The "Defy Ordinary" Pittsburgh Penguins Need an Old Look to Match Style of Play
What's in a uniform, exactly?
From the pigeon to the diagonal word "PITTSBURGH" and that awful black-and-silver bars sweater that has now become a symbol of the dark ages, the Penguins have seen as many uniform changes as any team in the league.
The Dark Ages.
However, the new era of Penguins brought out the old powder blues from the late 1960s for the NHL's Winter Classic a couple years ago and haven't looked back since. The item has become a big seller for the fans and the team itself added the blues as an official alternate Penguin sweater.
And as good marketing goes, the Penguins wore the alternate blues ten times during the 2008-09 season.
But very much like their predecessors who played to a god-awful mark of 20-45-11 in the powder blues, the current Penguins could only manage three victories out of the ten tries. The bad mojo forced the front office to scrap the final two dates and revert back to the primary home jerseys.
Whether the poor play was necessarily the jersey's fault or more evident of the coaching and injury woes, the record still stands.
And now, sitting pretty at 6-1-0 on the new season, the Penguins are scheduled to wear the powder blues for the first of 12 occasions this Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Almost guaranteed, there will be a large number of fans in the crowd sporting the same color jerseys or tee-shirts.
But while the blues are a hit with the fans, why rekindle a look that the Penguins couldn't wait to get away from in the '70s? Bring back the look of a champion!
Pittsburgh is a town of unity. Every sports team in town bears the colors of the flag, the black and gold forever. The Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins are unlike any other family of teams in the country in that regard. Powder blue is not a shade of black or gold.
Both the Steelers and Pirates also wear third jerseys. The Steelers do not wear the same jerseys as the ones from the glory years of the 1970s, but instead feature a similar block-style numbering. The Pirates, well, they have had days of honoring the "We Are Family" Bucs, but that hasn't worked out so well.
The Penguins however, are different from the others in one main area.
12,000 New Generation fans watching the Trib-Tron.
With the young superstars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, many high school and college students find it especially easy to connect with the Penguins. Tons of fans have bought their first Penguin jersey in the last year and proudly wear the numbers 87, 71 or 11.
But with many people only getting a first taste of hockey, the knowledge of Penguin history is fairly bare. They know that the Penguins won two consecutive Cups in the early '90s under Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. But they never got to experience the passion and excitement that those Penguins brought to the rink.
And that is were the older fans come in.
Fans that still own a Black and (not) Vegas Gold jersey. Fans that still wear a Zarley Zalapski "Who the heck is that?!" sweater to the Mellon Arena.
For an old-school coach with old-school style of grinding, blocking shots and playing fundamental hockey, the early '90s look would fit these "Defy Ordinary" Penguins perfectly. Well, there's no such thing as perfection, but we can come close enough.
While the vast majority of the post-lockout NHL is all about "Offense! Offense! Read all about it!", the new Penguins play with a distinct style that has early 1990s written all over it. The new Penguins are loaded with as much skill as any other team in the league, much like they were under Mario. But their defense and hard work brought the Cup to town, not scoring titles.
Forget about the powder blues. Leave those to the fans.
It doesn't matter if the Penguins play to a 10-0 or 0-10 record in them this season. Don't tell me that Crosby or Malkin wouldn't have the "look" wearing the same jerseys as Mario and Jagr. No, the Penguins can't bring the old magic back, but they can easily give the old sweaters to the new kids.
If the Mellon Arena is to receive a proper send-off, a special way to do it would be bringing the two generations of Penguins together while wearing the two jerseys that made each one a champion.
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