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Penguins Notebook: ‘The Animal’ is Pretty Tame … Off the Ice, Anyway



Dennis Bonvie was not the most gifted player to ever pull on a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater.

He wasn’t even the most gifted tough guy to play for them.

Bonvie played a total of 31 games for the Penguins during the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, and his totals of goals and assists matched up perfectly. He had exactly zero of both.

Of course, he also piled up 80 penalty minutes during that span, which offers a little insight on why he had come to be known as “The Animal” earlier in his career.

While his skills didn’t scare many opponents — he finished with one goal and two assists in 92 career NHL games — his fists certainly did; Bonvie was one of the game’s most feared enforcers for much of the 1990s and 2000s, including when he accumulated a staggering 522 penalty minutes with Hamilton of the American Hockey League in 1996-97.

Bonvie spent most of his career in the minors, including three full seasons and parts of two others with the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.

But Bonvie has proven to be far more accomplished at evaluating guys who play the game than he was at playing it himself, as evidenced by his promotion Wednesday to director of pro scouting for Boston.

Bonvie, one of the most popular players in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history, moved from playing to scouting in 2009, when he was hired by Chicago. He remained with the Blackhawks until he joined the Bruins in 2015.

Dennis Bonvie’s on-ice persona aside, he reinforces the notion that hockey’s most ferocious fighters tend to be among its most friendly and outgoing figures when their playing days are over.

The same is true of Archie Henderson, who recently retired as director of pro scouting in Edmonton.

Henderson also spent most of his playing career in the minors — he got into just 23 NHL games — but he made sure people noticed when he broke into the pros in 1977-78, picking up 419 penalty minutes with the Port Huron Flags of the Interational Hockey League.

Steadle Leaves Penguins

The Penguins’ medical staff took a hit this week when athletic trainer Patrick Steadle, who had been with the organization for 23 years, left for a position at UPMC Sports Medicine that will include duties at Point Park University.

Steadle, who worked alongside head athletic trainer Chris Stewart, spent 14 seasons in Wilkes-Barre before moving up to the parent club.

The Penguins have not announced Steadle’s departure or their plans for replacing him.

Splitting the Difference

The Penguins will play split-squad exhibition games for the first time in recent memory — or perhaps in franchise history — Sept. 25.

One group will face Columbus at 1 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena, while another will meet the Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.

Those will be the first two games of six on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ exhibition schedule.

Split-squad games have been a fixture in baseball’s spring training for years, and seem to be catching on in the NHL now.

Per a schedule released by the league office, there will be no fewer than six sets of them during the coming preseason, all during the first week of exhibition play.

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Vince Gori
Vince Gori
1 month ago

Remember him pretty well, his was a capable enforcer/deterrent at the time we needed one. His enthusiasm was reflected in his facial features.