The Pittsburgh Penguins went back to the future on Thursday, swapping former legends with present ones to recreate one of the franchise’s most iconic photos.
After watching their club snag the Stanley Cup for the second straight year, the Penguins faithful took to Twitter to call for a new version of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr’s well-known back-to-back photo, taken after the former teammates earned their consecutive wins in the early 90’s.
The Penguins delivered, even going so far as to put Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in jersey colours aligning with the original image.
The Empire Strikes Back-to-back. pic.twitter.com/EHktJfGCnB
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 13, 2017
Few franchises have been as fortunate as the Penguins when it comes to getting a shot at drafting elite talent.
Pittsburgh hit the jackpot decades ago by landing both Lemieux and Jagr, who combined for 11 scoring titles in Penguins colours – the pair won the Art Ross Trophy seven straight times between 1995 and 2001, with Jagr earning five in that span and Lemieux netting two.
The past decade hasn’t been any less kind to the black and gold, it seems, as Crosby and Malkin have amassed three Stanley Cups, four scoring titles, two Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophies, and three Hart Trophy nods of their own.
While the parallels were drawn long ago – Crosby becoming yet another stoic, Canadian captain persevering through injuries, with Malkin the slick-handed European dynamo – the past two seasons have made such comparisons entirely unavoidable, as the Penguins once again earned back-to-back championships with their star duo leading the way.
Of all the championship performances between the four stars, ‘Le Magnifique’ remains the unmatched leader of the elite bunch, scoring at a staggering clip of 1.91 points per game (44 points in 23 games) during the first of his two runs, before coming up with 2.27 points per game (34 points in 15 games) the next time around.
Malkin and Crosby split the difference in terms of leading the club through their Cup wins. The first of the three campaigns saw Malkin win the Conn Smythe Trophy while putting up a dominant 1.50 points per game (36 points in 24 games) – the closest either he or Crosby have come to reaching Lemieux’s championship benchmark – before Crosby snagged the playoff MVP nod during both years of the back-to-back stretch.