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.
Name: Petr Klima
Position: Right wing
Born: December 3, 1964 in Chomutov, Czechoslovakia
Seasons with Penguins: 1996-97
Statistics with Penguins: 9 games, 1 goal, 3 assists in regular season
Petr Klima defected from Czechoslovakia in 1985 and joined the Detroit Red Wings, wearing the number 85 to mark the year he defected. Over eight seasons with the Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers, he developed a reputation of being a troublemaker, along with his Detroit roommate Bob Probert. Klima was arrested twice for DUIs, got involved with drugs, and was known as a lazy player. Still, he had a major role on the Oilers' 1990 Stanley Cup team.
Klima played two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1996. After only eight games with Los Angeles, the Kings traded Klima to the Penguins for a conditional draft pick. Klima did not meet the conditions specified in the trade agreement and the conditional pick was forfeited.
After acquiring Klima, WTAE host Rocco Pendola joked that Mario Lemieux pushed for the Penguins to acquire Klima "because Lemieux's wife and Klima's wife were lesbian lovers." According to Pendola's book, Ron Francis was listening at the time, reported the comment to owner Howard Baldwin, and Baldwin passed the information on to Lemieux. Lemieux's lawyers acquired the tape, and threatened so sue, but the whole thing never amounted to anything.
Klima scored one goal and three assists in nine games for Pittsburgh. The Penguins tried to re-assign Klima to IHL Cleveland in December, and he refused to report. He eventually made it to Cleveland, and scored seven goals and 14 assists in 19 games. On Feb. 1, 1997, the Penguins bought out the remainder of Klima's contract.
The Oilers re-signed Klima as a free agent, and he finished the 1996-97 season in Edmonton. Klima played the 1997-98 season in Germany, then returned to the NHL to play for Detroit in 1998-99. He did not play in the 1999-00 or 2000-01 seasons, then joined HC Litvinov of the Czech league, his team prior to his defection. After two years with Litvinov, Klima retired.
WHAT’S HE DOING NOW?
[caption id="attachment_689515" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Petr Klima. -- DALIBOR KACHLIK[/caption]
Last season, Klima, 53, transitioned to coaching. He was head coach of SK Kadan of the Czech2 league. This season, Klima will be the Sports Manager and assistant coach for Kadan.
[caption id="attachment_689514" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Kelly and Kevin Klima. -- TUCSON ROADRUNNERS[/caption]
Klima has twin 21-year-old sons, Kelly and Kevin. After four years together in the QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Saguenéens, the pair will make their professional debut this season after signing matching AHL deals with the Tucson Roadrunners.
IT WAS SPOKEN
"If Pittsburgh was the only team in the world to play hockey with, I wouldn't go. I'd rather just work in a car wash." -- Klima after being released by the Penguins
"It's perfect. There's someone to talk to." -- Jagr on fellow Czech Klima being on the team
HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 85:
Nope. Nobody else wore No. 85.
Tomorrow: Dejan has No. 87.
Yesterday: Marty Straka
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