Penguins’ Stanley Cup parade draws throngs of fans
By JOE MANDAK and RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press Writers
10 hours, 33 minutes ago
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Just call it the city of champions.
Four months after celebrating the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl victory, Pittsburgh Police estimated 375,000 people converged downtown again for a parade, this time in honor of the Stanley Cup champion Penguins. People lined streets—in some places standing 20 deep or crowding onto multilevel parking garages—to get a glimpse of the team and the cup.
One woman, who initially said her name was “The Greatest Pittsburgh Penguins Fan Ever” but then noted most people call her Alison Coyle, drove eight hours from her home in Brick, N.J. to attend Monday’s parade. Arriving in Pittsburgh at 2 a.m., the 45-year-old thought she might get some sleep, but was so excited she was up by 6.
“I would give both my arms and both my legs to be here,” Coyle said, donning a Sidney Crosby(notes) jersey and holding her camera above her head to try to get a better shot of the players.
The Penguins won their third Stanley Cup Friday in a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The parade followed the same route that drew an estimated 300,000 fans in February for the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII victory.
“This is great and there’s gonna be many more,” said Andrew Mehlich, 30, of Pittsburgh, who attended the parade with several family members.
Chanting “Let’s go Pens,” fans honked plastic horns and cheered. Team captain Crosby held the cup in the air as he rode in the back of a truck alongside goalie Marc-Andre Fleury(notes).
“Thank you guys,” Crosby told the crowd. “What can I say? I mean the support you guys have given us, the support you have showed … You deserve to be called the city of champions. You deserve the Stanley Cup.”
One fan carried a handwritten sign: “Nothing like a Fleury in June.” Others had homemade aluminum foil replicas of the prized cup and threw black-and-gold confetti—the team’s colors—along the parade route. Forward Maxime Talbot jumped out of a car to shake hands with fans.
“It’s a holiday for Pittsburgh,” said Michelle Solkovy, 31, of Pittsburgh, who took the day off work and brought her 4-year-old daughter, Kendall, to the parade.
Betti Labbe, 40, and her husband Joe Szekeres, 44, of Frederick, Md., drove to Pittsburgh Sunday night. Szekeres is a lifelong Penguins fan who attends about five games a year—but his wife needed a little more coaxing.
“It was them or divorce so I picked the Penguins,” Labbe said.
Melanie Milko, 46, who’s from the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin and said she used to cut former Penguins star Jaromir Jagr’s(notes) mother’s hair, said Monday’s celebration was better than the fan rallies held after the 1991 and 1992 championships.
“There’s a lot more respect for hockey everywhere,” said Milko, who painted the numbers of her 10 favorite players on her fingernails for the parade. “Hockey’s it.”
Many fans wore new T-shirts saying “Steel City Champions.” Others opted for the old-style, light blue Penguins jerseys.
Some fans are season ticket holders who often see the Pens play live. Others are like twins Peter and Nick Ellefson, 14, of Beaver Falls, who have only seen it on TV. Still, Peter summed up the victory in one word: “Sweet!”
Kevin Greager, 35, drove about three hours from Greencastle with his son Kody, 8, and daughter Kelsey, 5. Graeger said when he heard Sunday the parade was happening he knew he had to come despite the long drive.
“We don’t know when they’re going to win the cup again so we’re going to Pittsburgh one way or another,” Greager, a firefighter in Frederick, Md., said.
I knew it was a lot of people but outdrawing the Super Bowl parade!
Cup Finale on NBC Was Most Watched NHL Game in 36 Years
'Yinz' Should Admit it: Pittsburgh Rules
Posted Jun 16, 2009 12:00AM By Jay Mariotti (RSS feed)
Filed Under: Back Porch, NHL
'Yinz' Should Admit it: Pittsburgh Rules
In Chicago, Milton Bradley further endears himself to Cubdom by flipping a ball into the seats with two out, a farcical sign that 100 years without a World Series title soon will be 101. In Cleveland, the poor people still haven't won a championship in any sport since 1964 and might lose LeBron James to New York, assuming the gulls and midges don't eat him first. In Buffalo, they're not yet over the sting of reaching the Super Bowl four times and losing four times, which still trumps chicken wings as the civic identity.
"That's life," Bradley explained. "These people have high expectations. I have high expectations for myself. I never made a mistake like that (losing track of the outs) in my life. Sue me."
"Something needs to be done," the Indians' Ryan Garko said of the birds and bugs that attack Progressive Field. "There's got to be a way to get rid of them. It's kind of embarrassing. We look like a bunch of kids playing on an abandoned field. It's kind of funny, but kind of not funny."
Across America, sports cities deal with unique forms of futility. How about Atlanta, which has fielded teams in major sports since the 1960s and has one championship to show for it? Or Minneapolis-St. Paul, which has only two since the '70s? Or Kansas City, which hasn't won anything since 1985 and may as well cede from the big time? All of which makes me even more amazed by the performance of the country's most efficient sports town.
Would you believe Pittsburgh as the City of Champions?
Since 1970, when the sports industry began its big boom nationally, a town currently ranked as the 26th television market –– sandwiched by Portland and Salt Lake City –– has won an astounding 11 championships between its three big-league teams. That rates behind only the New York and Los Angeles metro areas, which are represented by multiple teams in some leagues, and Boston, which owns 13 titles in that span among its four franchises. Tucked amid hills and rivers somewhere between Appalachia and the East Coast, Pittsburgh is a small, humble place with its own dialect and idiosyncrasies. When the rest of us say "you guys," folks in western Pennsylvania say "yinz." An Iron City beer is ordered as an "Arn and a shot." Anywhere else in the world, french fries are ordered and eaten separately; in the 'Burgh, the fries are stuffed inside the sandwich with coleslaw and anything else that might be laying around.
Whatever they're eating, it's working. Four months after the Steelers won their second Super Bowl in four years and sixth since the '70s, the Penguins won their third-ever Stanley Cup with one of the epic Game 7 triumphs in NHL history, a toppling of the Detroit Red Wings' dynasty in a hostile Hockeytown environment. Just as the Steelers are in a mode where they can win another championship any given season, the Penguins seem set for years with their young superstars, 21-year-old Sidney Crosby and 22-year-old Evgeni Malkin. There are towns that have waited decades just to get a sniff of a Stanley Cup, Vince Lombardi Trophy or any piece of hardware. Pittsburgh, little Pittsburgh, already is armed with an embarrassment of riches and can anticipate more glory well into the next decade.
Why there? Because it's a town blessed with sound, purposeful leadership, as demanded by hard-working people. Dan Rooney, who inherited the Steelers from his father, sticks by old-school principles and a continuity in coaching –– a formula that works in this century as well as the last. And Mario Lemieux, the cornerstone of Penguins clubs that won two Cups in the early '90s, helped saved hockey in Pittsburgh by the will of his personality and business sense, then completely lucked out and landed the No. 1 pick in the draft the year Crosby was available. With Malkin, the youngest Conn Smythe Trophy winner ever and the league's regular-season scoring champion, the Penguins have the most potent duo in sports for the next, oh, dozen years or so if they can keep both financially happy.
And the crazy thing is, all of this is happening in a town with only 335,000 residents within the city limits and 1.4 million in the market. An estimated 400,000 of those folks were downtown for another victory parade Monday, a celebration that took the same route as the Steelers. They chanted "Let's Go Pens!" and honked horns as the players waved and shot victory salutes.
"Thank you guys," Crosby told the fans. "What can I say? The support you guys have given us, the support you have showed ... You deserve to be called the City of Champions. You deserve the Stanley Cup."
Spoiled? I know I am. Pittsburgh is my hometown, and when I arrived in Chicago and started pounding on the Cubs and White Sox and Bears for not winning titles in a major market, the locals thought I was too rough on their boys. Why was I so discriminating? Maybe because I grew up in a place where Super Bowls and Hall of Famers were commonplace, where Lemieux became a hockey icon and where, until the humiliation of recent years, the Pirates won two World Series and were competitive into the '90s with a pre-steroids Barry Bonds and a scrappy, chain-smoking manager named Jim Leyland. The White Sox finally won in 2005, which brought Chicago its first Series championship in almost 200 collective seasons on both sides of town. But why was one title a big deal when Pittsburgh had won two in eight years?
They are appreciative and sophisticated enough in the 'Burgh not to burn down the town. Shocked as many were that the Penguins stunned the Wings on the road, which ended a six-game win streak for Game 7 home teams in a Cup final, the fans celebrated with beer and much merriment. That is in contrast to Los Angeles, where eight police officers suffered minor injuries in downtown flareups after the Lakers' NBA championship clincher Sunday night in Orlando. They started fires. They threw rocks and bottles at officers. They vandalized stores. In all, 20 were arrested. Given a choice of living in Southern California or Pittsburgh, most would opt for sun, surf and sand over shutdown steel mills. Sounds like Pittsburgh is a better place to raise a family.
In the wake of Friday's changing of the guard, it's a shame the Red Wings tried to spoil the moment by sniping at Crosby. Yes, the captain was late to arrive at the traditional receiving line in which handshakes are exchanged afterward, but did he not have a good excuse? Didn't the league commandeer his services for several immediate TV interviews before pointing Crosby to commissioner Gary Bettman, who handed him the Stanley Cup? Isn't Sid the Kid still just 21 years old? It was as if the Wings, bitter after failing to win their fifth Cup in 13 seasons, needed a target on which to vent. They picked the wrong guy. No one is more humble, more respectful of tradition, than Crosby. He's the boy-next-door who literally still lives in Lemieux's house. If Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was waiting for him, he should have asked the league to delay interviews until after all hands were shaken.
"Nick was waiting and waiting, and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand," Detroit veteran Kris Draper complained. "That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that."
"I think that's one thing you should do," teammate Henrik Zetterberg added Monday. "I don't know why he didn't do it. It's disrespectful."
"Sidney was probably caught up in the emotions and everything," Lidstrom said. "He'll learn from it."
No, gentlemen, Sidney was preoccupied by protocol, something Lidstrom and the Wings should know all about. The Cup ceremony was old hat to them. It was new to Crosby. The Detroit guys look petty in criticizing him.
"It's the easiest thing in the world to shake hands after you win," said Crosby, denying any bad intentions and pointing out that he did shake hands with goalie Chris Osgood and other Wings players. "I really don't need to talk to anyone from Detroit about it. I made the attempt to go shake hands. I've been on that side of things, too, I know it's not easy, waiting around. I just won the Stanley Cup, and I think I have the right to celebrate with my teammates. On their side of things, I understand if they don't want to wait around.
"I had no intentions of trying to skip guys and not shake their hands. I think that was a pretty unreasonable comment. The guys I shook hands with, they realized I made the attempt. If I could shake half their team's hands, I'm sure the other half wasn't too far behind. I don't know what happened there. I have no regrets."
Nor should he. He is part of a remarkable story in hockey lore, a team left for dead several times in the playoffs and regular season. When general manager Ray Shero found the guts in February to fire coach Michel Therrien, who merely had produced a Stanley Cup finals appearance last season, the Penguins were 27-25-5 and five points shy of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Shero hired the raw, 38-year-old Dan Bylsma, not far removed from minor-league coaching, and advocated the installation of a more aggressive system that took advantage of Crosby, Malkin and the offensive talent. The result was a radical turnaround of 34-11-4, and wherever Therrien is today, even he must applaud the move.
If the shots from outside the Penns arena during the series are any indication, there are going to be a lot of really funny looking kids born about 9 months from now ::zips up flamesuit::
From across the pond...
Penguins come back from the brink to lift Stanley Cup
Penguins come back from the brink to lift Stanley CupPittsburgh Penguins looked down and out after two defeats in Detroit but outlasted the Red Wings in a memorable game seven
Pittsburgh Penguins players celebrate with the Stanley Cup after their game-seven win over Detroit. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/AP
Don't you hate it when it all finally comes to an end? The National Hockey League did its very best to stretch the season out well into the summer – had the Stanley Cup finals stuck to their original schedule the campaign would still be going now – but even a series that goes to the promised land of game seven must eventually end.
What does it all mean? Well, it means that the Pittsburgh Penguins are the best ice hockey team in the world (as distinct from world champions, which they emphatically are not, despite what many commentators insist on saying). It also means that your correspondent here in London can, for the summer at least, finally go to bed at a respectable hour. For once, the NHL is not taking place in my front room at 3.10 in the morning.
So how were the 2009 Stanley Cup finals for you? For me, they were frantic. I watched game one from my home here in Camden. I then flew to Toronto and had trouble finding a bar that was showing game two – with commentary, if you please – so was forced to watch it in my hotel room. The next morning I got hit by a car while out running down by the Air Canada Centre – the only action the ACC has seen during the play-offs – and somehow I contrived to miss game three because I was watching the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball. Back in London for game four, by game five I had written off the Penguins only for the Pennsylvanians to win game six and thus ruin my planned Friday night drinking session that coincided with game seven.
Ah, game seven. Is there anything as beautiful, or as horrible, in all of North American sports? In reaching the Stanley Cup finals for two consecutive years, the Red Wings and the Penguins have each played something like 200 games of hockey in the past two years. This excludes pre-season games, which are like normal games but with more fighting. The Penguins even started this season in Stockholm, some miles away from the Steel City. Yet there they were, nine months on, all ready for a Friday night match-up in America's most terrifying city.
Detroit had seemed to be a place of which the Penguins were frightened. Without being slapped around the ice as they were in the first two games of last year's series, this time the Penguins left Motown after a 5–0 humiliation and headed home for game three without a win. Yes, they looked better, but so what? The statisticians began to chatter: of 32 teams who had skated out to a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals, 31 had gone on to lift the cup. Who but a fool would bet against Detroit?
What's more, to overturn this daunting stat the Pens would need to win at least one game on the road. So as long as the Red Wings held their home nerve the cup would be theirs. So according to the script, Detroit would, for the second consecutive year, lift the Stanley Cup – the first team to win back-to-back titles since they themselves did so just over a decade ago.
But no one had accounted for the will of the Penguins. During his fitness workouts during the summer, Sidney Crosby had taped up a picture of the Red Wings celebrating their triumph at last year's finals (and doing so on Pittsburgh ice, no less) on the wall of the gym. Whenever he felt like taking a break he would see this picture and give that little bit extra. So too, it seems, did the rest of the side that he has so ably led to their first championship since 1992. When Crosby was forced by injury to sit out the final parts of Friday's game, his team-mates picked up the strain. In doing so they did to the Red Wings what for two years the Red Wings had done to others: they exhausted them, then strangled the life out of them.
I'm struck by two things from the series. One is the sight of Marian Hossa, a player who has now found himself on the losing team in the Stanley Cup finals for two years on the bounce. What's worse, Hossa actually rejected a deal from Pittsburgh in favour of less favourable terms from Detroit because he thought he'd stand a better chance if his uniform were coloured red. Let's all spare a thought for Marian. Come on, no laughing.
But my favourite sight was of Pittsburgh's Bill Guerin, who at the start of this year found himself playing for the New York Islanders, a team so bad that I've got more chance of winning the Stanley Cup than they have. But at the trade deadline Bill went to Pennsylvania, and became a contender.
I have a friend who works the ice at Madison Square Garden, and earlier this season Guerin asked my friend if his kid could ride the Zamboni after the Islanders had played the Rangers there. As a way of saying thanks, the player then gave my friend a used hockey stick. Being a Rangers fan, my friend obviously hung this stick in his toilet. But nonetheless, the ice man remains impressed, by Bill Guerin and his manners.
So I am pleased for Guerin that he has won the Stanley Cup, and I'm somewhat pleased that he's done so with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The internet forecasters – not this one, I don't know anything – are already wondering whether Pittsburgh versus Detroit will be the match-up for next season's Stanley Cup finals. All I can say is, I do hope not. It's all well and good for sportscasters to talk about dynasties and legacies, about superstars or phenomenons, but, me, I like a bit of variety. I like to see evidence that a salary cap is actually working. I like to see a season start and not have any inkling of how it might end.
Next year I would like to see the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings duke it out for right to hoist the Stanley Cup into the air and proclaim the NHL the best league in North American sports.
Bye for now.
The fans in Pittsburgh...and the Penguins, themselves deserve this.
Contrast this to a Lakers championship.
Originally Posted By Kuraki:
Contrast this to a Lakers championship.
no kidding. Trying to figure out why the monumental difference
I hate hockey, but that was pretty exciting. Glad they won!