Looking back on the offseason, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were all a bit upset to see guys like Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque and Ryan Malone head out of Steel Town. I thought this would be a good time to check in on some of our former friends and heroes from the 07/08 season to further prove the Penguins are fine without them. As for the success of these guys, well, that certainly varies.
|2008 - Ryan Malone||6||3||9||-3||33|
I think it's safe to say there's really no love lost with Malone. Sure, the situation with re-signing him could've been done more effectively on Ray Shero's part, but who really knows what's being said behind closed doors? After all, what if Malone couldn't come to terms with what he was really worth? Obviously that huge contract in Tampa isn't working out too well for him right now. Correction: it's working fine for him. It's the Lightning that caught the bad end of the deal (even if he's in the midst of a five-game point streak). Shhh.
|2008 - Adam Hall||1||1||2||-3||6|
First off, let me just say that file photo of Adam Hall is hilarious. (When you get a chance, check out the Brooks Orpik one too.) But in terms of seeing Hall go, I can't say there was much keeping him in Pitt. He was out most of the year with a sports hernia, but still came back in time to make some significant playoff contributions in both grittiness and production. Hall is the sort of guy who will have a long hockey career but may very well be up there with Jim Dowd in terms of playing for numerous teams before he hangs them up for good.
|2008 - Gary Roberts||2||1||3||-4||16|
At this point in Roberts' career, it's all about the veteran leadership. This is a guy who reached cult-like status in Pittsburgh, garnering such admiration as to have his name swapped into the plethora of Chuck Norris jokes. So far this season Roberts has remained healthy which, compared to his 2008 trip with the Pens, is certainly a miracle. His two goals came in the same game, and much like the other former Pens, Roberts is trying to find himself amidst a disheveled Lightning squad. Had the Pens won the Cup last season it's likely Roberts would have retired on top. It's unfortunate that he chose Tampa as the final resting grounds for what has been an otherwise memorable career.
|2008 - Mark Recchi||5||9||14||-7||6|
Since Recchi started the 07/08 season with the Penguins I felt it was only right to touch up on his season as well. This time last year Recchi was already out of Steel Town and living it up with Kovalchuk and Hossa in Atlanta. Part of me was sad to see him go, but it was more than obvious that his production with the Pens was on the downturn and his relationship with Michel Therrien was more and more frayed. Overall Recchi has witnessed somewhat of a resurgence with the Lightning. In 19 games with the Pens last season Recchi tallied only eight points. This year after 23 games, he's mustered up 14. I guess the change of scenery has faired well for him.
|2008 - Jarkko Ruutu||2||5||7||4||45|
Ruutu has had a few run-ins with the law this season, one of which resulted in a two-game suspension for a flying elbow. Even still, for a guy who is known as one of the league's biggest agitators, Ruutu is also picking up a few helpers along the way. His seven points is nearly half of his season total from last year. While logging some time with the Ottawa Senators, it's likely he'll pick up a few more along the way next to the firepower of Dany Heatley and Alfredsson. For those who may have felt bad seeing him go, it was more than obvious during the home opener in Sweden that there's no love lost here. Ruutu was sure to prove that with a few hard hits to Sid and Geno. Business as usual.
|2008 - Georges Laraque||0||0||0||-4||24|
You can't say you'd expect double digits in any of the scoring categories, but at least Laraque is holding down some time in the box. However, his 24 PIM is definitely lower than I would have expected by this time of the year. Then again, Big Georges has only played in 11 games, so I guess he's still on pace for his two minutes per game average. If anything it hurt to see BGL go for the sheer fact we'd miss out on some great fights. Luckily Eric Godard came to town and seems willing to take over the position (although a little less frequently it seems).
|2008 - Ty Conklin||9||511||6||3||0||0||23||2.70||241||218||.905||1|
How many good goalies can a team really carry? I'm sure if Michel Therrien and Ray Shero had it their way Conks would still be with the team. However, Dany Sabourin was still under contract when it came time to negotiate, so it seemed only sensible to send away the guy who wouldn't take up any more cap space. Conklin is doing a phenomenal job in net for the Red Wings and seems to be in hearty contention for the starting role over Chris Osgood. Pens fans can't forget his clutch performance last season when MAF went down with the ankle sprain. As much as I hate the Red Wings, I'm happy to see Conks may have a full-time gig lined up for next season.
|2008 - Marian Hossa||13||13||26||8||18|
Ah yes, him. Hey, no one ever said Hossa was a bad player - definitely not when he signed on with the Pens during the deadline last season. His 26 points this year lead the Red Wings and have him right there at the top of the league. But would ya know it? Next season is a contract year for him. He may just have to ship out to the next Cup winner for the 2009/10 season. Too bad he's not welcome back in Pitt. There's talk in Detroit already about opening up cap space to sign Hossa long-term after this season. Frankly I could care less. It's not like he's all that effective against the Pens anyway...
|2008 - Colby Armstrong||3||5||8||-1||24|
Colby Armstrong was one of the fan favorites in Pitt. He and Sid were pretty close, and at times it seemed Colby was among the only wingers that could keep up with Sid (much like Kennedy and Talbot this season). Personally I have two memories of Colby from last season. One is the goal he scored in the home opener against the Ducks, a bouncing puck whacked out of mid-air in what was later dubbed a "Crosby-esque" goal. The other, perhaps more memorable, was the only regulation goal by the Penguins in the Winter Classic. Army scored that one less than 30 seconds into the game, and I remember turning to my friend and saying, "This game is going to finish 8-7." Yeah, I was wrong on that one but I don't think the Pens were wrong in trading him. He's since earned the "A" in Atlanta and is having a decent season.
|2008 - Erik Christensen||1||7||8||-7||8|
Christensen was the other third of the trade that brought Marian Hossa to Pitt at the trade deadline (along with rookie prospect Angelo Esposito and Colby Armstrong). Often times there were some mixed emotions in Pitt surrounding Christensen. He came off as a natural goal scorer, but he hardly did much of it. He'd easily score a goal one game, and then appear lazy and groggy the next five. Michel Therrien took the liberty of making Crusher the healthy scratch on more than one occasion, so perhaps the trade down to Atlanta was better for him in the long run. If anything, the Pens lost a guy who really had a knack for scoring on the shootout. But overall Christensen is still developing and has to shed that image of a one dimensional player.