Pearson Trophy, awarded to the Leagues MVP as selected by the National Hockey League Players Association. In a theme that would be repeated throughout the night, Crosby, at just 19 years old, seven months, was the youngest player to win this prestigious award.

A little while later he was summoned back to the Elgin Theater stage to accept the Art Ross Trophy to honor his League-leading 120-point campaign, which featured a League-best 84 assists. He dethroned San Joses Joe Thornton, who won the 2006 Art Ross and finished six points behind Crosby this year.

Crosby is the youngest player to ever win the NHL scoring title and the only teenager to ever lead a North American sports league in scoring.

Finally, Crosby closed the show by accepting the Hart Trophy, the other MVP award. The Hart is selected by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Crosby defeated second-place Roberto Luongo by 424 votes to become the youngest player to win the Hart since a 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky did it in 1980.

Pittsburghs Evgeni Malkin earned the Calder Trophy that eluded Crosby last year. The leading rookie scorer in the League with 85 points, Malkin dominated the vote by getting 120 of 133 first-place votes. Colorados Paul Stastny finished second and Pittsburghs Jordan Staal was a distant third.

Esposito, who led his Quebec Remparts junior team to the Memorial Cup championship at age 17 in 2006, was the top-rated North American prospect by the NHL's scouting bureau as late as February. Going into the draft, he was No. 8.

But as the draft unfolded Friday night, Esposito became one of those players who keeps falling and falling, for no apparent reason -- much like Brady Quinn in this NFL draft and Dan Marino in 1982. Finally, he tumbled to the one team that seemed to least need youthful skills like his.

"Falling in the draft was a little bit disappointing, but now that I'm here it's better than going somewhere else," Esposito said Tuesday. "I'm happy to be here and, at the same time, maybe prove a few people wrong."

Including his own beloved Montreal Canadiens, who passed on him at No. 12 to take American defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The Canadiens and 18 other teams apparently felt Esposito was a little too self centered, didn't progress as much as anticipated and didn't always play with passion last season.

"We lost a lot of good players, and maybe when the season started I was thinking too much about the draft and too much about myself," said Esposito, who is no relation to former NHL stars Phil and Tony Esposito. "But I learned throughout the season how to play on a team."

A team like this one, perhaps?

Owner:Mario Lemieux/Ron Burkle

Team Captains

Ab McDonald 1967-68
No Captain 1968-73
Ron Schock 1973-77
Jean Pronovost 1977-78
Orest Kindrachuk 1978-81
Randy Carlyle 1981-84
Mike Bullard 1984-87
Terry Ruskowski 1986-87
Dan Frawley 1987-88
Mario Lemieux 1987-94
Paul Coffey 1990-91
John Cullen 1990-91
Randy Hillier 1990-91
Ron Francis 1994-95
Mario Lemieux 1995-97
Ron Francis 1997-98
Jaromir Jagr 1998-2001
Martin Straka 2000-2001
Mario Lemieux 2001-2005
Sidney Crosby 2007-

General Managers

Jack Riley June 6,1967-May 1970 Jan.29 1972-Jan.13 1974
Red Kelly May 1970-Jan.29 1972
Jack Button Jan. 13 1974-July 1975
Wren Blair July 1975-Dec.3 1976
Baz Bastien Dec.3 1976-Mar.15-1983
No GM Mar.16 1983-Apr.3 1983
Ed Johnston May 27 1983-Apr.14 1988
Tony Esposito Apr.14 1988-Dec.5 1989
Craig Patrick Dec.5 1989-Apr.20,2006
Ray Shero May.25 2006

Team Presidents

Jack E. McGregor 1967-70
Jack Riley 1970-72
No President 1973-74
Wren Blair 1975-77
Vince Bartimo 1977-81
Edward J.Debartolo Sr. 1981-88
Denis Debartolo-York 1988-91
Howard Baldwin 1991-93
Jack Kelly 1993-96
Donn Patton 1996-97
Craig Patrick 1998-99
Mario Lemieux 1999-2000
Tom Rooney 2001-2003
Ken Sawyer 2001-