This story was originally written by Pittsburgh Press Sports Writer Dan Donovan and was published on March 24, 1976.
Ah, the life of a superstar. Fame, glamor, attention. Jean Pronovost should be swaggering in the spotlight as he sits on the edge of his first 50-goal season.
But Pronovost is more the homespun type, a guy who spent last night with his two kids at the theatre, watching "Jack and the Beanstalk."
"Everybody's talking about the 50th goal but me," Pronovost said. "I'm not nervous, but I probably will be when the game get's close."
Pronovost would like to slip his 50th goal past Boston Bruins goaltender Gilles Gilbert soon after the Penguins begin tonight's 7:35 game at the Civic Arena, but he is trying not to press.
"I just want to play this game to win it," Pronovost said. "I hope I can get the goal tonight and get it over with, but if I don't, I'm not going to pain. I can just do it the next game."
The 50th goal is the big one, a nice round number that established a goal scorer among the top players in the history of the game.
"After 50, the goals are just extras," Pronovost said., "but if I get a few of those extras, I am probably helping the team. And the team needs to keep going We've got to keep ahead of Los Angeles (in the Norris Division) and we've got to get ahead of them in wins because that's the tie breaker if we wind up tied up for home advantage in the playoffs."
It was typical of Pronovost to talk about his team on the brink of individual success, and it was typical of him to ramble on about another individual, Pierre Larouche, who could score his 100th point of the season tonight.
"Larouche is lucky God gave him so much talent," Pronovost said. "What more can I say? The kid's got it. He's got every talent you need to be a hockey player. He can score goals, he makes good plays and he can skate."
And he is only 20 years old. Ten years ago, when Pronovost was 20, he scored 21 goals for the Boston farm team club in Oklahoma City of the Central League. Larouche has 44 goals and 55 assists.
"The sky's the limit for Pierre," Pronovost said. "We don't know if he will get better, or if her will go downhill, but he has the potential to break Phil Esposito's scoring records (76 goals, 152 points). If he keeps going, if he reaches a higher peak, he may blow open the whole NHL scoring structure."
Montreal center Jacques Lemaire criticized Larouche's defensive play the last time the Penguins were in Montreal, but Pronovost shakes of those comments.
"That's partly because he came from the Quebec Junior League, where he scored 250 points," Pronovost said. "They put a big premium on points there, and that hurt him."
But Larouche is getting stronger defensively and his talents are essential to the team.
"We need him bad," Pronovost said. "He's the guy that when you need a goal badly, you send him out. He had a goals slump early in the season, where he didn't get many goals, just assists. Yet he could still get 50 this year. If he doesn't do it this year he will do it some other year."
This though, is the year Provnovost, who admits he may let glamor rub off and crack a bottle of champagne when he gets his 50th goal.
"I owe some to my wife," Pronovost said. "The pressure is on the wives as much as the players. She's part of the game, too."
Ice Chips-The bruins won't be an easy team for Pronovost or Larouche to get points against, for they are the fourth best defensive team in the NHL.
The Bruins are still tearing up despite the absence of injured defensemen Bobby Orr and Brad Park, who are both out after knee surgery. They are 29-5-4 in their last 38 games, and Gilbert is 19-2-0 in his last 21 starts.
Syl Apps has goals in four straight games, while Pierre Larouche has point in nine straight… Michel Plasse will make his 10th straight start tonight in goal.
The Penguins, who are 18-6-6 in their last 30 games, have given up only 13 goals in the five games since Ed Van Impe joined their defense… The Penguins obtained Pronovost from the Bruins for a first-round draft choice in 1968. Boston chose Frank Spring.