A pretty bland existence interwoven by two powerhouse teams that won five Stanley Cups, The Pittsburgh Penguins have seen just about everything during their 53-year history. After tanking to draft Mario Lemieux in 1984 and shadily winning the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes in 2005, the organization suddenly build competitive teams on the ice, often going through multiple players very quickly to unlock success.
Number 5- Eddie Olczyk
Once a journeyman forward in the NHL, Olczyk today can be found as a broadcaster on NHL on NBC. He played for seven different teams in his 1,031-game career. Olzcyk signed a two-year deal as a free agent with the LA Kings in the summer of 1996, but was traded before the end of the 1996-97 season to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Glen Murray. He played the last remaining 12 games for the Penguins and 56 games during the 1997-98 season, recording 33 points in his 68 total games in Pittsburgh. In the 1998 offseason, Olczyk signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he would end up retiring the following season.
Number 4- Miroslav Satan
A veteran on 1,050 games, Miroslav Satan is best known for his eight-year tenure with the Buffalo Sabres. By the time 2008 rolled around, Satan was a veteran of 13 NHL seasons when he signed as a free agent with the Penguins. He played 65 regular season games before being assigned to the AHL at the trade deadline. He was recalled for the playoffs and played in 17 of the Penguins playoff games and won his first Stanley Cup. The Penguins opted to not re-sign Satan in the offseason, instead eventually signing with the Boston Bruins.
Number 3- Ziggy Palffy
After stints with the Islanders and Kings, Ziggy Palffy’s career was in limbo due to a lingering shoulder injury. After the 2005 lockout, Palffy signed a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in the first 42 games for the Penguins, but out of nowhere on January 18, 2006, Palffy announced his retirement from the NHL, just three months into his three year contract, after reaggravating his shoulder injury. He announced his comeback in the summer of 2007, but stayed in his native Slovakia for five more years before retiring again, for good this time.
Number 2- Marian Hossa
In the middle of the best run of his career, tearing it up with Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2007-08 season, Marian Hossa was a huge addition by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2008 trade deadline. He was acquired as part of a five man deal that also brought Pascal Dupuis to the Penguins. Hossa played in 10 regular season games for the Pens scoring 10 points, but his real value happened during the playoffs. The Penguins had a dominating 2008 playoff run, going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, though lost to Detroit in six games. Hossa chipped in 26 points in 20 games. He entered the free agent pool during the summer of 2008 and despite fielding offers from Pittsburgh and Edmonton, he signed with the Red Wings, whom he deemed as his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Number 1- Markus Naslund
The Canucks legend played 12 of his 16 year career in Vancouver, though his famous career started with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Taken 16th overall in the stacked 1991 draft, Markus Naslund’s early career started with a messy contract dispute with the Penguins. He remained unsigned by the time July 1, 2003 came around and could’ve been a free agent. The NHL wouldn’t let him sign a deal with another club because he was still in Sweden. Naslund was eventually deemed a free agent, though did not sign with another team as the Pens threatened to match any offer thrown his way. After begrudgingly making his way to Pittsburgh, Naslund found little success with the Pens, earning the name “Mr. September” in reference to his amount of hype versus his little production. After surviving three seasons with the Penguins where he was nothing more than a bottom-line forward, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for famous draft bust Alex Stojanov on March 20, 1996, and the rest is history.
Opening his NHL career with a nine-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Alexei Ponikarovsky saw his first taste away from the Buds at the 2010 NHL trade deadline. He wanted to remain in Toronto and was hopeful they would re-sign him in the offseason, but that never ended up happening. He was acquired by the Penguins in exchange for prospect Luca Caputi and journeyman defenseman Martin Skoula. He joined the Penguins and played 16 regular season games and 11 playoff games, scoring just 14 points combined. In the 2010 offseason Ponikarovsky signed a one-year deal with the LA Kings.
The biggest draft bust in league history started his career with the Ottawa Senators, but later became a journeyman forward once his reputation was on the decline. After a two-year absence from the NHL, Daigle attended the Penguins training camp for the 2003-04 season. He lead the Pens in preseason scoring, which earned him a contract for the season, but he couldn’t keep up his play and found himself on the bottom line and eventually demoted to the AHL for the rest of the season. Daigle scored 7 points in 33 games in Pittsburgh.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: pintrest.com