Mario calls 1991 reunion event 'a great time'
Jiri Hrdina flew in from the Czech Republic.
Grant Jennings did likewise from Alaska.
And another member of the Penguins' first Stanley Cup championship team logged a full day of driving from Montreal in time to attend the group's 20-year reunion the past two days.
"Wouldn't miss it," Mario Lemieux said just before he and his old teammates hit the links for the annual golf outing at Valley Brook Country Club in McMurray. "This has been a great time, just like it was back then. It was fun to see almost everybody back."
Twenty players showed up, including five Hall of Famers: Lemieux, Bryan Trottier, Joey Mullen, Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy. They swapped stories, laughed, embraced and, by all accounts, never lost a trace of their old chemistry.
"It's amazing," Peter Taglianetti said. "But when we met up in this one room, it was just instant. No hesitation. We're poking fun at each other, having laughs."
"The laughter never goes away, and neither does the bond after you win the Cup," another old defenseman, Randy Hillier, said. "Our hairlines are a little thinner, the waistlines a little bigger, but that's still there."
Not all of the waistlines were bigger. Coffey still looked as if he could rush up the right side of the ice for that trademark backhand dish. Jay Caufield looked as if he could still drop the gloves. And Mark Recchi was fresh off his bookend Stanley Cup title with the Boston Bruins this past spring.
On Monday, these Penguins met at Consol Energy Center, where about 10 of the champions who live outside Pittsburgh were taken on a tour, including the current players' locker room. Hrdina filmed the tour to share it with Czech TV upon his return. Afterward, there was a dinner at the arena's Lexus Club.
Most of the reminiscing was done at that dinner, and most of that was centered, naturally, on the evening of May 25, 1991, in Bloomington, Minn., where the scoreboard showed Penguins 8, North Stars 0, and the franchise finally had shaken decades of malaise.
"You grow up playing hockey and dreaming about lifting that Cup at center ice," Lemieux said. "To do it after all those years of training and hard work, it was amazing."
Lemieux was the Penguins' No. 1 overall draft pick in 1984.
"I knew it was going to take four, five, six years before we could put a great team together," he said. "When you're in last place, it's not going to happen overnight. We had some tough years, even my first couple years. But I gave myself a chance to get some great players around me, stuck with Pittsburgh, and it paid off. We had a great team, a great bunch of guys close. We stuck together and went all the way."
The only players not attending were Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Tom Barrasso, Ulf Samuelsson, Barry Pederson, Frank Pietrangelo and Wendell Young. Jagr rejected the Penguins' free-agent offer this summer to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, but his invitation to this event stood. Samuelsson wanted to attend, but he recently became head coach of Modo in the Swedish Elite League and that team's opener was Tuesday.
Players from the 1991 Stanley Cup champions who attended the Penguins' alumni golf outing Tuesday:
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins alumni rally to help Mitch Wilson, who is fighting ALS
- Penguins coach says team needs to ‘lessen the load’ on Crosby
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract