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A Decade Through The Fire: The 2000’s Part 1

When the clock hit midnight on December, 31 1999 it might as well have been a lifetime ago.
Do you even remember where you were? Y2K city? Jesus.
So much has changed. It is sickening.
The 00's have been one twist and turn after another.
One minute you're 18, on your way to college.
The next you're 26 telling dick jokes on the internet for fun. Doesn't make sense. How you get from one place to another is a spectular case of fate.
But the one constant in all our lives have been the Pittsburgh Penguins. From ol'Double J to the escape of Evgeni Malkin from Russia. From worst to first. Isle of Capri, Don Barden, Easy Ed Rendall.
Game 7 in Buffalo, to Game 7 in Detroit joke city.
After the jump, a trip down the 00's using some old posts to light the way.

The best part about having a blog for awhile is that you can rely on old posts to give you a basline. Part of this post, 2001-2006 is a straight copy and past from our Dark Ages post a few years ago.

Other parts of the post are newly written, other parts are from some old time post.
The trip down memory lane starts now:
The first game of the 00's for the Penguins:
A 4-3 win over the Detriot Red Wings. Insane.
And as usual the Internet comes through with a complete recap. [CNNSI.COM RECAP]
Pens comeback from a two goal defiect.
The roster that night:
Poor Robert Dome
Some other cool things from the 2000 season from [PenguinJersey.com]

  • Jaromir Jagr appears in his 700th game on January 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • • Martin Straka ties the team record for two fastest goals by one player (four seconds) on February 11 against the Edmonton Oilers.
  • Martin Straka appears in his 500th career game on February 22.
  • Steve Leach appears in his 700th career game April 5.
  • Jaromir Jagr captures his third consecutive Art Ross Trophy.
As the Pens rolled to the playoffs, they made a big time trade:
Tugnutt redefinded the hot goalie.
The Pens entered the 2000 playoffs as the seventh seed against the heavily favored Capitals.
Tugnett's GAA was like -12, and the Pens stunned the Capitals in five games.
Next up was a legendary six game series with the Flyers. The Pens won the first two games in Philadephia. But then the world fell apart.
Some little known joke, Andy Delmore won Game three in OT:
Game 4, in Pittsburgh haunts us.
Tugnutt's 70 save effort wasn't enough. And in the Fifth OT.
Keith Primeau fired the shot that still hurts:
Just an unreal game. Kovy hit a post in that game. Sickening.
After that, the Pens were done. Delmore recorded a hat trick in Game 5. And back in the Igloo for Game 6, the Flyers won the game 2-1, despite Bob Boughner ending Keith Primeau.
The first year of the decade was, basically, bat shit crazy. The Penguins were rolling along. As the famed story goes, Jagr asked GM Craig Patrick for a winger. Patrick replied, " How about 66?" Jagr was stunned.
The rest of us would join him when the news broke in mid December. Who remembers watching FSN when they showed Buries It skating with Jay Caulfield.
Mario came back on December 27, 2000.
The Penguins powerplay was nearly unstoppable and they made it into the playoffs as the 6th seed. In another epic series against the caps, Marty Straka shook up the world in Game six. He stole the puck off of Sergei Gonchar:
Now Gonch is the assistant Captain of the Penguins. man.
The next series is etched in all our hearts. A masterful seven game series against the Sabres. Trailing late in Game six, and on the brink of elimantion, Mario pulled another miracle by tying the game late in regulation.
Straka, again won game six in OT, and the Pens rolled to Buffalo for the biggest game 7 of their lives.
This of course set the stage for one of the more memorable moments in Penguins history. After Robert Lang tied the game mid-way through the third, Kaspar the friendly ghost appeared, to shock the Sabres.
Next up for the Pens were the heavily favored Devils, and the magic finally, finally ran out in a five game series loss. Little did anyone know, it would be the last playoff game for almost six years.
In the offseason the fall to the dark side began.
On July 11, 2001, after a summer of rumors the franchises second all time leading scorer was dealt to the Washington Capitals. Maybe one of the worst trades in NHL history. The Penguins got in return, Kris Beetch, Michael Sivek, and some other guy.



Picture: New coach Rick Kehoe all business.
What a headset.

Wednesday, October 3, 2001.
The season gets underway, Jagr-less, against the Avalanche.

Lemieux gets injured opening night. Season.

The Pens start the season 0-4.
They have a 6-game winning streak in late January.

Dan LaCouture was the only Penguin to play all 82 games that season.
Robert Lang led the team in plus/minus with a +9.

The ultimate model of ineptitude, Milan Kraft (left), saw his first real chunk of ice time in a season, playing 68 games.
That's Randy Robitaille on the right. We had to look it up.
Kovalev is contemplating opening an account on Justin.TV.

Look at Kris Beech dominating.
That -25 made Alka Seltzer go out of business.

Kovy led the team across the board with 32 goals, 44 assists, 76 points.
So you knew he was gonna be traded soon.

If we ran a blog back then, our self-regulated "don't job Gonchar" policy would have been a Don't Job Jan Hrdina policy.
24 goals, 33 assists, 57 points. Probably won some big face-offs.

Every game wasn't against the Devils. Morozov joke.

Krzystztyfftof Oliwa led the team with 150 penalty minutes.

Friggen Kevin Stevens played 32 games that year.
1 goal. 4 assists.

What is Hans Jonsson even doing.
On any other team, Johan Hedberg's 2.75 GAA and .904 SV% would have mattered.
The Pens went winless in their last 10 games of the season.
They finish the season 28-41-8-5, last in the Atlantic.
This was only the beginning.



Kehoe would be fired at the end of this season.
You will see why.

After suffering the first playoff-less season in 10+ seasons, we were all still naive about where things were headed. Craig Patrick was asleep at the wheel.
It was reality-check time in the 2002-03 season opener at home against the Leafs. The Pens get clobbered 6-0. It's bank to guess that Sundin had two goals at least.

P.S. — Home opener wasn't a sellout.

A big-time tilt early in the season against the Wings in Detroit:

During a stretch in November and December, the Pens went 4-16-1.
The Pens ended the season on a 2-17-2 tear.

That season-ending debacle was aided by the Pens trading away Kovalev.
Who did we get in return?
Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner, and Mikael Samuelsson.

There was not even a fort left standing for Pens goalies to hold.

During some stretches of the season,
the only reason you'd watch was to see Johan Hedberg flip out after a goal.

Lmeieux was beast city that year.
Such an underrated season.

Marty's days were numbered. He popped in 18 goals that year.

Steve McKenna led the team in penalty minutes.
Oh, and his 9 goals were tied for 4th-most on the team.

Alexandre Daigle scored a goal in three consecutive games in early November, a highlight of the season. The Pens lost all three games.
Then he disappeared. See, it's coming back to you now.

Kent Manderville played all 82 games that season.
How did we even survive this?
He was a center. Scored 2 goals and 5 assists.

Jamie Pushor brought up the rear with a -28 on the blue line.

How bad was this season?
Some dude named Dan Focht played 12 games and was a -3.

But that was enough to earn him a Geocities fanpage. DAN FOCHT


Here is a preview of the season from some Pens Geocities page called HITTING THE TWINE:

Speaking of the playoffs, the Pens will be in them. Not only is everyone picking them last in the conference, many do not give them a chance to even compete. Although they have a "young" lineup, the Pens have tons of leadership that is invaluable. They have no pressure, and if they do make the playoffs, Eddie Olcyzk should win the Jack Adams award as Coach of the Year.

Opening night of the 2003-04 season was when the light at the end of the tunnel wasn't a train coming for your balls.
It was actually a beacon of hope:

Pens get outshot 49-11. They lose 3-0. One was an empty-netter.
Regardless of what the rest of that first season for MAF was like, this game showed he was a big-time performer.


Once MAF was sent down due to money issues, it wasn't pretty.
Hope was lost.

Going into their December 18th tilt in Carolina, the Pens were 8-16-4-2.
What was to follow probably changed your outlook on life.

From December 18, 2003, to February 22, 2004, the Pens record was:

Read that again, for every Pens fan's sake.
The back end of that remarkable run saw an 18-game losing streak.

If you've been with us so far in this look back at the Dark Ages, chuckling deliriously,
then you no doubt remember where you were during the wee hours of Wednesday, February 25, 2004, when Rick Jackman ended the losing streak in Phoenix with an OT goal.

But there was reason for hope to end the season. Somehow.
The Pens used the win in Phoenix to spark a season-ending 12-5-3-0 record.
It saved Edzo's job.


Lemieux played 10 games.

Team-leading 52 points. -37.
Can't knock Tarnstrom. He was doing what he could.
If he plays with Lemieux in his prime, 65 PP goals easy.

Lasse Pirjeta led the team with a dazzling +3 in 13 games played.

Koltsov played all 82 games that year: 9g-20a-29p.
We've thrown him under the bus too many times already.
If he walked into your house, you wouldn't know who he was.

Brooks played in 79 games that year.
Free Candy: not so much. -36

Ryan Malone played in 81 games: 21g-22a-43p.

Scuds played 13 games, +2 city. What a player.

Folkhero Dan Focht played 52 games and was -23.
But that didn't stop someone from buying his shirt.

And finally, we go to a number that still sends chills up our spine.

The record is -82 set by someone who we don't care to go to the other tab and find his name again.

The year ended at home, and Edzo went on some rant about how the Pens were making the playoffs next year.



Fox Sports video recap:




Coming out of the lockout, things started to happen.
It all started when the Penguins won the rights to Bing. It is kind of hard to believe that if thE lottery ball wouldn't have come out for the Pens, we might not be writing this.

Edzo was given to the keys to the Pens future, but the bad times weren't over yet.

The Pens got off to a horrible start, and Edzo was fired after going 8-17-6.
He was replaced by Lord Therrien.

Mario played his last game by the time 2006 rolled around.

The vaunted duo of Mark Recchi and John Leclair were awful.

Recchi was traded to Carolina for mud.
LeClair — no one knows why he was even signed.

Zigmund Palffy added his name to Penguin lore by signing a huge free-agent contract then retiring in the middle of the season because he said his shoulder hurt.

Another huge free agent signing didn't get off to a good start either:
But he took his lumps like a man and stuck it out.
What a human/player.
Remember that coast-to-coast goal against the Devils in OT?

The defense was a disaster. And that led to one of the greater meltdowns ever midway through the season:

Jocelyn Thibault.

Looking at the roster, it is hard to fathom what was even going on.
On one hand, Craig Patrick was trying to rebuild. On the other, he was signing all these clowns.
What a lack of direction.

But don't blame Lasse Pirjeta.Another 25 games played and a solid +4.
Not going to lie: we still wish he played here, because all the "Lassie" photoshops would have been a good time.

Future gameday character.

Some of the players on the team didn't make sense.
Tomas Surovy, a staple of the Dark Ages, had 12 goals and 13 assists. He sucked.

Shane Endicott: 41 games played. -9.
What a joke.

And how could we ever forget:

Tomorrow Part 2. 2006-2009