SB Nation’s third cross-league ‘theme week’ began earlier this week on May 4, with the theme of this week centered around Marvel and its wide array of superheroes. And what better way to combine Marvel heroes and the Pittsburgh Penguins than to make a team of the most well-known Marvel group — the Avengers — with a crop of some of the best Penguins who fit the description of their hero counterparts.
For the sake of this article, I am limiting the count of Avengers to Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America, some of the more recognizable Marvel faces, even though the Avengers have had a rotating cast of characters since the 1960’s. Let’s take a look at our heroes.
The Hulk — Evgeni Malkin
I think it’s a pretty apt description. When Geno gets mad and goes on a tear, it’s easy to see how he and the Hulk would be one and the same. The big Russian goes into another mode when he’s determined to leave his mark on a game—not all that different from Bruce Banner when he gets angry. You wouldn’t like either of these men when they’re angry.
Captain America — Phil Kessel
In Phil Kessel’s four seasons with the Penguins, the winger never missed a game in the black and gold. I was contemplating placing Kessel in Iron Man’s category, but the legend of Phil Kessel grew so much as a Pittsburgh Penguin that the Wisconsin native became a rallying symbol of hope among the fan base. “Cap” is seen as the pinnacle of human physical perfection, a description that, if you asked Penguins fans, would absolutely fit Phil as a player and person. Kessel was even thrown into the ballot box during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A true American hero.
Iron Man — Craig Adams
Adams may not be the sexiest pick here, but the Harvard-educated grinder always found a way to stay shielded and healthy while in with the Pens, only missing two regular season games between the 2009-10 regular season through the 2013-14 season. Plus, those smarts to attend Harvard have to count for something. Adams’ genius aligns perfectly with that of Tony Stark.
Thor — Sidney Crosby
Superhuman strength, speed, and endurance are just a few of the characteristics that describe Thor. If you didn’t know any better, I could have been describing Crosby here as well. Thor also wields the hammer known as Mjolnir, which grants him the ability to control thunder and lightning. Sidney Crosby wields a deadly backhand shot that sends opposing goalies into another dimension. “The God of Thunder” leaves his enemies trembling in fear and awe, much like Sidney Crosby does on a nightly basis in a hockey rink.
Keep the fun going down below by letting me know what your Avengers team would look like! Feel free to add Penguins players and other Avengers from different eras too!