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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pittsburgh Penguins Retired Numbers: Should there be more?

The Pittsburgh Penguins Retired Numbers
The Pittsburgh Penguins have two retired numbers: #66 for Mario Lemieux, the greatest player in the history of the franchise, and #21 for Michel Briere, a young phenom whose life was tragically cut short.

Out of all the men who have wore a Penguins jersey over the last 41 years, only two have had their numbers taken out of circulation and hung in the rafters of Mellon Arena.

Other players are honoured, both through induction into the team's Hall of Fame and by including their image on the "Ring of Honor" inside Mellon Arena, but no other numbers have been retired.

The Montreal Canadiens retired Patrick Roy's #33 this weekend. The Toronto Maple Leafs no longer retire numbers, but they honoured Wendel Clark by raising his number to the rafters this weekend as well.

At first glance it would seem that the Penguins are doing a disservice to their legacy by not retiring more numbers. Many great players have called the Igloo home since 1967; Stanley Cup Champions, Hockey Hall of Famers, men who have had their numbers retired by other organizations, and yet only those two numbers remain.

Should the Pittsburgh Penguins retire more numbers? And, if so, whose numbers should be retired?

Today we will attempt to answer both questions.


#68 - Jaromir Jagr
Jagr is perhaps the most likely Penguin to have his number retired. Despite the way he left the organization, Jagr trails only Lemieux in games played as a Penguin, total goals scored, total assists and total points. Jagr also won five Art Ross trophies and a Hart Trophy while playing for the Penguins. He was instrumental in the franchise's two Stanley Cup wins and was the team's captain for four seasons.

The city's bitterness towards Jagr's attitude and the fact that Jagr still plays professional hockey (in Russia) may cause his jersey retirement to be delayed, but I believe it should - and eventually will - happen.

No other Penguin has worn #68 in team history.

#10 - Ron Francis
Ron Francis' arrival in Pittsburgh led to the team's first Stanley Cup. He spent seven seasons with the Penguins, finishing third all-time in team assists, fourth in all-time points, winning the Selke Trophy, and being named team captain twice.

Francis has had his number retired by the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

Many Penguins have worn #10 in their careers, most recently Gary Roberts. Francis also wore #9 during his first year in Pittsburgh.

#77 - Paul Coffey
Paul Coffey played four-and-a-half seasons with the Penguins. His single season point total (113) and his career point total with the Penguins (440) are both team records for a Penguins defenseman. He won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1991. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame in 2007.

No one else in Penguins history has worn his #77.

#35 - Tom Barrasso
Tom Barrasso spent 11 and a half seasons with the Penguins, winning two Stanley Cups. He resigned with the Penguins in 2003 for one day in order to retire with the team. He leads the Penguins in games played by a goaltender, single season and career wins and shutouts and single season goals against average.

His attitude towards Pittsburgh media has strained his relations with the city, but his contribution to the Penguins is without question.

Several Penguins players have worn his #35.

#55 - Larry Murphy
Larry Murphy spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup twice and brought the innovative "Murphy Dump" to the team.

He currently works for FSN Detroit and provides colour commentary for Detroit Red Wings games.

Sergei Gonchar currently wears Murphy's #55 for the Penguins.

#19 - Bryan Trottier/Jean Pronovost
This is the only possible retired number that has been worn by two Penguins greats.

Bryan Trottier spent three seasons with the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup twice. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997 and had his number retired by the New York Islanders in 2001. He currently works with the Islanders as Executive Director of Player Personnel.

Jean Pronovost spent 10 seasons with the Penguins and was named team captain in 1977. He was the first Pittsburgh Penguin to score 100 points in a season and currently stands third in career games played for the Penguins, third in career goals and fifth in career points for the team.

The #19 is currently worn by Ryan Whitney.

#7 - Joe Mullen
Joe Mullen spent six seasons with the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup twice. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame in 2000. He was the first American-born player to score 500 goals and record 1000 points and he won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1995 for his contribution to US hockey.

He is currently the assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.

His #7 is currently worn by Mark Eaton.

#25 - Kevin Stevens
Kevin Stevens won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins and played for the team for six seasons before being traded to the Boston Bruins in 1995. He returned to the Penguins in 2000 and played another season-and-a-half there before retiring. He scored 123 points during the 1991-92 season, an NHL record for an American player. He was the first player ever to compile 50 goals, 100 points and 200 penalty minutes in a single season.

Stevens ranks fifth overall in goals as a Penguin and sixth in points as a Penguin. He is also the all-time team leader in penalty minutes.

He is currently a talent scout for the Penguins.

His #25 is currently worn by Maxime Talbot.

#17 - Rick Kehoe
Rick Hehoe was with the Penguins organization from 1974 until 2003, as a player until 1985 and as a scout, assistant coach and head coach until leaving the organization in 2003.

He was inducted into the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

He is third in all-time points for the Penguins, fourth in goals, sixth in assists, and fourth in all-time games played for the Penguins.

Kehoe is currently a professional scout for the New York Rangers.

His #17 has been worn several times by Penguins players, currently by Petr Sykora.

#26 - Syl Apps, Jr.
Apps spent parts of eight seasons with the Penguins and was part of the "Century Line" with Lowell MacDonald and Jean Pronovost.

He is fourth in all-time assists for the Penguins, seventh in all-time points and 10th in all-time goals.

His #26 is currently worn by Ruslan Fedotenko.

#18 - Lowell MacDonald
Lowell MacDonald spent seven seasons with the Penguins, winning the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1973.

His number 18 has been worn many times in Penguins history.

#5 - Ulf Samuelsson
Ulf Samuelsson spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Penguins and won two Stanley Cups with the team. He was known as "Robocop" and was sometimes criticized for being a dirty player.

He is currently an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes.

His #5 was once worn by Rob Scuderi, before Scuderi switched to #4.


Obviously all of those numbers should not be retired, but this is a list of some names that should be considered if the Penguins decide to retire more numbers. Some players who may deserve consideration once their careers are over are Mark Recchi and Alexei Kovalev, not to mention current Penguins such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

I agree with the way the Penguins are currently handling the situation. Retiring a number should be the highest honour that a team can bestow upon a player, and the organization is treating it that way. The Penguins do not need to retire any more numbers at this point. They should leave this honour for those who helped define the franchise.

10 comments:

Robo-Pope said...

There is a reason the Penguins have retired only those two numbers. It makes it that huge of an honor for your number to be retired.
Of those names, perhaps Jagr deserves to have his #68 raised to the rafters. But even he did not reach the standard set by those two.

PenguinsExperience.com said...

Agreed.

I think Jagr deserves it the most for sure, but I like how the Pens make retiring a number a rare event, unlike some teams where it no longer means anything.

Anonymous said...

Less retired numbers is better. Jagr is a definite. I think the Ring of Honor and Penguins Hall of Fame are adequate for the rest.

When was Ulf known as Robocop?

PenguinsExperience.com said...

I remember them calling him that during the Cup runs.
I never understood why.
Wikipedia says "his playing style also prompted his English nickname Robocop for the suit of armor like padding he wore" but I'm not sure if that's true.

Anonymous said...

i think the NHL should retire more numbers, or at least #66

it needs to be done and the players of the league know it - there isn't one player with the number in the league today

Anonymous said...

In order: Jean Pronovost, Ron Francis, Tom Barrasso.

Jagr can suck my wang after lathering it up with his peanut butter.

Anonymous said...

Screw Lowell McDonald.

There was only one #18 who deserves to have his number retired...

HOSSA! HOSSA! HOSSA!

Anonymous said...

Jagr is a must he is one of the all-time greats to have played the game

Billy Causgrove said...

Jagr's number Should be retired

Billy Causgrove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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