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This will be the third installment of which Penguins player has the distinguished honor of being the best player to ever wear a specific number for the Penguins. We’ve already gone through number 3 and number 25, and this article will feature number 1 for the Penguins.

In case you’re new here or haven’t read the previous articles, here’s a quick introduction from the original post in 2017:

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There have been many memorable jersey numbers given out in the history of the Penguins franchise. Only two numbers in the Penguins franchise have been retired, No. 21 of Michel Briere, whose life was unfortunately cut short at the young age of 21 when he was involved in a car accident in 1970. No player has ever worn the No. 21 for the Penguins since, and Briere’s jersey was officially retired in January of 2001. The other number retired is of course the No. 66 of former great Penguins player, and current team owner, Mario Lemieux. There are no words necessary to explain the reasoning behind his jersey hanging in the rafters, as he’s one of the greatest athletes of all time. The next number to be retired is most likely going to be Jaromir Jagr’s famous No. 68, which there’s plenty of time to argue one way or the other as Jagr may play until he’s 68 if a team is willing to give him a contract.

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According to, the Penguins have given out 77 [80 as of 2019] out of 99 98 possible numbers. Numbers 1-52 have all been assigned to current or former Penguin players. That brings me to the question, who wore it best?

One of the cooler aspects in Pittsburgh Penguins’ franchise lore is how it’s basically impossible to have a jersey number retired. Many other teams have cheapened the tradition by giving the honor to players who didn’t play with them very long, or didn’t really have a tremendous impact.

In Pittsburgh there are only two numbers retired, as you might know. One is the #21 of Michel Briere, a talented youngster who sadly was involved in a car accident after his rookie NHL season and passed away.

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Pittsburgh Penguins v St. Louis Blues
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The other, of course, Mario Lemieux’s #66.

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So that’s the bar in Pittsburgh – it’s only been used to honor the franchise’s singularly most important person ever and then also to honor a tragic fatal accident.

But the Penguins should bend this sooner than later. It’s time to put #68 in the rafters of PPG Paints Arena and forever welcome Jaromir Jagr fully back into the family.

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Jagr’s accomplishments merit it — he scored 1,079 regular season points with Pittsburgh in 809 games. He won the Art Ross trophy as the league’s leading scorer five times out of his eleven seasons with the Pens, which is just an astounding achievement. By comparison to modern day greats, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin only have two Art Ross’s a piece, Jagr’s got more than those two combined.

Jagr remains as the Pens all-time leader in game-winning goals with 78 (though Malkin currently has 68 and Crosby has 60).

Jagr helped the team to their first two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 and added a few MVP trophies as well. Simply put, Jagr was the best player in the NHL in the 1990’s during his stint in Pittsburgh.

And, of course, he famously had a heroic performance in a potentially franchise-saving event helping the number 8 seeded Pens to upset the number one seeded New Jersey Devils (themselves at the height of their powers) to give the bankruptcy-bound Pens franchise more revenue and enough to keep afloat through the darkest of times.

According to, twenty-two players have donned the No 1 jersey for the Penguins starting with Hank Bassen in the Penguins’ inaugural season in 1967 to Casey DeSmith who currently wears the number for Pittsburgh. Not surprisingly, each player to wear the number has been a goaltender. There are several well-known names on this list that will certainly bring back a nostalgic feeling.

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The list will go in chronological order and will only feature players who played in 25 or more games for the Penguins while wearing the number. Be sure to vote on which player you think wore it the best at the end and feel free to explain why in the comment section!

Hank Bassen, 1967-68
25 GP, 7-10-3, .909 SV%, 2.87 GAA, 1 shutout

Traded to Pittsburgh on September 7, 1967 by Detroit for goalie Roy Edwards. Edwards would be claimed on waivers by Pittsburgh in 1971 and would go on to play in 15 games for the Penguins in 1971-72 while wearing No. 1. Edwards would then be traded by Pittsburgh back to Detroit on October 6, 1972 for cash.
First player to wear No. 1 for the Penguins.
Played his final year in the NHL with Pittsburgh in 1968 at the age of 35.
Played 157 games in 9 seasons with three teams (DET, CHI, PIT) going 47-65-31 with a .899 SV% and 2.98 GAA with 5 shutouts.
Traded in package deal on July 23, 1957 from Chicago to Detroit for Hall of Fame forward Ted Lindsay and Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall.
His son, Bob Bassen, played 765 regular season games and 93 playoff games in the NHL over 15 seasons with six teams.

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Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann resumed practicing Thursday in Cranberry. He missed Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche because of an undisclosed injury.

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“He had a good practice,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “His status is the same. He’s day-to-day, so he’ll be a game-time decision (Friday). But certainly his practice today was encouraging.”

Said McCann: “A lot better. Just kind of a nagging injury that’s been bothering for me a bit here.

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“It’s frustrating. I don’t want to miss any games, and I want to be out there helping the team.”

In six games this season, McCann has three points (two goals, one assist).

With McCann absent, the Penguins shuffled their lines against Colorado by promoting Sam Lafferty from fourth-line right wing to second-line center in place of McCann. Adam Johnson flipped from left to right wing on the fourth line, and that prompted defenseman Juuso Riikola to make his season debut as left wing on that line.

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He had a few less-than-graceful moments, including a shift where he was late in defending Avalanche forward Matt Calvert on the opening goal during the first period and when he slid into goaltender Matt Murray later in the period. Given Murray’s considerable injury history, there were a few anxious moments until Murray recovered to his skates without any apparent issue.

It’s an interconference clash on the ice in the Steel City between a pair of teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The struggling Dallas Stars are on the on the road as they make the trip to face the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night. Dallas was dumped 3-2 on the road by Columbus Wednesday night in their last contest. Pittsburgh scratched out a 3-2 overtime win over previously unbeaten Colorado at home Wednesday night in their last game. The Penguins won both meetings last season, including a 3-2 road win in the most recent matchup on March 23, 2019.

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Dallas Stars Looking to Earn Road Win
Dallas came up on the short end of another one goal game as they were defeated in Columbus Wednesday night. The Stars have played six one-goal games in their eight contests so far this season and stand just 1-4-1 in those games. Dallas is dead last in the league in scoring as they average 1.88 goals per game this season. The Stars are 16th in the league in goals against as they are allowing 3.13 goals per contest. Dallas is 29th in the league on the power play as they have cashed in on 4.2 percent of their chances with the man advantage this season. The Stars are 17th in the league in penalty killing as they successfully get through 80.6 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.
Rads sets the table for Miro in the slot! #DALvsCBJ | #GoStars

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— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 16, 2019
The Stars hung tough but once again ended up one goal short on the scoreboard when all was said and done. Dallas held a 16-11 edge in shots in the opening period but skated off down 2-1 after 20 minutes of play. The Stars spotted Columbus the first two goals of the game before Miro Heiskanen got Dallas on the board with his second of the season at 18:08 off assists from Alexander Radulov and Taylor Fedun. In the second period, the Stars were outshot 10-5 but neither team scored, leaving them down a goal after 40 minutes. The final period saw Dallas outshot 14-11 and both teams scored once, leaving them down a goal at the final horn. After falling behind 3-1, Joe Pavelski scored his first of the year at 19:55 off assists from Tyler Seguin and Radulov to get Dallas within a goal. It was too little, too late for the Stars, who simply ran out of time. Ben Bishop made 32 saves for the Stars in the loss: Dallas was outshot 35-32 in the contest.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Seek Fifth Straight Victory
Pittsburgh earned their fourth straight win as they gutted out a win in overtime against the previously undefeated Avalanche at home. The Penguins look for a fifth straight win as they try to climb toward the top of the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh is tied for second in goals for as they average four goals per game on the year. The Penguins are tied for 6th in the league in goals against as they allow 2.57 goals per contest. Pittsburgh is 13th in the league in power play success this season as they have converted 23.1 percent of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Penguins are tied for 12th in penalty killing as they are successful in 82.4 percent of their shorthanded situations.
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— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 17, 2019
The Penguins were in a tight contest all the way with the Avalanche and the game wasn’t decided until the extra session. Pittsburgh held a 12-7 advantage in shots in the opening period but skated off tied at one after 20 minutes of the play. The Penguins gave up the first goal of the game before Sidney Crosby tied the game with his fourth goal at the 17:22 mark of the period. Justin Schultz and Marcus Pettersson drew the assists on the goal. In the middle period, the shots were even at nine but the Penguins scored the lone goal of the period to take a 2-1 lead. Jake Guentzel gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead with his fifth of the year at 15:30: Crosby and Dominik Simon drew the assists on the goal. In the third period, the Penguins were outshot 11-10 and gave up the lone goal to tie the game at two and force overtime. During the extra session, Pittsburgh had a 2-1 edge in shots and they potted the winner: Brandon Tanev scored his first of the year, shorthanded, at 3:57 of overtime to skate off with the victory. Marty Murray made 26 saves in the victory of the Penguins, who owned a 32-28 edge in shots on goal in the game.

Riikola logged 6 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time on 11 shifts and was credited with three hits, not including his collision with Murray.

“I was trying to do my best,” a typically succinct Riikola said.

Said Sullivan: “He did a good job. It allows us to use him on the second power-play (unit) as well on the point. We think he’s pretty good there. I thought he played well. What made us think that he could play that role is that we’ve watched it in practice a handful of times. He can really skate. And he’s got good sense. We thought we would try it. We thought he played very well.”

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The plan to use him in that role wasn’t hatched Wednesday’s morning. Given the team’s rash of injures among the forwards and the decision to keep nine healthy defensemen, the Penguins have been toying with the idea of deploying him as a forward for at least a week.

“I was ready. I was ready,” said Riikola, who had been skating as forward on occasion in practice going back to the presason. “When we were (on last weekend’s road) trip, there was the same type of thing. If someone is not able to play, then I will be a forward.”

If McCann returns for Friday’s home game against the Dallas Stars, presumably Riikola’s aspirations of being left winger will go into a holding pattern.

On Thursday, Riikola rotated with fellow defensemen Erik Gudbranson, Jack Johnson, John Marino and Chad Ruhwedel on a third pairing.