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Pittsburgh Penguins, Assemble!


Major stick-tap to Mike Darnay for making this gem of a photoshop. There are some very minor movie spoilers in this post, but nothing that will ruin the plot.

I would never consider myself a comic book fan girl growing up (we'll pretend my unhealthy desire to know if Archie picks Betty or Veronica doesn't sit in the corner of my bedroom in multiple boxes). The purest appreciation of legendary characters who colored children's minds with courage, humor, and justice, I cannot claim, but I've bought into the superheros craze that has consumed the box offices recently. I've embraced my bandwagon status, like many others, because deep down, we still cling to the belief that good will always triumph over evil. And in times of distress, our grip becomes that much stronger.

We could all use an honest superhero, I feel. It is one of the many reasons why these superhero movies, like the recently released Avengers, have become a phenomena. Since there are no known superheros patrolling the lands, many people turn their favorite sports stars into the superheros they so wish to exist.

So in honor of the absolutely amazing Avengers movie currently in theaters (and if you haven't seen it yet, shame on you), I thought it would be fun to turn four of the Pittsburgh Penguins into Avengers.

I think you will find that the similarities are easy to spot.

Sidney Crosby as Captain America (er...Captain Canada?)

Probably the most obvious pairing of the bunch for the obvious reasons. Both Crosby and Cap have inherent leadership qualities that set them apart from their peers. Born leaders, their qualities allowed them to embrace their titles as "captain." But the common ground doesn't end there.

In many ways, they have been representatives and even symbols of their respective countries. Throughout his "existence," Cap has donned the red, white, and blue to fight America's greatest foes in recent history, including the Nazis, Communists, and terrorists. He fought so that the average American could live the American Dream. Crosby may not be able to throw a shield like a frisbee, but he has been Canada's ambassador on multiple occasions. He is the face of their game and the one who brought Canada to victory on the grandest of stages.

Take away the shield and the hockey jersey, and you also have to very similar personalities. Steve Rogers is your good ole American boy (aw shucks) from Brooklyn who did not have a privileged childhood or a flashy personality. Crosby, too, is the token Canadian boy: always polite in front of the cameras, says all the right things, and removes his shoes when he enters a house. Moms would love to introduce both to their eligible daughters.

Most importantly, their actions as they live out what they were born to be, speak louder than any of their words.

James Neal as Iron Man

Not as layered as the correlation between Crosby and Cap, but what stands out for both is their vibe of indestructibility.

Tony Stark's powered suit of armor became his claim to fame as a superhero (despite being a genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist). The armor gives him the ability to fly and the use of many weapons at his disposal, but the superhuman strength is the key to everything. It makes Stark the Iron Man.

James Neal has been the "Iron Man" of the Pens since arriving to the team and he was on full display all season. Only missing the final two games of the season to heal some nagging injuries in preparation for the playoffs, Neal foot was on the gas pedal from the first game of the season and he didn't let up. Earlier in the season, Neal blocked a shot with his foot and was thought to have sustained a fracture. Further test results proved the diagnosis incorrect. Neal would just soldier through a preexisting condition and bone bruise. As Puck Daddy put it so nicely, Neal's foot was magic.

And all of Pittsburgh could sigh in relief; their sniper wasn't going to miss any time. Neal hasn't been slowed down by injuries and I bet we can thank Gary Roberts, Fiji water, and Neal's "curls for the girls" for that.

Evgeni Malkin as Hulk

(I promise, this is not a commentary on Malkin's looks.)

The Jekyll/Hyde back and forth that is the life of the soft-spoken Dr. Bruce Banner and Hulk isn't the prettiest, but no one can deny his importance. His strength is second to none and Banner's knowledge of gamma rays is key to stopping Loki. For those reasons, I would say the Hulk is the most valuable member of the Avengers and we learn that he is the most feared, especially toward the end of the movie.

As of late, Malkin has been the most feared of the Pens. His play all season earned him another Art Ross Trophy and an MVP nomination. Neal might not have been stopped by injury, but there wasn't an entity that could stop Malkin from being the best player in the regular season. Personality wise, like Banner, Malkin tends to be quieter in comparison to the others, but once he's on the ice, he can become a monster. However, there was a downside to this avalanche of aggression: it made him do stupid things, like take penalties at key moments in a game or hit his own teammate (or in Hulk's perspective, attack his fellow Avengers).

Either way, both Malkin and Hulk have a wonderful knack for damaging the "bad guys."

Kris Letang as Thor

I might have said that putting Hulk to Malkin had nothing to do with looks, but that ends here.

I mean...


Letang may not be blond, but when I was trying to figure out who best embodied this Avenger, my mind immediately fell to the All-Star defenseman and his long hair, scruff, and accent that makes many girls swoon.

Stepping away from the superficial traits they share, these two are both feisty characters. Thor's feistiness stems from his arrogance, his desire to show everyone who's the boss. It eventually gets him in trouble and his father, Odin, sends him to Earth without his powers. Letang's feistiness is all gamesmanship. If a player throws a questionable hit, he will respond and will not back down from a fight. Many times his reaction is warranted, but other times, it gets the Pens into penalty trouble.

Blame it on the powers or the looks (or both), these two are gods in many ways.