You know it’s the heart of summer when it’s Mount Rushmore szn. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski is doing them for all the teams and he’s made his way to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It's Day 2 of our MOUNT PUCKMORE series, featuring the four definitive players for each NHL franchise. Today: The Metropolitan Division. You can vote on how we screwed these up right here. #MountPuckmore https://t.co/XRR2uC75en— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 15, 2018
Sidney Crosby, C (2005-present)
Mario Lemieux, C (1984-2006)
Evgeni Malkin, C (2006-present)
Jaromir Jagr, RW (1990-2001)
Potential replacements: Tom Barrasso, G (1988-2000); Marc-Andre Fleury, G (2003-17); Ron Francis, C (1990-98); Rick Kehoe, RW (1974-85)
Puckmore coach: Bob Johnson (1990-91)
Puckmore GM: Craig Patrick (1989-2006).
Outside of plus/minus and game-winning goals, Mario basically leads every offensive category in Penguins history, to go along with, you know, literally saving the franchise from relocation as an owner. The leader in those other two categories? Jagr, who makes the cut if only to see how his resplendent mullet is carved into the mountainside.
Tough to leave out Marc-Andre Fleury as the most important goalie in franchise history, but the squeeze is on with only four spots. Jagr with 806 career games as a Penguin and 1,079 points and five scoring titles is just impossible to leave off. The list doesn’t exist without Mario Lemieux, another no-brainer. Sidney Crosby at this point with 3 Stanley Cups, 864 career games and counting and 1,116 points.
That leaves one spot left. Evgeni Malkin has been resplendent in his career with scoring titles, MVPs, and a Conn Smythe. And his career with the Penguins continues, don’t have much issue with him making it.
The coach spot is one that could be up for a better debate. Beloved Badger Bob Johnson brought Pittsburgh their first Stanley Cup in the only season he was able to be the Pens bench boss due to illness. He’s an icon and special figure in the franchise, no doubt. However if Mike Sullivan finishes the 2018-19 season (good bet) he’ll be up to 300 career games coached in Pittsburgh and ranked 3rd most in franchise history behind Eddie Johnston and Dan Bylsma. Sullivan also has 38 playoff wins, already second behind Bylsma by five (in 17 fewer games!), so it’s easy to paint a picture already that Sullivan with two Cups is already deserving of the top spot today. And since his run is not over, he could be the leader in most meaningful categories before too long.
Sound off if you think there’s any correction to be made, but this one looks pretty cut and dry. Would probably be more debate if you did a Crosby-era Mount Rushmore and then a pre-Crosby era one. I’d have Crosby-Malkin-Fleury-Kris Letang in the former and Lemieux-Jagr-Barrasso-Ron Francis on the latter.