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A deep dive of the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins on the Stanley Cup

History nerds unite, we look at all four times the Pittsburgh Penguins have been etched on the Stanley Cup and show who's on multiple years, the differences over the years and revel in the team's success!

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday's announcements of the Stanley Cup being engraved with the 2015-16 names of the Penguins got us wondering about the other years that Pittsburgh has been etched a letter at a time on sport's most famous trophy.

First, thanks to the twitter account of "Mr. White Gloves" Phil Pritchard, here's what all 4 years look like.

Here are all 197 etchings associated with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a single look (click to enbiggen):


And here are the people to appear multiple times as a Penguin, of those 197 times they've written names on the Cup, 43 are repeats. 40 of them have appeared twice (in many combinations), 1 person has appeared three times, and just one has appeared every time the Penguins have ended up on Lord Stanley.


Some other various thoughts:

  • The Penguins first year in 1991 is by far the most different from all the rest. They only have 41 names (compared to 48, 52 and 52 in the subsequent etchings) on there, probably in part because of how much detail they put on there. It's the only year where they detail job titles for staff members (i.e. "Scott Bowman Dir. P.D. & Recruit") and the poor players only ended up getting first initial and last name (which isn't uncommon for other teams and in the past).
  • It seems weird that it's just "Scott Bowman" on there, isn't it? "Kristopher" Letang too, what did Pierre choose the etching? (And he's on the list of names too, of course for his assistant coaching in '92).
  • The other main difference is the split between staff and players. There were only 35 total names in '91/'92 for non-players, the more recent years had 55 combined names. Back then somewhat random players with little-to-no experience with the team made it. These days, the team doctor, trainers, video staff make it over the fringe players. No commentary and nothing is necessarily better or worse. It is, after all, the organization's award.
  • '92 had the most different alignment of player names. '16 is straight alphabetical order (after captain), and '09 and '91 are alpha-order after captain + alternates, so that makes sense. '92 looks to be the 12 regular forwards (in seemingly random order after captain Mario Lemieux), then 6 defensemen, then the 2 goalies and then 11 extra players.
  • The 2016 etching, by contrast to '92, only had 4 extra players after the top 20.
  • But the formatting hasn't been exactly the same in any 2 years the Pens have been on the Cup. Even in the Lemieux ownership era there's slight differences: in '09 alternate captains Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar jump to the top of the players listing alongside captain Sidney Crosby. In 2016 A's Malkin and Chris Kunitz are relegated to normal alphabetical, with only the captain breaking that and getting special notoriety.
  • Another change in the 66 ownership era: a partial owner got more formal in the past 7 years as "Bill Kassling" in 2009 became "William" for 2016.
  • There's one woman among the 197 names, Denise DeBartolo York, who was Pens Team President in 1991. She, of course, was the daughter of then owner Edward DeBartolo, and also is the mother of current San Francisco 49'ers owner Jed York. According to internet research, there are only 12 names of women on the Stanley Cup.
  • A good trivia question for your friends might be, "who other than Mario has been on the Cup for the Pens the most?" The answer is former goalie coach Gilles Meloche, the only current team member to be on the Cup 3 times.
  • Mark Recchi and Rick Tocchet won the Cup as players in the '90s and then as staff in '2016. Bill Guerin won as a player in '09 and then as staff in 2016. Other than Mario, they're the only Pittsburgh players to be on the Cup also in a non-playing role.
  • And partly thanks to those 3 gentlemen, it's kind of cool that in any of the 4 Pittsburgh Stanley Cup engravings, there are at least 2 names in any year (and often, many more than 2) that you can find on any other year*. All of these championships are woven together by a lot of the same people, which makes the titles even more impressive.

This was a special and cool item to research and these names will all be on the Stanley Cup for many years to come before being retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. With any amount of luck and good fortune, we'll be able to compare another grouping of Pittsburgh Penguins etchings on the Stanley Cup to the history of these four in the future.

*For instance, 2 names from 1991 (Lemieux, Recchi) appear in 2016. 2 names in 1992 (Lemieux, Tocchet) appear in 2016 as well. 2 names from '91+92 show up in 2009 (Lemieux, Meloche). And, naturally there is very significant overlap between the 2009/16 teams and naturally the '91/'92 teams.