Twenty Years Later - Peter Taglianetti - 03-23-11

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

"Twenty Years Later" is a segment, with a highly unimaginative name, which will appear on Empty Netters throughout the 2010-11 season. We will examine the Penguins' 1990-91 season which led to the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. We will look back on games on a particular date and catch up with former players, coaches, executives and media members who were a part or around that team.

Today, we talk with former Penguins defenseman Peter Taglianetti.

Taglianetti came to the Penguins along with fellow defenseman Larry Murphy Dec. 11, 1990 in a trade which sent defensemen Chris Dahlquist and Jim Johnson to the North Stars. A rough and tumble defensive blue liner, Taglianetti finished that regular season by appearing in 39 regular season games for the Penguins and scoring four points while accumulating 57 penalty minutes.

In the postseason, "Tags" saw action in 19 games, recorded three assists and recorded 49 penalty minutes and helped the franchise claim its first Stanley Cup championship.

Taglianetti spent parts of the next five seasons with the Penguins and was a member of its second championship team the following season. He currently works for PJ Dick, Trumbull, and Lindy Paving.

What did you know about Pittsburgh the city and the Penguins organization prior to the trade?

"When I first started, I was in Winnipeg. My defense partner in Winnipeg was Randy Carlyle who played here and won the Norris Trophy here. So every time we came into Pittsburgh, we were all over the place. We didn’t just stay in the city or the hotel. We were in the suburbs. So when I first got here (after the trade from Minnesota) I had friends outside of hockey I met through him. And when I walked into the locker room, half the guys in the locker room were guys I played with or guys I played against in college and knew in Boston. So it was like just walking into a perfect situation. I couldn’t ask for a better scenario."

On the trade.

"That was my second trade in the matter of two months. I went from Winnipeg to Minnesota and Minnesota to here. It’s funny, you don’t even think about it. It just happens. You go. You play."

The much more famous trade was the deal which sent John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski to the Whalers in exchange for Ron Francis, Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson. That wasn't a popular trade at first?

"The guys they traded – Johnny Cullen, who literally led this team when Mario (Lemieux) was hurt – it was tough. (Cullen’s) a great guy. You hate to see guys leave but you also realize that things happen. It’s a business. You pick up Ronnie, Ulfie and Grant who fit into the locker room perfectly. Craig Patrick knew what he was doing. It worked out very well."

On Mario Lemieux coming back from a back infection in January.

"He gives you a whole different lift. But how much is he going to be able to play? That weight on everyone’s mind. Is he going to be able to play a full 60 minutes? Is he going to be able to go full speed?"

On the team winning the Patrick Division title with a 7-4 win at Detroit March 27, 1991, the first division title in franchise history.

"When we were in the locker room in Detroit, it was a big deal. It was a lot of fun to be around because it was something new and different. Guys like Bryan Trottier, Joey Mullen, Paul Coffey, they won Cups before. They knew what it was like, but for 98 percent of us, we didn’t know what was going on."

On "The Save" by Frank Pietrangelo during Game 6 of a Patrick Division semifinal series at New Jersey.

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"I was on the ice. I remember it very well. People say defense wins championships. I always say you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. That save, it was a great save, but one inch one way or the other, it’s in the net. Very rarely are you going to win a championship without some fluky things happening and that was one of them."

When did the team believe it could truly contend for the Stanley Cup?

"We ended up playing Boston in the (Wales) Conference finals. And we went down 2-0 early. And Kevin (Stevens) comes out with his statement, ‘We’re going to sweep them.’ It’s like, ‘Geez Kevin, that’s bulletin board material. What are you doing?’ He was adamant about it and we ended up sweeping them."

On playing his former team, the North Stars, in the Stanley Cup final?

"When I was there, it was a bad situation from ownership. It wasn’t fun for anybody. But once I got traded, they started playing better. I had hardly any friends on the team other than being acquaintances with them. When you get an opportunity go back and shove it down their throats, it was tremendous."

On playing for coach Bob Johnson.

"The only other coach I had like that was Lou Lamoriello. He knew what you were thinking before you thought it. He never yelled. He never raised his voice. Found something positive in everything. We’d lose 5-1 and he’d find something positive the next day in meetings."

(Photo: Penguins Hockey Cards)

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