Welcome to our series on who wore each number best for the Penguins.
The idea is being openly borrowed from our new hockey writer, Cody Tucker, and his project at the Lansing State Journal covering all the uniform numbers worn through Michigan State football history, one that’s been well received by their readers and prompted heavy discussion and debate.
Under the organization of Taylor Haase, and following the voting of a big chunk of our staff, we’ll publish one new one each day until completion, which should be right around the start of training camp.
Name: Troy Loney
Position: Left wing
Born: Sept. 21, 1963, in Bow Island, Alberta
Seasons with Penguins: 1983-93
Statistics with Penguins: 532 games, 69 goals, 100 assists in regular season; 67 games, 8 goals, 14 assists in playoffs
It takes an awful lot of high-end talent to win the Stanley Cup once, let alone twice in a row. The Penguins of 1991 and ’92 certainly had plenty of that.
But it also takes grit, character and intangibles that can’t be revealed on a stat sheet. The latter are what Loney brought to Pittsburgh’s first two championship teams.
“Big Red” was selected by the Penguins in the third round (52nd overall) in the ’82 draft and worked his way up through the organization and established himself as a physical presence in the corners and in front of the net. Using his size, 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, he could overwhelm opponents with his strength. He also excelled on the penalty kill.
Though never more than a role player and not the fleetest of foot, he had surprisingly soft hands and hit double-digits in goals four times in his Penguins career. That’s the same number of times he topped 100 penalty minutes.
Though not an enforcer, he was a willing combatant, dropping his gloves 60 times in his career.
A 0.32 points per game producer in the regular season, Loney saved some of his best work for the postseason.
Late in Game 5 of the ’91 Final, with the Penguins nursing a one-goal lead, Loney scored at 18:21 of the third period to secure victory, jamming the puck past North Stars goalie Brian Hayward and setting the stage for Pittsburgh to win its first Cup two nights later:
A year later, Loney scored four times in the playoffs, including Game 4 of the second round against the Rangers (the game after Adam Graves‘ infamous slash to Mario Lemieux‘s wrist). Moments after Ron Francis‘ long-distance knuckler beat Mike Richter, Jaromir Jagr set up Loney for the game-tying goal at 11:52 of the third:
Francis later scored the winner in overtime as the Penguins went on to defend their title.
Loney’s production dipped in the ill-fated 1992-93 season and he was left exposed in the ’93 expansion draft where he was claimed by Anaheim. Loney would serve as the first captain in Ducks history and in his lone season in Orange County, he scored a career-high 13 goals. He split his last season, 1994-95, between the Islanders and Rangers and retired at the age of 31.
WHAT’S HE DOING NOW?
Loney, 54, continues to make his home in the Pittsburgh area. Last month, Loney and his wife, Aafke, sold their interest in the Youngstown Phantoms, a USHL franchise that they had been part of for the past four years. The couple have four children. Their son, Ty Loney, spent two seasons playing for the Phantoms before moving on to the University of Denver and embarking on a professional career. Last season, the 26-year-old split time between Adirondack of the ECHL and Syracuse and Bakersfield of the AHL. The one-time Penguins prospect will play in Austria next season.
IT WAS SPOKEN
“I remember the morning skate talking to (Joey Mullen). He said, ‘You feel this? I’ve never felt this nervous before.’ I said, ‘Yeah, we’re just going to smoke them tonight.’” — Loney, recalling conversation prior to Game 6 against Minnesota in 1991.
“It’s hard to keep that much emotion all the time. Everyone wants a piece of you during the year, so you burn quite a bit of it. We were really good about turning the switch off when a game was done. We weren’t having a hundred beers, but we were relaxing and mellowing out.” — Loney, on Penguins’ championship teams’ camaraderie and ability to compartmentalize.
HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 24
None. Cooke was a big part of the 2009 title team and Moran had a nice run in Pittsburgh, but none had the impact on the team or the region like Loney.
Tomorrow: Bradford has No. 25.
Yesterday: Randy Hillier