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Penguins to welcome back Dana Heinze tomorrow night

The Pens honor one of their own against the Lightning in long-time equipment manager Dana Heinze

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Longtime Penguin staff member Dana Heinze will be honored by the team tomorrow night.

From the Pens:

The Pittsburgh Penguins will honor former Head Equipment Manager Dana Heinze on Saturday, October 15, it was announced today.

Heinze, who recently retired after a 33-year career in professional hockey, including 16 years with the Penguins, will be honored in an on-ice ceremony prior to Pittsburgh’s game against Tampa Bay. Following the ceremony, the Penguins will host Dana and his family for the game to cap off the celebration of his career.

Heinze, 54, began his professional career with his hometown Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League in 1988, then later worked for the New Jersey Devils, Lightning and Penguins. He is a four-time Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay (2004) and Pittsburgh (2009, ‘16 & ‘17) and worked 2,306 professional games.

Heinze, a native of Johnstown, PA, was inducted into the Cambria County Hall of Fame and his high school, Westmont Hilltop, retired his No. 30 jersey in 2018.

It’s been a seamless transition for the Pens behind the scenes, with Jon Taglianetti taking over as the official head equipment manager in 2021-22 and Heinze serving as an assistant. Now the torch has been past, with Heinze stepping down this year, but it’s good to see he hasn’t gone far.

The logistics of setting up for the pros is fascinating to me. Between working at the Pens’ practice rink in Cranberry, their game arena in Pittsburgh and then all the traveling to 31 other NHL cities per year, the hours this crew puts in to get the team set and ready is really remarkable considering all the cleaning, drying, lugging and preparation they have to do so that the players have everything ready to go when it’s their time to shine.

Over the years, be it through the “In the Room” series or other media, the work that goes on has been given some deserved spotlight, as well as the relationships built between the staff and players. Heinze, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang snooping around the locker-room at the All-Star game one year and checking out all the other player’s equipment style and preferences stands out as one such moment.

So give a cheer and welcome back a hard-working Penguin and give thanks for a great career for Heinze, one of the unsung heroes that helped contribute to three Penguin Stanley Cup teams.