Even during the glorious Mario, JJ, Ron Francis, Paul Coffee years I used to like them and wanted them to go a long way in the playoffs.
They were the underdogs, in a city down on its luck, with a great hockey logo, great colour scheme, and a hockey barn called the Igloo.
What was there not to like? Hey and they managed to play a guy by the name of Zarley Zalapski!
Then they played the team I genuinely cared for in the Cup Finals: The Minnesota North Stars who had Mike Modano. The Stars like most Minnesota franchises (bar the fabulous Twins) were crushed when it came to win with the title in sight. I took sides against the Pens and that feeling never really left me even in the later years with the great Martin Straka in the line up.
But one of the reasons for my distaste of the Penguins is Sidney Crosby who is so hard to like. Canada’s golden boy, and NHL’s Poster Child he rubs me the wrong in every way possible. Why can’t he be more like Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton, dare I say Alex Ovechkin, His on ice whinging is legendary. There were players before who I hated: Billy Smith, Al Secord, Rick Tocchet but they were mostly two bit players. Never did one think that Wayne, Mario, Bobby, Gordie, Jean, Guy were anything but flawless. Sidney is making it so hard to appreciate despite his undoubted skill set.
But there is another thing that rubs me the wrong way and that’s the Pens extended love affair with the dreadful shirt design of the Crosby era. The Penguins wore these for almost 10 years before thankfully ditching them for good last season. These were just plain hideous.
Just to show how ugly these are when you compare them to the fantastic uniforms worn by the Penguins last night versus the Flyers.
These are nothing short of spectacular looking game shirts being at the same time modern, classic, mean and special with tribute to the Steelers (justifiable tribute it is too) all at the same time…
So I hope that Pens management will see the error of their ways and adopt these shirts going forward, but I am not holding my breath.
In the meantime I am going to try to keep an open mind about this club. I owe this much to my dear friend, former Pen and Cup winner Jiri Hrdina who sings praises about people such a Joey Mullen, Ron Francis, and of course Mario Lemieux and a little known fact that were it not for the unheralded back up keep Frank Pietrangelo the Pens would have never won that Cup.