Wednesday, May 25, 2011

20th Anniversary of the Penguins First Cup

It was 20 years ago today in Bloomington, Minnesota that the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup Championship defeating the Minnesota North Stars four games to two.  Captain Mario Lemieux was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.  This Penguin team was loaded with stars led by NHL Hall of Famers Lemieux, Ron Francis, Joe Mullen, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, and Larry Murphy.  These Hall of Famers were supported by multiple time All Stars Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Tom Barrasso, and an 18 year old rookie phenom that took the NHL by storm Jaromir Jagr.  Many believe the key to this team's championship run was the blockbuster trade that brought Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, and Grant Jennings to the Penguins in exchange for Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski, and John Cullen.  Penguins coach and eventual Hall of Famer 'Badger' Bob Johnson was the perfect fit to lead this team to the promised land.  GM Craig Patrick also had hired Hall of Fame and winningest coach in NHL history Scotty Bowman to Director of Director of Player Development to assist in the formation of the '91 Penguins.

The City of Pittsburgh truly became the City of Champions on May 25, 1991 as the Penguins joined the Pirates and Steelers as championship winning professional sports teams.  The City hadn't seen a championship since 1980 and celebrated appropriately by greeting the players at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and partying on the Southside. 

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote a Where are they now? piece on some of the members of this championship team.  Here are some clips of this great run from one of the best sports videos ever made "One from the Heart."


  1. Once an instant classic and still to this day a classic.... One From the Heart.

  2. "Let's take this thing down to the river and party all summer!!!!!!!"

    I remember going down to the Civic Arena to wait in line for the pro shop to open in order to buy one of those cartoon championship t-shirts then again for "One From the Heart".

    Also, I remember seeing the Southside news coverage thinking,what are those people doing? Little did I know that I would be doing that 20 years later for championships.

    That was a great team.

  3. Another interesting fact about the blockbuster trade. Eddie Johnston was the the GM of the Pens until '89, when he decided to join the Whalers in the same capacity. He served the Whale until '92, just enough time to deal those players to the Pens. He then became the Pens coach in '93. So basically he was at the Whalers long enough to steal their best players and then hustle on back to work for the Penguins haha.

    Unfortunately, it was in '92 when the Penguins made one of the worst moves in their history by letting go Bowman. We all konw the rumors of why he was ultimately let go after a successful cup run.

  4. They probably would have won at least one more cup under Bowman had they kept him around. EJ just couldn't cut it.

    Pens were well on their way to a 3rd cup run in 92-93, but got upset by the Isle's. Bowman let go and the team couldnt get over the hump.

  5. I didn't know EJ went to Hartford then came back. Very generous of him to give us Francis & Ulf.

    That team was loaded, along with the 92 & 93 squad. All the back loaded contracts, contributed to the franchise filing for bankruptcy later on.