Pittsburgh Penguins History: Most Fatherly Players

Pittsburgh Penguins, Joe Mullen. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Joe Mullen. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

A look at the most fatherly players in Pittsburgh Penguins history.

Since the inception of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there have been many players we could consider as “fatherly”, and generally speaking the older you are the wiser you become, so here is a look back at what we learned from just a few of the oldest players to ever play with the Penguins.

Note: Patrick Marleau gets and honorable mention as technically he is the third oldest player to play for the Penguins at 40 years and 177 days, but since he has only appeared in eight games so far we left him off our list.

Joe Mullen

Mullen is simply one of the finest American born players to ever play the game. Mullen was the first American to score 500 goals and reach 1000 points and finished his career following the 1996-97 season with 1063 points in 1062 games.

Mullen was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams (Calgary, Pittsburgh) and began his coaching career with Penguins in the year 2000 and was an active coach up until 2017.

Mullen was 40 years and 46 days old when he played his final regular-season on Apr. 13, 1997, vs. Boston, and has the distinction of being the fourth oldest player to play with the Penguins.

The best “fatherly” advice we can learn from Mullen is – Just keep moving and just do your best.

Mario Lemieux

Lemieux endured a lot of pain through his 17-year career, which included a battle with cancer, atrial fibrillation, hip flexor issues, and a litany of back injuries, surgeries, and other incidental brushes with pain.

Despite the unimaginable frustration and fear Lemieux felt through all his ailments, he still managed to put together one of the finest careers in professional hockey history and helped turn the Penguins into a perennial threat to win the Stanley Cup.

At 40 years and 72 days, for his final game on Dec 16. 2005 against Buffalo, Lemieux is the third oldest player to play for the Penguins.

The best “fatherly” advice we can take from Lemieux is simple – This too shall pass.

Gary Roberts

The Penguins were looking to add some veteran leadership to a stable of young stars on the cusp of greatness when they picked up Roberts in Feb. 2007 from the Florida Panthers for Noah Welch.

Roberts appeared in 57 regular seasons over two seasons with the Penguins and led the team to their first conference finals appearance of the Sidney Crosby era in 2008.

When Roberts and the Penguins squared off against the Flyers on Apr. 6, 2008, Roberts was 41 years and 319 days old, which is good for number two on our list of the oldest Penguins players.

The best “fatherly” advice we can take from Roberts’ tenure with the Penguins is – Play every game as it’s your last.

Matt Cullen 

Cullen signed with the Penguins on Aug. 6, 2015, and immediately fond favor by both the fans and organization. Cullen played a pivotal roll in the Pittsburgh Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup championships and adopted the moniker of “dad”, for his ability to lead and mentor the younger players on the team.

Following a season with Minnesota, Cullen returned to his “adopted home” for one final run with Pittsburgh, before retiring at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Cullen’s final regular-season game on Apr. 6, 2019, vs. the New York Rangers was at the ripe age of 42 years and 155 days, firmly gripping the record for the oldest player to play for the Penguins.

The best “fatherly” advice we can take from Cullen’s tenure with the Penguins is – It’s the journey, not the miles that matter.