Penguins notebook: Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr agree Howe was greatest
Nine Penguins and former Penguins made the cut when the NHL announced its list of the 100 greatest players in league history Friday night in Los Angeles.
Captain Sidney Crosby and former Penguins winger Jaromir Jagr were among six active players on the list, joining Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
Evgeni Malkin did not make the list, which was selected by a panel of executives, media members and former players on the occasion of the league’s 100th anniversary. The players on the list were not ranked in order.
In addition to Jagr, four other members of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship teams of the 1990s were included — Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis and Bryan Trottier. Luc Robitaille was also on the list.
Two players who spent time with the Penguins during the early days of the franchise, Andy Bathgate and Tim Horton, also made the top 100.
While the list is sure to spark debate, the game’s three greatest living players did not disagree on two key points when they met the media Friday.
Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr called Gordie Howe the greatest player to ever lace up skates.
“He was truly a great ambassador for the game. He loved the game,” Lemieux said. “He played until he was 51 years old, and that’s pretty rare these days except for Jagr, my buddy.”
They also agreed Crosby is the top active player in the game.
“Now he’s starting to score some goals this year, leading the league in scoring,” Lemieux said. “I’ve been very lucky to have him at my house for a few years as a tenant, and to be able to watch him every night is very special.”
During the NHL’s All-Star skills competition Saturday night, Crosby will be taking part in the most star-studded event of all.
Crosby will be one of five No. 1 overall draft picks in the accuracy shooting contest, joining Toronto’s Auston Matthews, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Chicago’s Patrick Kane and the Islanders’ John Tavares.
Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo and Los Angeles’ Jeff Carter also will compete.
The Penguins made a roster move Friday, sending center Carter Rowney back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Rowney was in the lineup for the Baby Pens in Utica on Friday night.
Rowney was called up Thursday morning when it was unclear whether Patric Hornqvist would be able to play in Boston that night. Hornqvist played through a lower-body injury, so Rowney was a healthy scratch.
Whether the Penguins will need to call up Rowney or another Wilkes-Barre/Scranton player when the all-star break ends Monday depends on the status of Evgeni Malkin, who is out with a lower-body injury.
If Malkin is on track to play Tuesday against Nashville, no call-up will be required.