As Saturday’s melee in Boston fades further into the past, I’ve repeatedly turned a question over in my mind. Why does controversy seem to follow the Pittsburgh Penguins?
My first thought was that I’m biased because of how closely I follow the team. Of course I’m going to hear about everything that happens in and around the Penguins, which can make it feel like they’re constantly in headline news across the league.
My second thought was that the Penguins’ stature as one of the perennial contenders for the Stanley Cup puts them on a pedestal. Almost every game they play is scrutinized and about half, if not more, are televised nationally in some form. As the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys can tell you, media attention cuts both ways.
Or, maybe it’s some of the Penguins’ personalities. James Neal has a history of acting out in frustration, as does Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. Even Sidney Crosby, much more composed since his teenage years in the NHL, has had eruptions in the last two playoff series Pittsburgh has lost. That kind of unfettered emotion can spill over to teammates and opponents, sometimes leading to ugly scenes like we witnessed this weekend.
No matter how it’s happened, the Penguins have developed a reputation, dating back to the infamous Long Island brawl of February 2011 and continuing forward. Until the Pens can repeatedly prove they’re past the habit of getting carried away in intense moments, it will continue to linger.
Larry Snyder and I discussed the Boston situation as well as why fighting absolutely has to go in the latest edition of the Gospel of Hockey podcast, although the primary topic was this weekend’s upcoming matchup with the Red Wings in Detroit.
My MLive Media Group colleague Tom Mitsos joined us to deliver a scouting report on the new, younger Wings, as well as his opinion on the Winter Classic, HBO’s 24/7 series, the Pittsburgh-Detroit rivalry and the Wings’ new home in the Eastern Conference. Larry and I also added our Local Hockey Report, as always: