Happy Halloween, Penguins fans.
Here is a simple question for you: what makes a hockey player scary?
Is it their physical attributes? A freight train combination of height and weight? Or is it a man’s ability, no matter his size, to drop his gloves and go toe-to-toe with the opposing team’s biggest player or best enforcer, psychologically impairing the other team?
Well, today, in honor of the holiday, we’re taking a look back at some of the scariest Penguins in team history.
The most recent Penguins player that fits this spook-tacular bill may be Ryan Reaves. Reaves was acquired by the Penguins at the 2017 NHL Draft in exchange for the Penguins’ 2017 first-round pick and forward Oskar Sundqvist. While the trade itself was, and still is, a bit of a head-scratcher, Reaves’ physical impact was felt almost immediately, and he endeared himself to many a Penguins fan:
The 6’1, 225-pound winger brought his hard-nosed, physical antics to one of the toughest towns in the country. And while the Manitoba native wasn’t a Penguin for very long, you can’t deny he helped strike fear into the hearts of Metropolitan Division foes while wearing the black-and-gold sweater.
6’4, 230 pounds. Good luck battling that. Nicknamed “The Hand of God,” Eric Godard had already established a reputation of being one of the league’s most notorious enforcers by the time he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2008-09 season.
Over the three seasons he spent in Pittsburgh, Godard recorded just 10 points... and 352 penalty minutes, but did capture the Stanley Cup with the legendary ‘08/09 squad.
Godard was also involved in the now infamous Penguins-Islanders brawl during the 2010-11 season. Godard tried to come to the aid of goalie Brent Johnson, who had his hands full with New York’s Michael Haley:
What a mess that was.
For his actions during the mayhem, Godard was handed a 10-game suspension by the NHL.
In all, 65 penalties were assessed, including 15 fighting majors and 21 game misconducts, resulting in a total of 346 penalty minutes.
Another member of that 2010-11 team, Aaron Asham’s two years in the Steel City saw him accrue 122 penalty minutes.
6’3, 273 (!!!) pounds. Georges Laraque was brought in during the 2006-07 season by his former junior coach, Michel Therrien, to protect the up-and-coming stars like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang.
And for his efforts, Laraque accumulated 159 PIM while with the Pens, and 141 penalty minutes in the 2007-08 season alone.
And if you really want to go down a Georges Laraque rabbit hole, here is a 2-hour YouTube video of almost every single fight Laraque participated in over his 14-year NHL career:
Steve MacIntyre’s Pittsburgh Penguins tenure only lasted a combined 13 games, but it’s his time down on the farm in Wilkes-Barre with the Baby Penguins that made me include him here.
In this clip from the 2011-12 AHL season, MacIntyre goes after Springfield Falcons goaltender Paul Dainton.
That is insane. “He’s gone bananas!” I don't know if I've ever seen a hockey player so incensed while on the ice. MacIntyre received a cross-checking minor, an elbowing major and a match penalty, for a total of 17 penalty minutes. Springfield was given eight minutes of power-play time as a result of this.
Saving the best for last, eh? The cult hero, Gary Roberts.
By the time he arrived here, Gary Roberts was a 41-year-old winger who looked to be on the last legs of his professional career. Hampered by injuries, Roberts was traded to the Penguins from the Florida Panthers in exchange for d-man Noah Welch.
But in doing so, the elder statesman Roberts looked reinvigorated, surrounded by the young talent that would eventually go on to become legends in their own right. He registered 13 points in 19 games with the Penguins to close out the 2006-07 regular season. In addition to that, Roberts also tallied two goals and four points in the short, five-game series with the Ottawa Senators during the ‘06-07 postseason.
While the Penguins were undone in unceremonious fashion during the 2006-07 series, Roberts and the Penguins would return to the playoffs one year later, facing the Ottawa Senators again:
At 41 years and 322 days old, Roberts became the oldest player ever to record a multiple-goal game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Oh, and he also tried to fight the entire Senators team, too. That’s what Gary Roberts would do.
Roberts would finish his lengthy career after the 2008-09 season. He would hang up the skates with 438 goals, 910 points, and 2,560 minutes in the sin bin.
There you have it. A list fit for a ghoul, goblin, ghost, or grinder.
Am I missing anyone? Do you have another player in mind that could be called the scariest Penguins player in franchise history? Sound off down below!