So considering there’s not a whole lot to really dive into for this week’s edition of #TBT, I figured we’d throw it back to one of my all-time favorite stories during the Sidney Crosby era Penguins.
If you’ve been a fan of the Penguins over the past decade or so (or the timeframe when most people in Pittsburgh started paying more attention to hockey since the Lemieux days), I think you probably remember the 2008-2009 season quite fondly. After all, we won a goddamn Cup.
However, what you might not remember from that year is that the Penguins weren’t a very good hockey team for a large portion of that season. In fact, after 57 games that season, the Penguins found themselves with a record of 27-25-5 (or five points outside of the final playoff spot in the eastern conference). Think about that for a second. The date was February 16th and the Penguins had 25 games remaining on their regular season schedule to salvage a playoff spot. Now, compare that to, say, today. The date reads December 6th and the Penguins find themselves a mere two points behind the 3rd place Islanders in the highly competitive Metropolitan division. Crazy, I know. You might even be thinking to yourself right about now, “Wow, we aren’t as shitty as I thought we were.” And here’s the good news – you’d be correct! So perhaps maybe it’s time to stop being a spoiled asshole fan and lay off the #done shaming for a little while longer. But I digress.
So what did the Penguins do to turn the ship around back in ’09?
Well, for starters, former GM Ray Shero decided to shitcan Michel Therrien (who previously led the Penguins to within two victories of a Stanley Cup the previous season) and promote Disco Dan Bylsma from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to coach the team. That seemed to work out alright.
But that wasn’t enough.
Ten days later, Shero would go on to ship defenseman Ryan Whitney (#NeverForget) out to Anaheim in exchange for Chris Kunitz (good) and a promising young prospect in Eric Tangradi (lolz).
But even that wasn’t enough.
With the majority of the Penguins firepower under the age of 25, Shero went out in search for a strong veteran presence before the trade deadline to help guide the Penguins in the right direction.
Enter: Guerin, Billy.
And boy did it not take very long for ole Billy G to acclimate himself with his new teammates. In fact, before Guerin even suited up for his first practice, he was already commanding the locker room.
ESPN – Bill Guerin was acquired by the Penguins at the 2009 trade deadline, a few months before the team’s first Stanley Cup win since 1992.
Crosby estimated it took 10 seconds after the two met until Guerin was busting his chops about the small pads that are attached to the shoulders of the undershirt Crosby wears — and still wears to this day — under his equipment.
“I think he referred to those old blazers, in women’s blazers, they used to have those big pads,” Crosby said, laughing at the memory. “He’s probably used it a few times since then. He likes to recycle those ones.”
Guerin said he was shocked that Crosby did, in fact, put his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of them.
“But when you put your gear on and went out for practice, you saw he was different,” Guerin said. “You saw a different person. The focus, the motivation, the drive. Especially for me, being late in my career where I thought I’d seen everything.”
For those of you that might not understand as to what Guerin was referencing about Sid’s undershirts, here’s what they look like.
(#TBT to the mumps lol.)
As you can see, Sid has built in pads above the traps/collarbone area of his compression shirts. In fact, he’s been wearing shirts like these ever since he entered the league in 2005 as a protective measure for when larger players bear weight on top of his shoulders.
But just because people were kissing Sid’s ass like he was the best thing in ice hockey since Wayne Gretzky, it still didn’t stop his new teammate, 17 years his senior, from putting the 21-year old captain in his place before the two even had a chance to step on the ice together in the same sweaters. The world could use more people on this planet like Billy Guerin.
Have a Thursday, folks.