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Let’s play Penguins ‘This or That’

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Occassionally, sports fans have to make difficult decisions when it comes to their favorite team. This is one of those times.

Detroit Red Wings v Pittsburgh Penguins

While scrolling through Reddit, I stumbled upon a post on r/penguins from user u/displacedpensfan asking if you could change some hockey history and choose either the 1993 team or the 1996 team to win the Stanley Cup, which side would you choose.

(The only correct answer to the question is 1993.)

After reading the post, an idea popped into my head in the vein of what was asked in the Reddit thread. Take some similar pieces of Penguins history, and let the fans decide their preference in a little game of “This or That.”

Let’s get it started.


This or That: Franchise Cornerstone

There have been many great players in Penguins history, but two stand head and shoulders above the rest. They are Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.

Mario Lemieux

Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

A franchise savior in more ways than one, Lemieux stands as one of the greatest hockey players of all-time. Two Stanley Cups as a player and another three as an owner make him the most important figure in franchise history.

Sidney Crosby

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Second only behind Mario statistically and in term of importance to the franchise. When Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh, there were still questions about the team’s long term future in the city. Fast forward 15 years and three Stanley Cups and the team stands among the elites across hockey thanks to Crosby.

Poll

Franchise Cornerstone: Lemieux or Crosby?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Mario Lemieux
    (677 votes)
  • 13%
    Sidney Crosby
    (103 votes)
780 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Superstar Sidekick

While Lemieux and Crosby may headline their respective eras in Pittsburgh, neither could have done it all themselves. While all-time greats themselves, having two all-time greats sharing a jersey alongside them isn’t something either will complain about if you ask.

Jaromir Jagr

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Candiens 1995-96 Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

A legend all himself, Jagr came to Pittsburgh in 1990 and was an immediate superstar. He helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in his first two seasons and eventually became captain in his latter years with the franchise. His departure may have left some bitter feelings, but his No. 68 will undoubtedly be retired someday.

Evgeni Malkin

NHL: MAR 10 Penguins at Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you ask a Penguins fan for their opinion on Evgeni Malkin you are likely to generate a pretty colorful response. From one shift to the next he can look like the best player in the world or the most undisciplined player you have ever seen. Regardless, he’s one of the greats in franchise history and has the hardware to show for it. He’s very much Crosby’s modern day Jagr-type sidekick.

Poll

Superstar Sidekick: Jagr or Malkin?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Jaromir Jagr
    (338 votes)
  • 57%
    Evgeni Malkin
    (449 votes)
787 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Stanley Cup Head Coach (20th Century)

It’s not often a team wins back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with different coaches but that was the case for the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. After leading the Penguins to their first title in 1991, head coach Bob Johnson passed away later that year, giving way to the legend Scotty Bowman to guide the team to another Stanley Cup the next year.

Bob Johnson

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

“Badger” Bob Johnson was only with the Penguins for a single season but is was quite memorable. Johnson helped guide the franchise to its first Stanley Cup title in 1991 before succumbing to cancer in November of that year. His famous quote “It’s a great day for hockey.” lives on in Penguins lore.

Scotty Bowman

via NHL.com

Arguably the greatest hockey coach of all-time, Bowman spent two seasons behind the Penguins bench, amassing a record of 95-63-16 and winning the Stanley Cup in 1992. He led the team to the President’s Trophy in 1993 before heading to Detroit.

Poll

20th Century Head Coach: Johnson or Bowman?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Bob Johnson
    (520 votes)
  • 29%
    Scotty Bowman
    (222 votes)
742 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Stanley Cup Head Coach (21st Century)

Following the two legends from the 90’s, Dan Bylsma and Mike Sullivan both came to Pittsburgh in the 21st century and found almost instant success. Both coaches took over after mid season firing of their predecessor and went on to win the Stanley Cup the same year.

Dan Bylsma

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six

After Michel Therrien was fired in February 2009, Bylsma took over a team outside the playoff picture and guided them to the Stanley Cup. His tenure ended in 2014 after failing to deliver on expectations, but he left as the all-time wins leader in franchise history.

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

After Mike Johnston was fired in December 2015, Sullivan took over a team outside the playoff picture and guided them to the Stanley Cup. Sound familiar? Not only did he guide the Penguins to a title in 2016, Sullivan followed up with a repeat the next summer, becoming the only coach in franchise history to win the Cup twice.

Poll

21st Century Head Coach: Bylsma or Sullivan?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Dan Bylsma
    (20 votes)
  • 97%
    Mike Sullivan
    (762 votes)
782 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Arena

Since beginning play in 1967, the Penguins have only called two arena home. Originally it was the Mellon (formerly Civic) Arena before PPG Paints (formery Consol Energy Center) Arena took over starting in 2010.

Mellon (Civic) Arena

NHL: MAY 15 Mellon Arena Home of the Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images

Designed as an opera house, the acoustics inside the old barn were next to none and it showed, especially during the playoffs. Even as the building aged and it was clear and new home was needed, the Mellon Arena remained a crucial part of the Penguins franchise and provided them with a decided home ice advantage.

PPG Paints Arena

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Formerly Consol Energy Center, PPG Paints Arena is the newest home of the Penguins and had the unenviable task of replacing a signature part of Penguins history. Mellon Arena nostalgia certainly didn’t help the new building in the beginning, but two banner raising ceremonies along with a laundry list of on-ice memories will help it right its own chapter.

Poll

Arena: Mellon or PPG Paints?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Mellon Arena
    (440 votes)
  • 41%
    PPG Paints Arena
    (314 votes)
754 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Winter Classic Jersey

For all the outdoor games the Penguins have participated in, the franchise has only played in two Winter Classic contest. First in the inaugural Winter Classic against the Sabres in 2008, then again in 2011 against the Capitals. Both times, the Penguins harkened back to their humble beginnings for jersey ideas.

2008 Baby Blues

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

For the first Winter Classic back in 2008, the Penguins went all the way back to the start of the franchise for their jersey inspiration. The classic blue with the classic Penguin logo looked incredible in the snow globe atmosphere in Buffalo.

2011 Navy Threads

2011 NHL Winter Classic: Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

This is a game many would just rather forget, but it happened nonetheless. Amidst a steady rain at Heinz Field, the Penguins did battle with the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Day 2011 and suffered a loss in more ways than one. Like the 2008 contest, the Penguins harkened back to the old days for the sweaters.

Poll

Winter Classic Jersey: Baby Blue or Navy Blue?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    2008 Winter Classic
    (592 votes)
  • 22%
    2011 Winter Classic
    (175 votes)
767 votes total Vote Now

This or That: Most Hated Rival

Over 50 years of hockey has generated some heated rivalries for the Penguins, but two seem to stand above the rest. While there is some animosity with teams like the Rangers, Islanders, or even the Red Wings, there is nothing quite like the bad blood on display when they face-off against the Flyers or Capitals.

Philadelphia Flyers

NHL: JAN 31 Flyers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Both the Penguins and Flyers entered the league at the same time and it has been a rivalry since the start. Sharing a state is bound to breed some animosity, but these two sides seem to create fireworks every time they meet. The blood really gets boiling when both sides are competitive, but the fire never truly burns out with the Penguins oldest rival.

Washington Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are a few contributing factors that drives the hatred between the Penguins and Capitals, mostly the playoff history and the ongoing battle between generational superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Since realignment placed the Penguins and Capitals in the same division, the rivalry has only grown with three straight playoff matchups between 2016-2018, all which resulted in the series winner going on to claim the Stanley Cup.

Poll

Hated Rival: Flyers or Capitals?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Philadelphia Flyers
    (487 votes)
  • 37%
    Washington Capitals
    (298 votes)
785 votes total Vote Now

That wraps this edition of Penguins “This or That.” You could write up hundreds of scenarios for a game like this, but hey, have to leave something for next time. If you have any ideas for another edition down the line drop them in the comments and I will take record of them.

Hope you enjoy. Stay safe, everyone.