I noticed a couple people in the Jersey Concepts Post weren't sure why the Pens switched to black and gold in 1980, and the events surrounding the switch are worth retelling. The club had begun the 1979-80 NHL season wearing the blue set of uniforms, and as we know blue or light blue had been a Penguins fixture since the birth of the franchise. But
in 1979, the City of Pittsburgh accomplished a very rare sports feat, having a World Series and Super Bowl Champion in the same calendar year. Of course, the Steelers were the NFL team of the 70s, and the Pirates had a great decade as well. The Pens were lacking in tradition and success, and felt a color scheme change would be appropriate, as the organization entered the 1980s.
So in January of 1980, the word got out about the change, and the Boston Bruins were furious. Incredibly, the Bruins filed a formal protest with the league office, in order to stop the Pens. As an Original Six club, the arrogant Bruins felt no other NHL club should be allowed to wear black and gold. Fortunately, this protest was rejected for both common sense and historical reasons.
The Western Pennsylvania area is one of the birthplaces of professional hockey, and Pittsburgh had a number of teams leading up to the NHL's 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates. The hockey Bucs wore black and gold, so those colors clearly had a heritage with Pittsburgh hockey. And even the later minor league Hornets briefly wore black and gold, and the Pens logo itself contains those colors.
Soon after, the Pens added a gold alternate jersey, and nearly pulled off a couple of huge playoff upsets versus St. Louis and the the Islanders. Unfortunately, the team dipped again in 1983 and 1984, before a number 66 entered the picture. The rest is history, and the Pens have enjoyed more success than most NHL franchises.