Jordan Lee Staal
Born September 10, 1988 (age 22) in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Center and alternate captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins
Our Staal Appreciation Saga comes to its conclusion with Jordan. He started out playing on the outdoor rink his dad built (aww!) and then for major junior with the brilliantly-named Peterborough Petes. With the Petes, he scored at least one point per game in the 2005-06 season. Unbelievable! Production like that led him to be ranked second among North American skaters for the 2006 draft. Staal was drafted second overall, continuing a family pattern because both Marc and Eric were drafted second overall too. He went right to the big show at the age of 18, setting records for achievements by youngest players and being nominated for the Calder (although Evgeni Malkin won that year). Staal is also one of the few hockey players I know who have a strangely attractive-looking mug shot to their names. (Patrick Kane is the other one.) He was arrested at Eric’s bachelor party in 2007, along with Eric, who was charged with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct and ‘obstructing the legal process’ while Jordan got nicked for underage drinking. Naughty! But he continued to be a good player in spite of this little run-in with the fuzz. In December 2008, he was named alternate captain. January 2009 saw the Pens extend Staal’s contract to 2012-13. Of course, in 2009 the Penguins also did another really cool thing…
In 2010 and 2011, though, Staal had some injuries. In April 2010, he missed a game and needed surgery after getting his foot sliced, breaking a 358-game attendance streak (wow!). He also sat out October for recovery and fractured his hand during a practice in November, necessitating another surgery. He came back for the 2011 Winter Classic and his struggles to return were documented in the 24/7 HBO documentary about the Winter Classic. So because of this, he played 42 games, got 11 goals and 19 assists and had 24 sin bin minutes. In the playoffs, he played seven games, got one goal and two assists with two penalty minutes. Does he have records? I alluded to them earlier, you BET he has records. Youngest player to score on a penalty shot, youngest to score a hatty, youngest to score two shorthanded goals in one game, most shorthanded goals by a rookie for 06-07. He also has a gold medal from the 2007 Worlds.
Provided he stays away from injury, I imagine “Gronk” will have a very good 2011-12 season!