It’s late on Labor Day, the unceremonious end of summer. That bodes well for hockey, as players start filtering back into town, and before you know it, practices and exhibition games will be underway as the Penguins prepare for the 2022-23 season.
But on this holiday, let’s take a look at some of the favorite hard workers from over the years for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a day to celebrate “the work of workers and their contributions to the growth and development of the United States.”
You won’t find Sidney Crosby or any other stars here. And, sure, there’s probably no one on earth who works harder to keep his mind and body sharp than Sidney Crosby, but that and an elite athlete like Kris Letang doing crazy workouts isn’t the spirit of this exercise. It goes without saying that to reach the NHL level, one must be extremely dedicated and put in untold hours of hard work over the years to reach the highest level. This goes without saying.
This trait is what makes some players their calling card, getting sweaty, dirty, and knowing their role and bringing the best energy and effort possible to the field every day.
We’ll start with a simple one. An obvious one. But it is also very true. Brandon Tanev is nothing but unstoppable energy. Constant work. Walking a million miles an hour on the ice with your feet, it doesn’t matter if you get out of the ice squeal.
Tanev became a fan favorite and naturally enough. He gets his ass up every second of every game and will do anything to win. Bullet ban? no problem. Throw a body around? for sure. Looking for a way to score? Hell yes!
Brandon Tanev is a relentless, frenetic force. Some work harder, some seem to have more fun out there. This is what happens when the big boys play the game and make untold billions of dollars a year (combined in the league).
If shot-based possession statistics had existed in those days, the modern analytics field probably wouldn’t have thought much of Dan LaCouture. The offensive lineman had just 8 goals and 21 points in 137 games with the Pens. And that was around 2001-03, when Pittsburgh was far from a juggernaut and losing more often than not.
But Lacouture was one of my favorite players anyway. I remember one time when he was leading the drill at Southponte, he got a bad catch and he was going too fast and his legs were spinning and spinning and falling and going into a helicopter like motion. boards. It completely ruined practice, but even the coaches had to laugh. That was Dan LaCouture – perhaps working too hard and moving his feet too quickly for his advantage – but he’s always giving it his best effort in the third period, whether it’s a practice against the Fires or a tie game.
And he didn’t back down from anyone, including several fights with T Domi. And sure enough, at 6’2 and 210, LaCouture was taller than T Domi. But if you had the courage to throw down the gloves at Domi (and more than once!) – friend, you had some guts.
While you don’t know the numbers that Dan LaCouture was on that Penguins hockey ice, I can assure you, dear reader, that he is a much higher risk to the other team than he was to Pittsburgh. But his role as a 6’2 freight train and player never changed or diminished, sometimes he couldn’t even keep his legs under him (just ask the coaches at Southpoint). All this energy, hustle and absolutely commendable effort was on the ice. And then that was enough.
Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi
I feel so good, ol’ Penceblog (RIP), when you see USS Hal Gill with Pence every shift. Leaning back on the couch, “Ugh, ugh,” and hoping for the best. Living and dying with each shift as they masterfully capture the emotion.
Certainly, Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi aren’t the kind of guys who are going to be the driving forces behind winning a Stanley Cup on their own. But it may not be a coincidence that every Stanley Cup winner has had heart-and-soul guys like Gil and Scuderi in key roles.
In the year It was lost in history in 2009 for Max Talbot’s role in Game 7 Gilles and Scuderi’s Stanley Cup-winning goal. to Scuderi. Scudsy made a classic play for a second, sucking on the forecheck, “hitting to make the play” (in the words of a classic hard worker) to swing the puck to Chris Kunitz. (Kunitz’s instant slider doesn’t get enough credit even in history alone until Spring Talbot).
Gill has also been cited as the absolute number one player Jaromir Jagr hates playing against. Jagr’s career point/game streak with Boston remains a sour point, mainly during Gill’s tenure in the late 90s and early 2000s. Before Zdeno Chara emerged as a freak (in a good way), Hal Gill was a 6’7, 245 pound mountain of a player. Humans shouldn’t be that big and able to ski and have that kind of reach and strength. As Jagr himself willingly points out, Gill was the only force to limit 68 when he was on the force and usually beat the scorers.
Scuderi, on the other hand, was The Piece in the original Scuderi. He is the epitome of a heart and soul player who puts his safety on the line of happiness and succeeds in doing so. What else needs to be said?
Without hockey, you’d think men like Scuderi and Gill teamed up to build houses or fix pipelines, or some other critical blue-collar job, and everyone would be the unsung heroes helping to protect the community. roll out.
Is this too nostalgic for the days of 2009? Maybe so! But I’m still not sure there was a better or harder-working third line for the Penguins than Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Between the energy, effort, play away from the puck and then the ability to create, there is nothing better than the chemistry created by this line when the parts come together.
Cook was a 10-year veteran when he came to Pittsburgh, and went on to become one of the most controversial and hated players of his generation. He has played in a tasteful line at times, but he always knows he has to work hard to make a difference. Is that an excuse for every decision he makes on the ice? not at all. But he was a player who worked hard, used many opponents in vulnerable positions and answered the bell.
Even in the minors, Tyler Kennedy was good and well thought out, but he didn’t score that much (22 is a career high at any level), but you can’t measure his effort with his heart. to the table. With an amazing motor, great forechecking efforts and all-around play, TK lasted over 500 NHL games for an extended and impressive NHL career.
It’s no secret that Jordan Staal was the Penguins’ “secret sauce” that day. Despite being a third-line center, Staal played the third most minutes of any forward in his final seasons in Pittsburgh. For all the quality wings and attacking opportunities, he had to do a lot of heavy lifting for the defensive zone starters, feeding Sid and Geno the heavy lifting. Staal smiled (until he accepted Pittsburgh’s contract extension in 2012, anyway) but hard work off the ice remained a major source of his family’s well-told history as sod farmers in Thunder Bay.
Therefore, you will see the Gual Ansity. Some of the hardest working and toughest players in Penguins history this Labor Day. Who are some of your favorite types of players in this vein?