Why I Love The Penguins

Posted: October 9, 2010 by JoeyD in NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Why I love

Continuing our introduction with the writers here at Crimespree, I will share why I love the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hockey could be considered to me a never ending Christmas gift as I went to my first game December 27, 1984 at a mere four years old.  The Penguins played host to the Hartford Whalers and won 4-0. Of course, this was during Mario’s rookie year but Mario was nowhere to be found on the scoresheet. John Chabot scored twice and Roberto Romano had a shutout.  When the game finished my Dad said let’s go to the restroom then we will head home. I immediately started throwing a fit, screaming “I don’t wanna go home, I wanna go down there and play hockey!!”  Everyone in my section proceeded to laugh quite heartily. That night, a lifelong hockey fan was born.

The following summer, Mario had an autograph signing at a local mall. Being an inattentive five year old, I must not have fully grasped that I was in the presence of a local hero, as I was more interested in being a silly kid. So while my dad was having a quick talk with Le Magnifique, out from under the table piped yours truly with an ADD style epiphany…”HEY DAD, THIS GUY GOT NO SOCKS ON!” Again, I was able to entertain quite a throng of people. You see “Ace” (Ian Moran’s future nickname for Mario) was wearing a pair of shorts and a pair of loafers…remember this was the 80s so have fun picturing this one.  The best part was, of all the people I made laugh with that statement, Mario was one of them, I made Mario laugh!

The photographer there ended up taking a picture of me and Mario. Unfortunately, despite my Dad’s best efforts the photographer was unwilling to give us a copy of the picture. So somewhere out there is a picture of me and my friend, Mario Lemieux. Any one of us could bump into him nowadays and politely ask for a picture, but to be a mere tyke and getting a picture with him before he was even able to drink in this country would easily top any picture with Santa. Oh about the autograph? I still have the mini hockey stick, and it is my most cherished physical possession.

Over the years, I have been to quite a number of Penguins games. For several years in the 80s we had a half season ticket plan.  Once the Penguins were getting more popular and more productive on the ice the decision was made to have a requirement to purchase a full season. Finances dictated that we had to drop the Penguins and keep only our Steelers tickets.  Games became a little more sparse until the beginning of the Penguins Student Rush Program.  Using the Student Rush I went to at least half of the home games in the awful 03-04 season.  That year the Pens averaged less than 12,000 attendance, but those were some of the loudest and most animated crowds you can see without having a playoff atmosphere.  The numbers were low, but they were passionate. And I was there…alot, so dont even think of calling me some Sidney Sweepstakes bandwagoner…cause I wont respond kindly, lol.  In fact that year we had around 20 of us at the final home game that season for a friend’s Bachelor Party, it was the first time we did the Shirts Off Our Backs promotion, and the crowd ate it up.  We also had a chant at the end of the game…..”WE GET OVECHKIN”…we played the Caps that afternoon…None of us know where our paths were really going that day….not at all.

But there was one  thing I did know, I’ll ride that path where ever it takes me, and enjoy every minute of it. Luv Ya, Black and Gold!

  1. Dan MacNeal says:

    Nice job Joe!

  2. foreverandstaalways says:

    Such a cute story Joey!

  3. Amos Matsick says:

    Wow, you did a pretty good job with that. You must have taken an English writing course in college. I like the story about Mario at the mall.

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