Of all of the people who've had a part in keeping hockey alive and vibrant in the Steel City, one of the most overlooked is Wren Blair.
In 1975, the Penguins were struggling on the ice and at the box office. With dwindling attendance, and rising costs, it looked as though the NHL's Pittsburgh experiment had failed.
That is until Wren Blair, who at the time was head coach of another expansion team, the Minnesota North Stars, led a group of investors in a successful effort to save the franchise.
Blair would serve as the Pens general manager for the next two seasons, and the team went from being cellar dwellers to playoff contenders. Since then, the Pens have had a curious connection with the state of Minnesota. Consider the following facts:
In 1991, the Pens won their first Stanley Cup in Minnesota against the North Stars.
In 2002, the Pens were looking for a new director of player personnel following their most recent bankruptcy scare and promoted legendary University of Minnesota coach Herb Brooks to the position.
In 2005, the Pens drafted a young player who had attended Shattuck-St Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota named Sidney Crosby.
In 2006, the Pens selected a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Ray Shero, to replace Craig Patrick as the team's general manager.
In 2013, the Minnesota Wild returned to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons under the leadership of former Pens assistant coach Mike Yeo and former Pens assistant GM Chuck Fletcher.
Whether these are mere coincidences or fate, it's important to remember how big a role the state of Minnesota has played in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins.