Penguins

Who wore it best: No. 45, Arron Asham

Arron Asham came to the Penguins from the Flyers, but it didn’t take fans long to warm up to the gritty veteran.

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 my organization, 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.

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Name: Arron Asham
Number: 45
Position: Right wing
Born: April 13, 1978, in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba
Seasons with Penguins: 2010-12
Statistics with Penguins: 108 games, 10 goals, 17 assists, 122 penalty minutes in regular season; 10 games, three goals, 12 penalty minutes in playoffs

Arron Asham and Jay Beagle. — AP PHOTO

WHY ASHAM?

Well, there weren’t many other options, but we’ll get to that later.

When the Penguins signed Arron Asham in 2010, their fans were already very familiar with the enforcer. After all, he had played in the Atlantic Division since 2002, and was coming off of a two-year stint with the Flyers. Needless to say, he wasn’t a popular guy in Pittsburgh prior to signing with the Penguins.

It didn’t take fans long to warm up to the gritty veteran.

Asham’s first year in Pittsburgh was marred by injuries, limiting him to only 44 games on the fourth line. When the playoffs came around, Asham stepped up. Tampa Bay eliminated Pittsburgh in seven games, but Asham led the team with three goals, and set a career-high four-game scoring streak. He, of course, led the forwards in hits as well, with 21.

Perhaps Asham’s most memorable (and controversial) moment as a Penguin came the following October. After a decisive win in a fight with Washington’s Jay Beagle, Asham skated off and made some gestures he later called “classless” in an apology:

The Penguins didn’t re-sign Asham following the 2011-12 season, and he signed a two-year contract with the New York Rangers, the fifth and final Atlantic Division team he played for.

WHAT’S HE DOING NOW?

Asham retired from professional hockey in 2013-14, playing his final season with the Rangers and their AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.

He played one season in 2015-16 for the Gander Flyers of the CWSHL, a senior A-level league based in Newfoundland and Labrador. Asham recorded 11 goals and 10 assists in 15 games, and three assists in three playoff games, as his Flyers lost in the CWSHL semi-finals.

His daughter, Oceane, plays hockey as well, and was named to the U16 Team Manitoba roster this summer.

Asham, now 40, was head coach of the pee-wee New York Junior Islanders in the Quebec International Tournament last February. He also participates in camps promoting hockey to aboriginal kids in Canada.

IT WAS SPOKEN

“You see a lot of good aboriginal players playing in small communities or in their own leagues on the reservations. But you don’t get any exposure there, so you have to play in the highly competitive city leagues.” — Asham on his path to the NHL as an aboriginal Canadian

“Obviously, I want to win, but I don’t want to go out there and hurt anyone. My gestures after it was done, I was into the game. It was uncalled for, classless on my part. I think those guys over there know I’m not that kind of guy to be going off, but it was a big game—I wanted to get my bench going. Classless move on my part.” — Asham apologizing for his gestures after the Beagle fight

HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 45

Mike Needham
Josh Archibald

ANY DEBATE?

No. A few people in the comments of the No. 39 article asked why Needham didn’t get an honorable mention for his contributions in five games in the 1992 run. He wore No. 45 during those games, so he gets a mention here for that. Archibald did play a handful of regular season games and four playoff games in the 2017 run, so he deserves a mention as well.

Tomorrow: I have No. 46
Yesterday: Brooks Orpik