September 29, 1973. Brantford (Ontario) Civic Centre. The Pittsburgh Penguins squared off against their arch-nemesis—the truculent St. Louis Blues—in an NHL exhibition game.
Early in the second period all hell broke loose. The Pens’ pint-sized policeman Bryan Watson—an early version of Bobby Farnham—was hunched forward into the wheelhouse of [...]
The late Barclay Plager, noted St. Louis villain and early Penguins tormentor once said, “It’s not who wins the fight that’s important, it’s being willing to fight. If you get challenged and renege, everyone wants to take a shot at you.”
He didn’t know it at the time. But “Barc the Spark” could’ve been addressing our present-day Pens. The one [...]
The Penguins have employed their share of pests—the thorn-in-the-side guys who make a living out of irritating the opposition. Here are my top seven:
1. Bryan Watson (1969-74) Watson wasn’t nicknamed “Bugsy” and “Superpest” for nothing. Like his partner in crime, Glen Sather, the tough little defender excelled at getting under the oppositions [...]
One of the earliest Penguins heroes, Vernon “Keith” McCreary typified the teams of the late 1960s and early 70s. While hardly a star, he was a diligent two-way player who always gave his best effort.
As a youngster growing up on the shores of Lake Bernard in central Ontario, McCreary dreamed of one day playing in the NHL like his older brothe [...]
In the annals of Penguins history, perhaps no player cultivated a more fearsome reputation—or earned a more colorful nickname—than left wing Bob “Battleship” Kelly.
“Kelly was the guy who took care of everybody,” former Pens teammate Rick Kehoe recalled. “He was our enforcer.”
Fighting was his stock in trade, and few players of his era did it [...]
The seeds for “the Battle of Pennsylvania” were sown perhaps as far back as the mid-1960s. Upon learning of the National Hockey League’s ambitious plan to expand from six to 12 teams, Senator Jack McGregor and Peter Block lobbied hard to secure a franchise for the Steel City. Meanwhile, Philadelphia virtually was handed a team because it was [...]