“I told him that a player on a streak has to respect the streak.” — Crash Davis, Bull Durham.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the franchise’s first career Stanley Cup in 1991. It was a wonderful story of achievement for Mario Lemieux ascending to the top of the mountain and taking his rightful place among hockey’s immortals. But it took a team effort with Kevin Stevens, Ron Francis, Mark Recchi, Larry Murphy, Jaromir Jagr and the rest of the guys to get there. Led by the indomitable “Badger” Bob Johnson They looked like this when they won it.
1992 saw the adversity of losing their coach to cancer, replacing him with Scotty Bowman and the Penguins repeated. Their jerseys that night looked like this:
Then, after two championships, the team “modernized” in their own words on the official website.
The black and gold uniforms remained unchanged until 1992.93, when the triangle and penguin logo was modernized. The white home sweaters featured the new logo on the front and gold shoulder inserts
The “triangle” which became known commonly as the Robopen, at the expense of the SkatingPen.
The end result though, was that the Penguins didn’t respect the streak. They won two in a row with the SkatingPen logo. And back in that day with the Islanders and Oilers dominating the 1980’s, it looked to the world that Mario might set the tone and hog the Stanley Cup for the 1990’s for Pittsburgh.
And then, they changed the damn jersey.
Of course, the Penguins didn’t fade away. Despite Lemieux being diagnosed with cancer in early 1993, he got treatment and found a way to come back to the game. And still win the scoring title. Because...Mario. No doubt jolted by this, the team then went on what still lasts as a NHL record 17 game winning streak towards the end of the season. They went into the playoffs as the undisputed big dogs.
With a jersey looking like this:
The team didn’t respect the streak. They changed the logo up in the middle of the championship rush. It ended immediately after they did so, in one of the biggest NHL upsets when a weaker Islander team downed Pittsburgh in overtime of Game 7.
You never disrespect the streak.
The Penguins never won a Stanley Cup in the “RoboPen” era. Even though the black jersey with gray highlights looked cool, and some fans are fond of this style, it wasn’t really a good Pittsburgh Penguin look. And the Pens have had a ton of nice jerseys so it was a challenge to pick one. The design that stands out as different, is this logo and concept.
The Penguins are the skating penguin. It’s black. It’s yellow (not to be confused with “Pittsburgh gold”, which is really just yellow). No Vegas gold. No RoboPen ‘90s inspired logo. Just the good old fashioned, tried and true jersey and logo works great. The team has gone back in this route, phasing out the RoboPen and the “Vegas gold” (which is gold) over recent years. Nowadays Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are styled in one of the sharpest jersey and color combos in the league, particularly the clean white away jersey that pops to the eye.
The Penguins have had many good jerseys throughout their history. The worst though, was messing with a streak and introducing a new one in 1993. Luckily, they’ve corrected that. But when you have an ugly sweater party and need a Penguins entry, the best choice is that white RoboPen jersey.