On The Penguins: Team of the '60s
Some pretty good players wore a Penguins sweater, even in the early years of the franchise when it was young and so was the arena it called home.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Clockwise from bottom, goalie Les Binkley, Ron Schock, Bob Woytowich, Jean Pronovost, Ken Schinkel, Keith McCreary and Duane Rupp.It's easy to forget a lot that has happened to the Penguins since they entered the NHL in 1967.

Sometimes, that's a good thing.

After all, what fan who is emotionally invested in the team wants to dwell on multiple bankruptcies, that 15-year, 42-game winless streak in Philadelphia, or the Penguins' failure to qualify for the playoffs for six consecutive springs in the mid- to late 1980s?

But even in the darkest of times, some pretty good players wore a Penguins sweater, and that sparked the idea of selecting an all-decade team for each of the five (or portions thereof) the franchise has spent at Mellon Arena, which is in its final season as their home.

The idea will be not simply to identify the 12 most talented forwards and six most skilled defensemen for each 10-season block, but to assemble a team that follows the rough template of the 2009-10 Penguins: Two lines counted on to drive the offense, a third that's good at both ends and an "energy line" that blends physicality with responsible defense. Ideally, the blue-line pairings offer a balance of offense and defense.

Players were selected on the basis of their performance for the Penguins, during the period for which the choices were made. (For example, Hall of Fame defenseman Tim Horton will not make the team from the 1970s, because he played just 48 games as a Penguin.) Also, forwards had to have been used at the position for which they were picked.


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Jack riley's team of the 1960s

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Members of the first team, culled from guys who played for the Penguins during their first three seasons in the NHL, were selected by Jack Riley, the first general manager in franchise history. Seemed only right, since he was the guy who actually did put Penguins rosters together 40 or so winters ago.

For purposes of this feature -- and to give Mr. Riley a slightly larger talent pool from which to make his choices -- the decades will break down this way: 1967-68 through 1969-70, 1970-71 through 1979-80, 1980-81 through 1989-90, 1990-91 through 1999-2000, and 2000-01 through Present.

Thumbnail notes
Bathgate: Excellent skater and puckhandler, with powerful slap shot.

Binkley: Posted six shutouts during franchise's first season.

Boivin: Fierce hitter who excelled in own end.

Briere: Breathtaking offensive talent mortally injured in auto accident after rookie season.

Burns: Unflappable, and great defensive forward.

Dea: Solid two-way contributor.

Fonteyne: Good at both ends, strong penalty-killer.

Ingarfield: Hard worker, good skater and team guy.

MacNeil: Played body well, could move puck.

McCallum: Rugged, hard hitter.

McCreary: Good leader who played outstanding defense.

McDonald: Creative offensively, reliable defensively.

Prentice: Underrated and versatile, and he didn't mind doing the dirty work.

Price: Dependable, steady presence on blue line.

Pronovost: Consistent, tenacious, superb goal-scorer.

Rupp: An under-appreciated asset.

Schinkel: Capable scorer on teams that needed goals.

Schock: Dependable all over ice, good intangibles.

Smith: Could throw punches as well as stop pucks.

Woytowich: Steady, smart and commander of his own Polish Army.



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