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"Not Your Average Hockey Blog"
Butler, PA • United States • 28 Years Old • Male
Although, admittedly, my favorite memories of the Pittsburgh Penguins have come while the team was winning, in retrospect, I (unlike most of city of the Pittsburgh) actually enjoyed the Pre-Sidney Crosby "Dark Years". I can say I enjoyed them now, although at the time the future of the team was in serious jeopardy, but without these down years, the Pens wouldn't have been in the position to draft the players that led them to where they are today like Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby.

In fact, in 2002-03, one of the worst years in recent Pens history, I went to 30+ home games. Over the next few months, in addition to posting on the off-season activities of my favorite NHL franchise, I'll be posting on some of my favorite players and personalities of the so called "Dark Years". Here's post #1 -- Konstantin Koltsov.


Before Geno took #71 to superstar status, another Russian-born skater donned the now famous numerical sweater.

The Penguins drafted "K-Squared" 18th overall in the 1999 NHL Draft. In 2002-03, Koltsov racked up 39 goals and 21 assists in 65 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL, but his minor league success never translated into major NHL productivity. In 2003-04, he played in all 82 games, with 9 goals, 20 assists and a -30 rating. I remember the first time I saw "K-Squared" play. He was heralded when drafted as the "Russian Rocket II" because of similarities to Hall of Famer, Pavel Bure, and was one of the fastest, smoothest skaters I've ever seen...in warm ups. Unfortunately, with the puck on his stick, he was much less effective. Countless times per game, I'd leave my seat as #71 came soaring up the right wing only to see the puck slide harmlessly into the corner, or be whistled several feet wide of it's intended target.

Who knows...if Koltsov had been drafted a few years later, or produced enough to be resigned after the lockout, maybe he could have developed into part of a Russian super-duo with Evgeni Malkin or at least a functional bottom six forward/penalty killer. No matter, Konstantin Koltsov will be forever remembered as the fleet-footed Russian Right-Winger that whet our appetites for the #71 that was to come...at least to me and my friends!
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