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Penguins Blog: Funny (Crap) Jason Zucker Says (and Does)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker

For parts of three seasons, Jason Zucker was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. For other parts of those three seasons, he watched Penguins games from the trainer’s room, surgeon’s table, or his couch at home.

The player that former GM Jim Rutherford seemed to covet was, to be kind, a bust.

This column started as a look at Zucker’s contract status, in light of his significantly better production this season, but then, like a postgame chat with Zucker, it took a left turn. Instead of “Sh*t my Dad Says,” this became, “What Zucker says. And does.”

Zucker has filled PHN and Pittsburgh media with quotable headlines this season.

“I hated the game last year,” Zucker told PHN in November. “It was not fun. I didn’t enjoy it.”

This season, health and quips have followed.

His big personality has added a boisterous dynamic to the Penguins’ room that had been missing, and perhaps it’s made the dreariness of two brutal losing streaks a bit more bearable (or shortened them).

Several times this season, Zucker has provided viral content to PHN as we laugh along with his chirps on teammates. He and Bryan Rust have formed a comedy team worthy of a road show.

“I’m not sure what Rusty was doing there. The guy has fought his pillow about seven times in his career, and that’s about it. So it was just good to see him get that goal,” Zucker deadpanned about Rust scoring a power-play goal and then almost getting into a fight against the New York Rangers on Dec. 20.

Zucker is showing the skills that Rutherford desperately wanted as part of a Penguins revitalization. This season, he’s also showing the type of personality of which every team needs a couple. 

He’s a counter to the stale winds that have blown through the Pittsburgh Penguins this season.

His salute to Jaromir Jagr after scoring a goal in the robo-pigeon jersey went viral, and Jagr himself returned the salute via Instagram.

Pittsburgh Penguins, Jason Zucker goal celebration, Jaromir Jagr

 

Zucker quickly had a custom hat made to “honor” Brian Dumoulin early in the season (but denied making it, despite having an apparel line and being the only one with the hat. Rust wasn’t buying it, either, “You own a clothing company!” Rust yelled over).

 

Sunday night, he poked Jake Guentzel for paying off the goalie because Guentzel’s second goal was a massive blunder by Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka, who set up for the save — but lost his bearings and was beside the net.

“I think Jake paid (the goalie), paid him off for that one,” said Zucker, although not even he could suppress his smile afterward.

If you think the stuff he says to the cameras and our mics is funny, you should hear the stuff he lobs at the boys when we’re not recording.

“He’s one of the more vocal guys on our team. He engages a lot with that game away from the game, so to speak, with some of the talk that goes on between our opponents and our team on the ice,” coach Mike Sullivan said Dec. 21. “You know, Zuck, he’s pretty good at that. Sometimes he has the ability to drag us into the fight.”

Who knows what Zucker said when he drove St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnginton to near-insanity during the Penguins’ Dec. 3 win.

After being pulled, Binnington charged toward the Penguins’ bench. The target of his ire was Jason Zucker — who gave the “Who, me?” palms-up look.

Pittsburgh Penguins Jason Zucker, Jordan Binnington

 

He and Rust completely hijacked a video when the Pittsburgh Penguins brought child reporters into the room (let’s be honest, Pittsburgh media are basically children, too).

And it’s rubbing off on Rust, too.

When PHN asked Rust Saturday what the power play needed to do better, he shot back, “We want to score more goals.”

Yep, thanks for that one.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.