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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been in the NHL since the 1967/68 season, and their famous black, gold and white uniform has been graced by some of ice hockey’s greatest players. During their relatively short existence as a team, the Penguins have captured three Stanley Cup victories, as well as been through two bankruptcies, making them an interesting proposition over the years for anyone interested in sports wagering.
One player who was there for some of the team’s early successes, when they reached the playoffs in 1970, was Michel Briere, a French-Canadian who, although only chosen at 26th in the 1969 draft, would play some superb hockey in a Penguins uniform.
Briere would have been a godsend today for anyone reviewing odds at www.wageronsports.com/wagering-strategy/nhl-hockey. The Montreal-born center, whose speed of body and mind more than compensated for his slight physique. In the 1969/70 season, in which the Penguins would reach the second round of the playoffs, Briere scored 12 goals and made 32 assists, his 44 points placing him third in the team’s overall scoring chart for that season. Anyone making the kind of bet US bookies would have offered on this player was sure to be delighted during that season.
Tragedy would strike soon, however, when the young Canadian was involved in a car crash on May 15, 1970, on the way to his hometown of Malartic. He would undergo four operations on his brain by the legendary surgeon Dr Claude Bertrand, but would eventually pass away in March 1971. His number 21 jersey was never worn again, and was officially retired by the Penguins in 2001. Players such as Sidney Crosby, who have been hospitalized with injury recently, should look to the life of Briere as inspiration for making their own comeback.
Another French-Canadian whose number has been retired is Mario Lemieux. He was drafted in 1984, when the Penguins were awarded first pick, so poor had they been in the preceding season. The then 19-year-old went on to score 100 points in his first season, enough to win him the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. Anyone laying a wager on hockey that year would have made money from his performances.
The 1987/88 season saw Lemieux pick up his first MVP award, helping to drive the Penguins to their first winning record in nine years. In 1991, he would help the club to a Stanley Cup title, despite being hampered by a back injury for much of the campaign. He ranks second only to Mike Bossy in the NHL’s all-time goals per game average, having notched 0.754 goals per game. Another Stanley Cup would follow in 1992.
Lemieux is now the principal owner of the club, having bought them out of bankruptcy in 1999. He remains the only person to have won the Stanley Cup as player and owner, following the club’s victory in 2009.
Recent big wins over the likes of the Ottawa Senators have shown that the glory days could well be on the way for the men from the Steel City, under the ownership of Lemieux. The betting odds are certainly shifting in their favor.
Anyone checking the NHL odds on betting sites, wanting to know how to wager on hockey, would do well to examine the career of Jean Pronovost. This former right wing played for the Penguins between 1968 and 1978, and scored 40 goals in a season four times during that period. He was also the first Penguin to score 100 points in a season, and to notch 50 goals.
Anyone who laid a wager on NHL games during the Penguins’ glory days of the early 1990s will know about Joe Mullen. This forward, known for his gentlemanly conduct, played in three NHL All-Star Games, and was also the first Penguin to register consecutive four-goal games, during the 1991/92 season.
Any list of the greatest Penguins would not be complete without Bryan Trottier though. Another Canadian hero, anyone wondering how to bet on sports during his career would have made money by betting on Trottier’s ability to score goals. The Penguins’ two Stanley Cup titles in the early 1990s were his fifth and sixth career championships. Of Native American descent, this star played international hockey for both his native Canada and the USA.