Malone was a big part of the Penguins for four seasons, helping them to the Stanley Cup Final last year. The Pittsburgh native grew up watching the Penguins of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Rick Tocchet. His dad, Greg, had starred for the Penguins in the 1970s and held a front-office position for many years, including Malone's first couple seasons.
But Malone, 29, was a free agent last summer, as was the Penguins' late-season addition, Marian Hossa. Signing Hossa was the team's No. 1 goal and all other decisions had to await the outcome of that matter. The Penguins realized Malone wasn't going to wait on the Hossa matter and would test free agency.
So, they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lighting, with Gary Roberts, for a conditional pick in the 2009 Entry Draft.
The Lighting subsequently gave Malone a seven-year contact and he had a pretty good season in 2008-09. Malone had 26 goals and 45 points in 70 games, very similar to the year before when he had 27 goals and 51 points in 77 games. But the Lightning struggled mightily. So, Malone is watching the playoffs and rooting for the Penguins and his old teammates Sidney Crosby, Max Talbot, Evgeni Malkin and the others. They still talk and he has no regrets.
"No, not really, maybe if I waited to see if Hossa would have signed," Malone said. "No regrets. In life, everything happens for a reason. I still talk to them regularly and wish them luck. I watched their game (Monday) night. If they end up getting the job done this year, it would be great to see. I know those guys work hard, they're dedicated and I wish them the best."
Getting to the Stanley Cup Final last year was a huge thrill and a milestone for Malone, even if the Penguins lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games. Malone, though, had an even bigger thrill and milestone in February when his wife, Abby, gave birth to William Ryan Malone. He had his family in mind as free agency approached.
"Definitely. I was just looking for a fair deal," Malone said. "Nothing like that came about. It wasn't too hard to twist my arm to go down to Tampa Bay. As a result, my family is going to be secure. I worked hard my whole life, sacrificing things along the way, to get where I am today. To have my family, my son and my wife, be secure in their future, makes a move like this a little easier."