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Throwback: The Hockey News 1977-78 Yearbook review

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09-03-2012, 05:08 PM
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iamjs
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Throwback: The Hockey News 1977-78 Yearbook review

Unboxed a bunch of THN Yearbooks from my move and thought it would be an interesting look 10-15 years later (since the collection goes back to 1995-96). I didn't know this one was in there, which is from 1977-78.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Second place is the best they can hope for

The Pittsburgh Penguins loafed through the 1976-77 season, alternating between scoring goals and fighting with their coach, Kenny Schinkel. No one kept track of which the Penguins did more of - score or fight with Schinkel - but after the season ended, Shink voluntarily acquiesced his position as acoh and remained as personnel coordinator, a job for which he is well qualified. Succeeding Schinkel is Johnny Wilson, a "tough guy" who coached the Colorado Rockies in 1976-77.

The Penguins have always had an ability to score, and they dod so 240 times last season while allowing 252 goals. They were one game over .500, with a record of 34-33-13, and they finished two points behind the Los Angeles Kings in the battle for second place in the Norris Division.

For the Penguins, the surprise of the 1976-77 season was goalie Dunc Wilson, who was obtained in late September on waivers from the New York Rangers. Dunc played in 45 games for the Pens, finished the year with a respectable 2.95 goals-against average as compared to partner Dennis Herron's 2.94 in 36 games.

Up front, Jean Pronovost and Pierre Larouche, both of whom were happy 50-goal scorers in 1975-76, dropped to 33 and 29 respectively and suddenly became very unhappy. Pronovost demanded that the Penguins "trade me somewhere where I'll be appreciated." Pronovost might have felt more appreciated if his point production for 1976-77 (64) more closely matched his point total for 1975-76 (104)

Larouche, the 21-year old phenom, scored 111 points in 1975-76 but last season managed only 63 while constantly bickering with Schinkel about his inability - in Schinkel's view - to work hard in practices. At one point, Pierre was even demoted to the Penguins' farm system in Hershey, PA, although he never reported. All the bad publicity Larouche received last year has apparently had some effect on him, however, for after the unpleasantness was over, he admitted "I learned a lot from the experience, I didn't like being on the outs with my teammates and I came to realize that hockey is a team game."

Syl Apps also loaded thought the 1976-77 season, dropping in production from 99 points in 1975-76 to 61 last year. Apps still plays on a line with Pronovost and either Bob "Battleship" Kelly or team captain Ron Schock (who can also play center) on the left side. Larouche played with Rick Kehoe and Mike Corrigan, but the line that generated all the excitement was the third trio, composed of youngsters Greg Malone, Blair Chapman, and Wayne Bianchin.

On defense, the Pens looked to veteran Ed Van Impe to provide leadership and protection but he was too heavy and only played in 10 games, Journeyman Don Awrey scquired from Montreal showed a lot of promise but rubbed management the wrong way and is again on the trading block. Dave Burrows is the best all-around Penguins defenseman and Ron Stackhouse is still as reliable as ever. Dennis Owchar and Mario Faubert round out the rest of the crew.

Johnny Wilson may get a surprise if Vic Hadfield, out all of last year after knee surgery, can make it back and if Lowell MacDonald, also the victim of knee surgery, emerges from training camp with a clean bill of health.

Owner Al Savill has received the financing that is necessary to keep the troubled franchise in the black and he is happy to have signed Wilson, who almost forged a playoff berth for the Colorado Rockies last year.

The Pens' high-powered attack has fizzled two years in a row in the playoffs, both times against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Defense is the answer in the regular season, but a better adjustment for the always tough playoff checking is also vital once - and if - those post-season games are reached. It was this same super checking that was the demise of the Penguins in the 1974-75 Stanley Cup quarterfinals, when the New York Islanders spotted the Penguins three games in their best-of-seven series then roaded back to win four in a row.

Pittsburgh is a better team than both the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals and is probably a better organized club than the Los Angeles Kings. For that reason, the Pens will finish in second place in the Norris Division - far behind the Canadiens.

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09-03-2012, 05:42 PM
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Burgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjs View Post
Pittsburgh is a better team than both the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals and is probably a better organized club than the Los Angeles Kings. For that reason, the Pens will finish in second place in the Norris Division - far behind the Canadiens.
And THN missed their projection by one year. The Pens did finish 2nd in the Norris in 78-79 and made it to the 2nd playoff round. But 77-78 turned out badly: Hadfield and van Impe retired. MacDonald and Stackhouse missed 51 and 30 games, respectively. The "uncoachable" Pierre Larouche, captain Ron Schock and Syl Apps were all traded (the latter effectively with a 1st round pick for.... Dave Schultz), the goalies' GAA ballooned up, and Pittsburgh finished only 4th in their division.

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09-03-2012, 06:57 PM
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I'll try to get more of these up later in the week. Found some more pre-95 yearbooks too (79, 92)

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09-03-2012, 07:24 PM
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Get Edmontons

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09-03-2012, 10:01 PM
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Get Edmontons
I have 78 and 79. Both mention Edmonton in the WHA, but I just missed Gretzky.

The 79 yearbook covers 1977-78 where Gretzky was still playing for the Greyhounds of the OMJHL.

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