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Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury will try to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins back to the Stanley Cup.
Founded in 1967, the Pens were the first expansion team to beat a “Original Six” team, beating the Blackhawks 4-2.
In 1969 the Penguins drafted Michel Briere, and ended up making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, defeating the Oakland Seals in a four game sweep in the quarterfinals, with Briere scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime. In the semi-final round, defending conference champions St. Louis Blues got the best of the Penguins during six games. Briere led the team in playoff scoring, recording five goals (including three game winners) and eight points.
Tragedy struck the Penguins just days after their playoff heroics. On May 15, 1970, Briere was in a car crash in Quebec, suffering brain trauma and going into a coma from which he never recovered, passing away a year later. His #21 jersey was never reissued, remaining out of circulation for the Penguins until it was formally retired in 2001.
The team became an offensive juggernaut making the playoffs almost every year, but usually losing in the first round do to their lack of depth at defense and goalie. This happened till the the early 80s where they started to reshape the team into more of an overall team, but finished dead last in 82 and 83. But in the 1983 entry draft the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted the highly sought after rookie Mario Lemieux first overall, but even with his tremendous talent, they couldn't make the playoffs until 1989 where they swept the New York Rangers in the first round but lost in game 7 to Philadelphia Flyers.
In 1990 the Pens decided to sign a slew of players to help Lemieux out, which ended up to their benefit when they won the Stanley Cup in 6 games against the Minnesota North Stars. Then the Penguins got another first, being the first team to ever go to the White House and meet the president, which was George H. W. Bush at the time. The next year they swept the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in a row.
In 1993, when Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease which was a form of cancer. Only two months after the diagnosis, missing 24 out of 84 games, he came back to win his fourth Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion with 160 points. But then Mario announced his retirement in 1998 due to health issues, and he was inducted into the hall of fame in the first year after his retirement. But would later return to Pittsburgh as a part owner and player for the franchise, the first and only in hockey history.
With the team diminishing in skill in the early 2000s, ending up in the bottom 5 almost every year, but giving them high draft picks. In 2003 they took a goalie named Marc-Andre Fleury, in 2004 they took the second most sought out russian in the draft Evgeni Malkin (first being Ovechkin) and in 2005 they took Sidney Crosby. And now armed with some of the best young players in recent history they raced for the playoffs but came up short again coming in last but had the most goals for. In the 2007 draft they took Jordan Staal a sought after two way forward.
In 2007 the Pens finally made their playoff appearance, but were beat by Stanley Cup runner ups the Ottawa Senators. But in the 07/08 season they made the cup finals but loss to the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. But that didn't slow them down as they made the finals again the following year, facing the Red Wings again, but this time beating them in 7 games to get the franchises third Stanley Cup, and Crosby being the youngest captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup.