Pittsburgh Penguins History
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of five teams in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Penguins play at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and wear uniforms of black, gold, and white.
Led by center Mario Lemieux, one of the best players of his time, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup championship in both 1991 and 1992. From 1988 to 1997 Lemieux earned six Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer and three Hart Memorial Trophies as the league’s most valuable player (MVP).
The Penguins joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1967. The new franchise recorded seven consecutive losing seasons from 1967-68 to 1973-74. Beginning with the 1974-75 season, Marc Boileau’s first year as the team’s head coach, Pittsburgh posted winning records in four of five years. The Penguins assembled one of the league’s best offenses in 1975-76, featuring right wing Jean Provonost and centers Syl Apps and Pierre LaRouche. However, from 1979-80 to 1986-87 Pittsburgh registered eight consecutive losing records and changed head coaches four times.
In 1984, after finishing with the worst record in the league, the Penguins were awarded the top pick in the NHL draft. They selected 19-year-old Mario Lemieux, who went on to score 100 points in his first season and win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. In the 1987-88 season Lemieux collected his first scoring title and first MVP award, powering Pittsburgh to its first winning record in nine years. He won his second scoring championship the next season.
Under the direction of head coach Bob Johnson, Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup championship in 1991, despite the fact that Lemieux missed many regular-season games because of a back injury. Right wing Mark Recchi picked up the scoring slack, and Paul Coffey anchored the defense. Lemieux recovered in time for the postseason, and he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. A few months after the victory, Johnson died of cancer.
Scotty Bowman, winner of five Stanley Cup titles with the Montréal Canadiens during the 1970s, was hired as Johnson’s replacement. Under Bowman, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1992, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks in the finals. During that season, Lemieux earned his third scoring crown, and in the playoffs he won his second Conn Smythe Trophy. The Penguins had several NHL All-Star team members in the 1991-92 season, including Lemieux, goalie Tom Barrasso, right wing Jaromir Jagr, defenseman Larry Murphy, and left wing Kevin Stevens.
In the mid-1990s Pittsburgh continued to be a power in the NHL, led by Lemieux and Jagr. Lemieux won scoring crowns in 1992-93, 1995-96, and 1996-97 and was named MVP in 1993 and 1996. When Lemieux sat out the 1994-95 season to undergo treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, Jagr led the league in scoring. Lemieux retired after the 1996-97 season, and Jagr became Pittsburgh’s leader. He won the league scoring title again in 1997-98 and 1998-99. In 1999 a group headed by Lemieux purchased the team, which had filed for bankruptcy, and in late 2000 he returned to the team as a player.
Official Pittsburgh Penguins Web Site