Welcome to The Real DFG's Pittsburgh Penguin Autograph Project. My goal is to eventually try and get at least one autograph of every player to lace up the skates in an NHL game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It could have been for one game or 700 games, I will add them. Occasionally I may post cards of former players in their new team uniforms. While the goal is to get autos in Pens uni's, it isn't always possible. Since the team has been in existence since 1967, the list is pretty large. Last I checked, it was somewhere in the range of 624 different players. Currently, I sit at about 100 autographs (with some duplication). Enjoy the posts.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Double Shot: Ryan Whitney & Sergei Gonchar
Like many of the stories that are told about these former players, they don't always end well. Whitney had a very promising career as a Penguin but a lingering foot problem requiring surgery took his career on a downward spiral and eventually relegated him to the minor league affiliate of the Florida Panthers. This is the same guy that put up 59 points in 2006-07 as one of the league's top D-men.
Sergei Gonchar has a little better story. I will be surprised if he isn't eventually elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame because of the dominant career he had.
He was a pivotal piece in the Pens winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992 (even playing with a partially torn MCL). He was one of the biggest reasons Evgeni Malkin was able to adjust to life in the US after leaving Russia. Sergei took Malkin under his wing, even letting Geno live with him during the early days in Pittsburgh.
He scored 50 goals in nine of ten season span in the league. He was also the first Russian defenceman to score 200 goals, doing so in 2010. From 2000-01 through 2009-10, he scored 500 points, second only behind Nicklas Lidstrom, a sure HOFer. However, he bested his contemporary Lidstrom in points per game during that time with .80 over Lidstroms' .76.
Unfortunately, like things tend to play out in the Free Agent Frenzy world of sports, Gonchar left for "greener" pastures in Ottawa, signing a three-year, $16 million contract. After the lockout, he was again traded to Dallas where he currently (as of this posting) still plays.