Okay, I've been a Pens fan for quite some time now, though, only a serious follower since 1995. Still, I've developed some opinions of quite a few players from watching games on TV, commentary from hockey mags, the Hockey News, and various other means. Just thought I'd share some of that personal insight with you. I won't bother to stagger you with stats, just opinions, observations, and basically hockey talk. I will give you my pronouciation help when applicable, so, without further ado, here are the (most interesting) Pens, both past and present:
C Mario Lemieux (Le-me-oooh). The One, the only. Scored more goals per game than any other player in history. Overcame back problems and Hodgkin's disease to grab more postseason hardware than anyone else this decade. Presently retired.
C Petr Nedved. I don't even want to talk about this guy. Held out for money the entire '97-98 season. Hope he gets traded. I'll change my opinion once he (finally) signs for an acceptable amount.
C Ron Francis. Class personified. Can throw checks, pass the puck onto a speeding teammate's stick, and win the big faceoff. Suffered a broken foot in the 1996 playoffs, which all but wiped out the Pens that year. Now, he plays for the Carolina Hurricanes.
C Eddie Olcyzk (Ohl-chick). In his earlier years, was a highly regarded skilled talent. Now, he's more of a role-player, put on checking and defensive units. Ironically, since he joined Pittsburgh, the team is undefeated in playoff games when he scores at least 1 point.
C Martin Straka. Former Pen became a Current Pen when acquired from Florida before the '97-98 season. What a shot! He's aces on offense, and a decent defensive center as well. Wish he produced more in last playoffs, though.
RW Jaromir Jagr (Yah-row-mere Yah-ger). When Mario isn't playing, he's the best scorer there is. In the league. Appears on more highlight shows than Lindros, Forsberg, and Selanne combined. Still has yet to prove he can lead/carry a team for a significant time through the postseason.
RW Rob Brown. Another former-turned-current Pen, he's a great two-way player nowadays, but perhaps will be best known for scoring roughly 150 million point while playing wing for Mario Lemieux early in their careers. Should remain a Pen for a few more seasons.
LW Kevin Stevens. Gritty scorer played for Pittsburgh for a long, long time. I was personally sorry to see him go, but, he's actually performed quite miserably since leaving the Steel City. I think the Pens need another guy like him before they start thinking Stanley Cup again. Now plays for the NY Rangers.
RW Tomas Sandstrom. Blistering shot. Seemed to never score the BIG goal though. Despite his offensive talents, he also is known for being a dirty player because of his cheapshots and stick play. Broke Brett Hull's wrist with a slash last season. Now plays for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
RW Alexei Morozov. Budding young star. Missed a golden opportunity on an overtime penalty shot in last season's playoffs, but still, obviously a star on the rise, if he can work hard enough to attain said stardom.
LW Luc Robitaille (Row-bit-eye). Scores in bunches, skates like a turtle, asked for a trade just before Mario's comeback to the team in 1995. Starred in "Sudden Death".
LW Josef Beranek. King of the good scoring chance, but practically never scored while a Penguin. To my knowledge, he was waived by Pittsburgh and claimed by Edmonton.
D Darius Kasparaitis. Has the heart of a lion. If he's not on their team, everyone hates the guy for his crushing checks, dirty stickplay, and general pestiness. Knocked Lindros into next week with a concussion-resulting hit on big Eric. Figures to be a Pen for as long as they can afford him.
D Sergei Zubov. Great offensive defenseman, but Mario didn't like him (or his playing style). So, he was traded for Kevin Hatcher. Rarely ever shot the puck, would almost always pass it to someone else, even if presented the most golden of goal scoring chances. Now plays for the Dalls Stars.
D Norm MacIver. Didn't stay long, but made the Pens power play pretty darned good. Scored 7th game-winning goal in '95 playoffs, and was generally solid as a defenseman. Traded for Neil Wilkinson in '95-96 season, who pretty much could only fight, and was too slow. Now plays for Phoenix.
D Kevin Hatcher. Big guy, small game. For all his size, he plays too much like the little guy Pittsburgh traded to get him, Sergei Zubov. He does, however, occasionally excel on the power play, and gets into fights. May not be on the team for the '98-99 season.
D Brad Werenka. Apparent career minor-leaguer was obtained from the Chicago organization and promptly blossomed in Pittsburgh. Was a great power play guy, and pretty good defensively too. Thankfully, signed by the Pens again for this season.
D Ulf Samuelsson. One of the best defensive guys there was in the NHL while in Pittsburgh, but his knee-to-knee hit on Cam Neely of Boston overshadowed his play. Also well known for being the dirtiest player in the NHL for a few years, particularly the early 90's.
D Chris Tamer. An anomaly of sorts. In the '95-96 season he was clearly the best defensive defensman the Pens had. Regressed somewhat the next season, and last season was unquestionably the worst of the team's d-men. So, Chris, how about this season???
G Tom Barrasso. Good goalie, bad attitude. Holds an extremely high opinion of himself. I'd hold the same if he'd only stop allowing weak goals at the worst times. Allowed season ending bad goals in '93 and '96 playoffs. '98 would be one of them too, but it was the first game of the playoffs.
G Ken Wregget. Great attitude, not-so-great skills. He did come through in a clutch 7th game situation in '95 against Washington, with a shutout. Otherwise, he probably gets shelled mostly because the Pens don't play defense. Now plays for Calgary.