Zarley Zalapski Jersey Penguins

Former Penguins defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at the age of 49, according to multiple reports Tuesday. No cause of death was known immediately.

Zalapski was a first-round Penguins draft pick in 1986. Despite playing only parts of four seasons with the team, he ranks 11th in franchise history in defenseman scoring with 33 goals and 135 points in 190 games.

Along with John Cullen and Jeff Parker, Zalapski was sent to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings in a blockbuster 1991 trade that paved the way for the Penguins’ first two Stanley Cup championships.

Zalapski played parts of eight seasons with Hartford, Calgary, Montreal and Philadelphia after leaving the Penguins. He retired in 2010 after playing five seasons in Europe.

“I loved (Pittsburgh),” Zalapski said in a 2011 interview with the Tribune-Review . “I really enjoyed the city, and the people were great. I made a lot of good friends there. That was the worst part about the whole thing, me having to move, was that I wouldn’t be able to spend time with the people I made friends with. And then I just really liked the area.

“Out of all the places that I’ve played, both in Europe and in the NHL, that’s still my favorite place.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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