Pittsburgh Penguins History: The Future Coach and the Farmhand

Pittsburgh Penguins, Michel Terrien. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Michel Terrien. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Before the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs battling in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, an incident transpired involving a future Penguins coach and a steady farmhand.

You might be wondering what Michel Therrien has to do with the Pittsburgh Penguins before his arrival to the organization in 2003-04.

Trust us it will make sense soon, keep reading.

Weird Connection

As unlikely as a hero as Dan Kesa had been in Game 1 for the Penguins, the Leafs secured a 4-2 victory in Game 2 with the help of a hero of their own in Lonny Bohonos.

Bohonos was a call up from the St. John’s Maple Leafs of the AHL and was just a week removed from getting into a bar fight with the coach of the Fredericton Canadiens. The Leafs and Canadiens had just finished a series in the playoffs.

The fight stemmed from some disparaging comments made by the coach towards a good friend and linemate of Bohonos, named Mark Deyell.

Deyell was on the receiving end of eye injury that ended his career, and a comment was floated that he “got what he deserved”.

You might remember the name of that Canadiens coach, as he would lead the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup final of the Sidney Crosby era, his name Michel Therrien.

The fight spilled out to the street from the bar and left Bohonos facing assault charges. The charges were resolved in Jun.1999 after Therrien wrote a letter to the crown attorney, asking for them to be dropped. Bohonos had to sign a bond to that forced him to stay away from the Therrien and the Canadiens for nine months.

The top line of Mats Sundin, Steve Thomas, and Bohonos combined for eight points in the game, as Kip Miller and German Titov were the goal scorers for the Penguins.

It ironically took the Leafs sixty-six minutes to break Tom Barrasso‘s shut-out streak including the Game 1 shutout.

With the win, the Leafs squared the series up at a game-a-piece.

Last Dance?

Fast forward three games for what could have been the final game for the Penguins in Pittsburgh, a former ally struck twice to give the Leafs a 4-3 victory in the game and a 4-2 series win.

The Penguins ownership situation was a mess and there were many options on the table including relocation and new ownership group taking control that was led by an old friend.

With his first two goals of the playoffs from former Penguin Garry Valk (1996-1998) scored the go-ahead goal to make the score 3-2 and then secured the series with his second goal in overtime.

Valk, along with Yanic Perreault and Sergei Berezin, made up Toronto’s tenacious third line and owned the Penguins in every zone.

There are several reasons why the Penguins lost in six games to the Maple Leafs in the 1999 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Some of which were:

But probably the biggest reason the Penguins dropped the series was that the better team won.

What do you think of the future coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ actions? Drop them in the box below!