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Pens Fans Skate with the Greats

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Rick Tocchet became legendary in Pittsburgh when he suffered a broken jaw in 1992 and continued to play. A special helmet shield was created to protect his fragile mouth. In fact, even with a broken jaw Tocchet wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves with Washington’s Kevin Hatcher.

Such gutsy performances have endeared Tocchet to the hearts of Penguins fans everywhere.

Rick Tocchet poses with fans at Skate with the Greats
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So when Brian Stanley, 27, had a chance to meet the Penguins alumnus at the second annual “Skate with the Greats” on Friday night at Penguins Pond at Highmark Stadium, he couldn’t pass on an opportunity.

“I asked Rick Tocchet how his jaw felt,” Stanley admitted. “He said it’s healing up pretty well.”

“Fans have been reminding me of a lot of memories,” Tocchet said. “Penguins fans are some of the classiest I’ve ever been around. They love the game and love the sport. They supported us in the 90s and they support the team now.”

And if you ever wondered how passionate Penguins fans are, consider this. One fan skated by said of Tocchet, “I am so pumped I met him. I have a tattoo of him on my arm.”

Tocchet was one of several alumni that took part in the event at Penguins Pond, which is presented by 84 Lumber. Over 500 fans lined up to skate, meet and get autographs from Tocchet, Mark Recchi, Bryan Trottier, Phil Bourque, Jay Caufield, Randy Hillier, Troy Loney, Kim Clackson, Eddie Johnston, Warren Young and more. Plus, current Penguins coaches Tony Granato and Gilles Meloche were on hand.

“My sister and I went to Southpointe when they would practice there (in the early 90s),” Liz Stanley, 27, said. “I remember shrieking because (Mario) Lemieux, Tocchet, (Jaromir) Jagr and everybody was there. And they signed anything we had. My sister had a sock signed. This is awesome to come here and meet them.”

And the feeling was mutual between alumni and fans.

“This is awesome for the alumni too,” Trottier said. “The fans supported us throughout the years. It’s nice to say thank you and take pictures. It’s fun sharing some memories and getting back on skates.”

“A lot of people my age got into hockey because of the success the team had in the early 90s. It’s pretty cool to see them,” Brian said. “The success the team has had in the last couple of years has brought out a lot of the fans that were huge into hockey in the early 90s like me. That’s pretty cool.”

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