Penguins

Who wore it best: No. 57, Shawn Heins

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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: Shawn Heins
Number: 57
Position: Defenseman
Born: December 24, 1973, in Eganville, Ontario
Seasons with Penguins: 2002-03
Statistics with Penguins: 27 games, 1 goal, 1 assist in regular season

[caption id="attachment_680226" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Not Shawn Heins. - HEINZ.COM[/caption]

WHY HEINS?

This series is of course, subjective. As I said before, we took a number of factors into consideration. Skill, of course. Personal accolades, value to the team, Stanley Cups, time spent in the organization, popularity with fans — they all went into these decisions.

For No. 57, the reason why the player chose the number came into play.

The Penguins acquired Shawn Heins from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 9, 2003, in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Heins was 29 and only appeared in 81 games for the Sharks over his five seasons in the organization. Pittsburgh was his fresh start.

In the Sharks organization, Heins had always worn No. 23. He wanted to change numbers as part of his fresh start, and the perfect opportunity presented itself. Heins chose 57 for Heinz 57, a perfect tribute to an iconic company in his new city.

Heins scored his first goal as a Penguin two weeks after the trade.

The Penguins were hosting the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 23. After goals from Rico Fata and Pavol Demitra, the game was tied at the end of regulation. With 23 seconds remaining in overtime, Mario Lemieux fed Heins the puck from the bottom of the left circle. Heins' backhander sent the disc between the legs of Blues goaltender Brent Johnson, and the Penguins clinched their second overtime win in three games. Heins' game-winner earned him the first star of the game.

It would be the only goal Heins scored in his 27 games with Pittsburgh.

The Penguins didn't re-sign Heins that summer, and he was picked up by the Atlanta Thrashers.

WHAT'S HE DOING NOW?

Heins split the 2003-04 season between the Thrashers and their AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves.

Heins went to the DEL during the 2004-05 lockout and never returned to play in North America. After two seasons in the DEL, Heins spent seven years in the Swiss NLA with HC Fribourg-Gottéron, a team he captained for four years. Heins was forced to retire after the 2012-13 season due to post-concussion symptoms.

As of 2017, Heins lives in Florida and still suffers from neck pain and dizziness from his hockey career.

Heins remains Fribourg-Gottéron's all-time leader in penalty minutes, amassing 698 in 287 games. Fribourg-Gottéron retired Heins' No. 44 in 2017.

IT WAS SPOKEN

"When I came here and somebody approached me with the idea of wearing number 57, I thought, sure, let's have some fun with it. I'm ready to start having some fun in hockey again." -- Heins on his number

"I don't think so. He's pretty good and pretty popular. I'm just trying to be a complete player in the NHL and work hard and have fun, and hopefully to help this team get back on track." -- Heins on if he's going to be more popular than Hines Ward

"I knew Johnson would be watching Mario, and I just wanted to get it to the net as quickly as possible. And, fortunately, it went in." -- Heins on his first and only goal as a Penguin

HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 57:

Chris Ferraro
Marcel Goc
David Perron

ANY DEBATE?

Not really. Goc wore the number the longest, for 55 games. Perron is the best to wear the number, but he only wore it for 43 games in his second season with the Penguins. None of the other options really stand out. Heins only wore it for 27 games, but his reasoning for the number gives him the win.

Tomorrow: Chris Bradford has No. 58. This is an easy one.
Yesterday: Sergei Zubov

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