Joe Starkey is an award-winning reporter and columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has covered the Penguins since 1997 for the Tribune-Review and The Hockey News, following stories ranging from Mario Lemieux's greatest comeback to the team's second plunge into bankruptcy. In 2003 Starkey won a Golden Quill Award, presented by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, for his story on chewing tobacco abuse in baseball. He grew up in Buffalo, New York, attended graduate school at Duquesne University, and resides in Pittsburgh.
Tales from the Pittsburgh Penguinsby Joe Starkey, Mike Lange (Foreword by)
Readers have the chance to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the wildest, wackiest, most wonderful sports franchises that ever waddled its way across North America. If Penguins fans are not shedding tears of sadness, they are crying for joy or simply laughing so hard they cannot stop. The team's games once played on a station called WEEP, and its first mascot, a penguin named Pete, died of pneumonia. In Tales from the Pittsburgh Penguins, sportswriter Joe Starkey takes fans inside the locker rooms, onto the team buses (including the one defenseman Bryan "Buggsy" Watson hi-jacked) and behind the personalities that have shaped Penguins hockey since 1967. No franchise has survived more near-death experiences than this one, which twice went bankrupt and many times escaped the threat of relocation. In 1975 things were so tough that players had their postgame oranges taken away.
The bitter, often comical lows only made the ride to the top that much sweeter, and the Penguins have spent quality time at the summit. Mario Lemieux led the team to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships and later bought it out of bankruptcy court. Rarely has this franchise ever taken the middle ground. When it was bad, it was very, very bad. When it was good, it was sublime, graced with some of the greatest hockey personalities of the 20th Century. Hall of Fame coaches Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, and Scotty Bowman plied their trade in Pittsburgh, as did Hall of Fame talents such as Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis. The characters, too, were the cream of the crop. Wild men such as Eddie Shack, Brian "Spinner" Spencer, and Darius Kasparaitis provided entertainment in the best and worst of times, like the night Kasparaitis was tossed into a Calgary police car for jaywalking or the time Shack drove his dune buggy onto the ice at the Civic Arena. To borrow a phrase from legendary Penguins announcer Mike Lange, you'd have to be here to believe it. And even then, you'd probably have your doubts.
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