It has been a pretty outstanding decade for the Pittsburgh Penguins, full of amazing individual accomplishments, a bunch of wins, playoff appearances, and a couple of Stanley Cups.
Those are the things that are easy to remember.
What I want to do here is look back at some of the weirdest, strangest, and most bizarre Penguins moments of the decade.
There are some that spring to mind in no particular ranked order.
Henrik Lundqvist flips the net during play
I have always believed this was the turning point game for the 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins. At this point they had been unable to solve Lundqvist, he had eliminated them in two consecutive playoff appearances, and they were looking right down the barrel at a third straight matchup with him.
But something snapped this night, and when he was unable to get a whistle when he was injured during play he turned around and flipped the net over with the Penguins on an odd-man rush. Everyone in the building was stunned. Everyone after the game was stunned. People walking around the locker room and media room randomly asking “HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THAT BEFORE?!” to anyone in the nearby vicinity. Marc-Andre Fleury called it “baby stuff.”
The Penguins won the game, continued on their hot streak in the second half, rolled through Lundqvist and the Rangers in Round 1 and then won the first of back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Eugene Melnyk’s forensics investigation into Matt Cooke
During the 2012-13 season Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was having what could have been another Norris Trophy worthy season when it all unraveled due to the skate blade of Matt Cooke. It was an accidental, unfortunate play and should have been obvious to even the most dimwitted of morons.
But not to Eugene Melnyk.
The Senators owner launched what he called a “forensics investigation” into Cooke’s intent and actually presented his evidence to the NHL.
This started the feud between Ottawa and Matt Cooke, reaching its dumbass conclusion with this article about Don Brennan’s package.
Everything involving John Tortorella
Too many to go into detail on.
The night he talked about Pittsburgh’s “two whining stars.”
His public battle with Jim Rutherford over Jack Johnson.
I know there are more.
The Islanders brawl
It all started with Brent Johnson knocking out Rick Dipietro in a goalie fight and Fleury laughing about it on the bench.
In the next game the Islanders called up their goon squad from the American Hockey League and turned the game into a 1970s free-for-all.
The only thing I will ever take away from this game and remember is Paul Steigerwald on the TV broadcast angrily yelling at Trevor Gillies to “get back in his cage.”
The Frank Vatrano shoe trick game
The Penguins lost their first four games under Mike Sullivan, and one of those games was a particularly ugly loss to the Boston Bruins. In that game Frank Vatrano recorded a hat trick and I will never forget somebody — from the very far back reaches of the lower bowl — launching a shoe on the ice. It was a hell of a throw. The officials skated over to it, looked at it with complete confusion, and skated it off the ice. It was below freezing and snowing that night. Someone had a terrible walk back to their car.
Peter Laviolette talks about DeeJays Ribs then gets banned from there
Okay maybe not banned. But they stopped selling to the Flyers. This was when the Flyers were on an incredible run at the new arena and won every game. That included the brawl game where Peter Laviolette and Tony Granato nearly climbed over the glass to fight each other during a late game line brawl.
After one of the games (it may have been that game?) Laviolette talked about how the Flyers kept ordering ribs from DeeJay’s in Weirton, West Virginia and had them delivered to the plane and how that was perhaps the key to their success in Pittsburgh. He loved those ribs. Then the owner of DeeJays — a Penguins fan, naturally — went public and said they were no longer going to sell to the Flyers. You know those were huge orders, too, and at three or four trips into Pittsburgh a year probably a pretty significant chunk of money.
The Rob Scuderi trade
During Mike Sullivan’s first game as head coach — a loss to the Washington Capitals — the Penguins traded Rob Scuderi for Trevor Daley. It was one of the many transactions that year that set the wheels in motion for back-to-back Stanley Cups. It was a great trade. What adds it to this list is the fact it was actually announced DURING THE GAME and it came just an hour after Scuderi was, for the first time, a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh. That alone gave people optimism that the coaching change might bring better results on the ice. But then they made a trade during the game, and as word trickled around the arena the reaction was like, “not only did they trade him, but they got a decent player? Isn’t Trevor Daley decent? I think Trevor Daley is decent!” Everything would come full circle a few months later when Daley had to play an increased role in the playoffs against Washington after Kris Letang was suspended and scored a huge goal.
Rob Rossi vs. Barry Trotz
In the middle of the Penguins’ 2017 Round 2 series against the Capitals, Sidney Crosby was injured on a collision with Alex Ovechkin and Matt Niskanen. This was before the stuff with Tom Wilson really started to escalate (thought it was always there lurking) and tensions were mainly geared toward the actual game. Trotz began by calling the Niskanen portion of the collision “a hockey play.” This prompted Rob Rossi to ask about the Ovechkin portion and whether or not that was considered a hockey play, resulting in a rather contentious exchange between the two. That resulted in Rossi cutting a wrestling promo video after the game.
These two teams have it all.
Do you have any moments of the weird that you remember that are not included here?
Tell us about them in the comments!