Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Time Has Come For Action!

I have essentially been a Pittsburgh Penguins fan for my entire life. Ever since I saw them play an exhibition game at the Oakland Coliseum as a little kid (thanks Dad!) I knew they were my team. Having said that, it was not easy being a Penguins fan in the late '80s since they more or less sucked. But then the '90s came and things turned in a hurry. Back to back Stanley Cup championships completely changed the culture of the team and help usher in a decade of dominance. Notwithstanding the magnificence of one Mario Lemieux, that success never happens without one Ronald Francis.

Arriving in a late season trade in 1991, Ron Francis became one of the most crucial and arguably the most dependable piece of the Penguins. Ron Francis made significant contributions to the first Pens Cup, but really came into his own as a Penguin during the '92 playoffs. With Mario out of the second round with his broken hand Francis put the Penguins on his back in Game 4 to even the series with the Rangers and ultimately eliminate them in 6 games, despite being heavy underdogs. Francis continued his inspired play for the remainder of the playoff run and even scored the Cup clinching goal in Game 4 against the Blackhawks. From that point on Ron Francis was almost as dominant in the NHL as he was unheralded. Being in the shadow of stars like Lemieux and Jagr prevented Francis from receiving the recognition he deserved.

Now it is deja vu all over again as he is still being denied one last bit of recognition that he has clearly earned. Earlier this year Ron was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. That has brought to light the one thing his profile is still missing... the Penguins NEED to retire Ron Francis' number 10 jersey!

This belongs in the rafters!

The Penguins need to step up an start to recognize the players who made this team great. I am not saying that Ronnie is the only ex-Pen deserving of this honor (Coffey, Murphy, Barrasso, Mullen?), but he is a great place to start. Let's look at some of his accomplishments as a Penguin:
  • Two-time Stanley Cup champion.
  • 164 goals and 449 assists for 613 points in 533 regular season games. That's good for 4th all-time in franchise history.
  • 100 points in 97 playoff games.
  • Twice led the NHL in assists ('95 and '95-'96).
  • Led the NHL in plus/minus in '95.
  • Twice won the Lady Byng trophy ('95 and '97-'98).
  • Won the Selke trophy in '95.
Along with all of those achievements, Ron Francis was the heartbeat of one of the NHL's top clubs throughout his stay in Pittsburgh. It is time for the Penguins to follow the lead of Francis' other team(s) and retire his number for good. The Pens need to start the process of honoring and embracing their stars of the past. This team was a lot more than just that guy Mario.

2 comments:

snoopyjode said...

agreed. it is a joke that francis hasn't been given due credit all these years for role in creating the powerhouse that was the 1990's penguins dynasty. retiring #10 in pittsburgh would be a step in the right direction. (sorry, gary roberts - i love you but you have no business wearing #10 in black and gold.) it's getting a bit old that mario is the only pen that gets accolades. #66 deserves the credit he gets, but he didn't do it all alone.

Hooks Orpik said...

If the Penguins wanted to retire Francis' jersey, they probably wouldn't have let Ville Nieminen wear it.

Francis was no doubt a terrific player, but he was here for seven seasons.

I like how the Penguins just don't retire any number, only for to honor a terrible tragedy (#21) or for literally the franchise #66.

Francis doesn't stack up to either player or career. He's still a class guy and I love him, but really the next number the Pens should send to the rafters should be #87 in about 20 years.