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Wednesday, January 25, 2006 

Retiring a Legend

Au Revoir

It would appear that the thing to do if you have any talent in Pittsburgh in 2006, is get the hell out. Another prominent Penguin has retired, and I hate to say that with his exit from Pittsburgh, likely comes the Penguins exit as well. Mario did everything in his power, and then some, to try to keep a franchise in Pittsburgh, but at some point even Super Mario himself has to give up. He is cutting all his ties to the Penguins, and to the city of Pittsburgh, and I'm sure it must be killing him. But what else can he do? The franchise is not financially viable in Pittsburgh, and should move on.

Timbits and Trust

I'm sure a lot of people in Hamilton think a steel town to steel town move should be what comes. They are, however, kidding themselves if they expect to see a Hamilton Steelers franchise anytime soon, or even ever. If a second team is coming to Toronto, it won't be somewhere that the Sabres and Leafs would both have to give permission for. It would make a lot more sense in the north or east end of Toronto, where not only is there a bigger population base, but also more money to support the team. Markham and Vaughn would be the best bets, and the team should take the Toronto name in either case. On top of that, they would need a new name outside of Penguins. Penguins just isn't a good name. For that matter, team names themselves are a little over rated, I don't always see their necessity. That said, it won't be long before teams take advantage of this extra label and auction it out to the highest bidder. And why not? If the new team in Toronto took on the name of a Toronto corporation, wouldn't that be easier to relate to than, say, Penguins or Dinosaurs? Personally, I relate a whole lot better to Swiss Chalet than I do to dinosaurs. I've never had the misfortune of being in a dinosaur, but I do find myself in Harvey's with regularity. So why not name the team the Toronto Timbits, or the Toronto Manulifes? Toronto Dominions would have been a great name, before the merger. There is already a team in Toronto, however, so why not make this Canada's team and just call them the Canada Trusts. I wouldn't mind cheering for Sidney Crosby in the old Green and White.

It is the inclusion of Crosby on this team that would make a second team in Toronto viable. The Maple Leafs are an institution, and no matter what else is going on around them, they will always sell out their games. 100% of the time. It would be hard to get people to spend 80% of the ticket price of a Leafs game to go see the Manulifers in the same time. This is not the case, however, if Crosby is on the team. I can speak to this first hand as someone who has already left the country this year just to go see Crosby play. He would sell a new team in Toronto, and at the same time the Leafs would be equally successful. Since I'm sure they would put in a requirement for the move to include Leafs TV as a provider of 40% of the Timbit's games, it would even bring in more revenue for the Leafs. And the development of an in-town rivalry in Toronto would have an unprecedented effect on the NHL as a whole. Another team in Toronto is inevitable, and if it can come with a guaranteed sell out factor in Crosby, then there is no better time.

The only other place I would like to see the Penguins move to is Cleveland, Ohio. Up until the Blue Jackets entered the league, there wasn't a single team in Ohio. Ohio is one of the few states that has had a large interest in playing hockey for a decent amount of time now, and Cleveland is by far the biggest city in the state. It is also close enough to Detroit, Buffalo and Toronto to set up decent rivalries, as well as with the in-state rival. A huge hockey playing city without an NHL team makes no sense when there are teams in Tampa, Miami, Atlanta and Nashville. Seattle would be another interesting choice. But talk about Las Vegas and other cities that would no doubt be busts like the new teams in the south already would not be helpful to the NHL or team owners. They might as well move to Winnipeg if they're going to do that. At least all the people in Canada would be happy, even if it wouldn't do much for the league itself.

The Legend

In honour of Mario's second exit from the NHL, presented now is a year by year recap of Mario's career. A great career that came a few games short of what we would have wanted to see, and a few games more than what we thought we were going to get.

* 84/85 - 43 goals and 100 points in his rookie campaign, including scoring on the first shot of his career. -35 rating is a tough way to start your career, but Crosby feels his pain. There were no other Penguins then, much as there are no other Penguins now. Calder Memorial Trophy, NHL All-Rookie Team.

* 85/86 - Setting his career record of 79 games played, scoring 141 points. Lester B. Pearson Award, NHL Second Team All-Star. Winning the Pearson Award, and yet not making first team all-star. There must have been another center in the league at the time giving him a run for his money, although his name escapes me.

* 86/87 - The times are turning around for the Penguins, and Mario gets a plus rating for the first time. NHL Second Team All-Star.

* 87/88 - 58 power play assists and 80 power play points. And he still nearly picked up 50 even strength goals. Are you kidding me? Also a career high with 382 shots on net. Art Ross Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, Hart Memorial Trophy, NHL First Team All-Star

* 88/89 - Career highs in goals with 85, assists with 114, points with 199, penalty minutes with 100, power play goals with 31, short handed goals with 13 an a shooting percentage of 27.2%. ALl of this finally earned Mario his first trip to the post season, where he posted 12 goals and 19 points in 11 games. Art Ross Trophy, NHL First Team All-Star.

*89/90 - 123 points in 59 games, and no hardware or postseason play to show for it. What a disappointing season, only 45 goals. Shame on you Mario!

* 90/91 - No hardware in this season, either... Until it mattered. Conn Smythe Trophy and his first of 2 straight Stanley Cups. A memorable playoff run to say the least.

* 91/92 - Two straight Stanley Cups with Tom Barasso and Kenny Wreggat in net. No surprise, then, that Mario is yet again the playoff MVP. Only the second player ever to win two straight playoff MVP honours. Art Ross Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, NHL Second Team All-Star

* 92/93 - Most people think of 1988-89 as Mario's career year, but on a per game basis this year is the best, hands down. Mario missed 20 games due to Hodgkin's disease, and still came back to win the scoring title. Not to mention an NHL record 17 games in a row. We'll all remember the game seven overtime goal by David Volek that put a disappointing end on such a scripted Walt Disney season. Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, NHL Plus/Minus Award, Bill Masterton Trophy (shocking!), NHL First Team All-Star.

* 93/94/95 - Mario missed most of the 93/94 season, and skipped the 94/95 lock-out season due to a mess of injuries, treatments and so on. Many wondered if Mario would return again.

* 95/96 - And return he did, picking up yet another scoring title and MVP honours despite playing only 70 games. Led team to another conference finals appearance. Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, NHL First Team All-Star, Lester B. Pearson Award

* 96/97 - Mario retired with 122 points in 77 games. But a first round playoff exit is no way to end such a storied career. The hockey hall of fame waiting period is waived, and Mario is immediately inducted. Art Ross Trophy, NHL First Team All-Star

* 00/01 - On December Mario made his return to the Penguins lineup, and like the first game of his career back in 1984, Mario scored a point on his first shift. Despite playing in only 43 games, Mario finished 26th in league scoring. This would be Mario's last post-season appearance, with 17 points in 18 games, leading the Penguins to one last Conference Finals birth. Lester Patrick Trophy, NHL Second Team All-Star

* 01/02 - 31 points in only 24 games. Captain of Canadian Olympic Gold Medal Team, and second on team in scoring.

* 02/03 - Lead the league in scoring for most of the season, but missed some games at the end to finish in 8th with 91 points in 67 games. This season will go down as the last hoorah for the real Mario. Unfortunately, the team was a bust yet again. A trend that would continue in Pittsburgh for as long as the team remained there.

* 03/04 - Captain of Canadian World Cup Championship Team. A final time to see Mario in International competition.

* 05/06 - Struggling with the new NHL rules, and another threatening physical illness, Mario called his career to an end. 22 points in 26 games on one of the worst teams in memory, and which already had a super star retire from his roster.

I only hope that the team does not move. Mario was the reason I became a Pens fan and I do not want them to move. Not even if it would mean an other team in Canada. If the rumors of Mark Cuban buying the team team come true, then the team will stay in Pittsburgh. He had shown interest in getting an NHL team, and his home town team just happens to be available.

It's funny, back in November when I went down to Pittsburgh to see the Penguins/Habs game I never thought that I would be seeing Marios last goal. I feel blessed to have been there to see it. Up untill yesterday it was Sids first shoot out goal. Now to me it will always be about seeing Marios last goal.

Does it make a difference that the Marlies are also in Toronto? How are they drawing? Granted, they don't have Crosby, but I'm not as certain that Crosby will be the guy that puts the Manulifers over in T.O. With both the Leafs and Marlies in town as well as the myriad of junior teams, I don't know if Toronto can support another hockey team.

I would love to see the Pittsburgh team come to Hamilton but I know that until they get a new arena (Copps has just about had it) it just won't happen:(
Love the picture of Crosby in green and white!

Somewhere like Calgary has one seventh the population of the extended GTA, and it easily supports an NHL and a CHL team. The Marlies are new in Toronto, and should never have left St.John's. I'm not certain that MLSE even pays attention to the attendance at those games. They just wanted call-ups to not be jet legged being called up to every single NHL city. Also, an NHL team has little effect on CHL games, because the ticket prices aren't even in the same realm. There is easily enough support in the area for two teams. If the Leafs schedule doubled, they'd no doubt still sell out all 80 home games. There is no doubt that Toronto could support two teams, and there is also no doubt that if Crosby is on the new one, both teams would sell out every game.

hopefully cuban will come in and save the team, but i hear he's got more interest in the Pirates now. Portland Penguins sounds fine.

maybe the penguins can move to hartford? i'd love to see the whalers come back! or maybe quebec city? les nordiques!! or maybe just someplace simple like winnipeg!! but they should keep the name "penguins" if they go there...or maybe the winnipeg whoppers? i'm sure burger king would pay to sponsor a team!

and they could have buck seventy nine games on wednesdays, ha!

great topic, keep up the great posts, MMA

Best regards from NY! »

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