All That Has Transpired: Toronto Maple Leafs

Today’s article on The PensNation: http://bit.ly/17BzQan

Maple Leafs Off-Season: Additions, Subtractions, and what it all means for 2013-2014.

ATHT-TML

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Pittsburgh Hockey Boom of the 90s: How I Became a Fan

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Teacher: “What were the names of the three ships Columbus lead to America in 1492?”

Elementary School Me: “The Nina, the Pinta, and the Civic Arena”

shipsandarena

If that doesn’t explain my connection to hockey, I don’t know what does. And yes, that really happened. For all of you who didn’t pay attention in elementary school history class, the third ship was the Santa Maria. Easy mistake, right? That being said, I’d like to delve into my love for hockey and how I became a part of the Lemieux-induced Pittsburgh hockey boom of the early 90s.

On February 8, 1997, I went to my first NHL hockey game. I was six and by the end of overtime my life had changed forever. You would have thought the game, a regular season match up between the Penguins and the Red Wings, was the Stanley Cup Final. I was so excited. I finally got to join my Canadian father at a hockey game. If that isn’t something every child of a Canadian father dreams about, the father should be ashamed (see also my cousin Josh who’s daughter got her first personalized Leafs jersey before age 2- because why limit your endless years of disappointment?).

Anyway, back to the game in 1997- I don’t really remember much, other than seeing Mario Lemieux’s face on the jumbotron, a lot. It turns out the game was actually pretty epic. Red Wings superstar, recent NHL Hall of Famer, and league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan scored a hat trick. Pens legend, number 1 draft pick, and current owner Mario Lemieux recorded two goals. The game went into overtime. And although the Red Wings won 6-5, I knew I had to get my Dad to keep bringing me back to the Igloo. As we left the arena, my Dad informed me the game was Scotty Bowman’s 1000th win. “Oh” I thought. “That’s cool, I guess. 1000 seems like a big number.” I didn’t even really notice the coaches on the benches, how was I supposed to realize I was watching Scotty Bowman make history? For the record, Scotty Bowman is still the winningest coach in NHL history with a grand total of 1,244 wins.

As the years continued and I got older, I started to read hockey books, especially the Hockey News Top 100 NHL Players of All-Time.  I couldn’t believe some of the stories in that book, especially the ones about Terry Sawchuk. I quickly became the little girl with a lot of obscure hockey knowledge. Yes, I was the kid who left American Girl dolls locked in the closet while making collages from my IceTime game programs and begging my Mom to buy me hockey cards.

Hockey just kept getting more and more fun. I got to see Matthew Barnaby dance around and make fun of Lyle Odelein for looking like Cornelius from Planet of the Apes, which was particularly hilarious when I was 8 years old.

I got to meet Joey Mullen, in a hideous sweatshirt (only to be outdone by his 90s Cosby-esque sweater).

JoeyMullen

I also went to the game at Mellon Arena when the power went out, twice. Fans chanted “New A-Re-Na” and my Canadian cousins who were there with me, enthusiastically reminded me that “this never happens in Toronto”.

I remember hearing about Evgeni Malkin for the first time. No one really knew exactly when he was coming (or how to pronounce his name), but everyone was really excited for the new Russian superstar.

I remember when Scuderi informed the press that he was “The Piece“. I could go on with my fondest/funniest Pens memories forever, but that isn’t the point. The point is my love affair with hockey continues as I write this hockey blog, but I want to hear about everyone else.

How did you become a hockey fan? What are some of your earliest memories of NHL hockey? Feel free to comment or tweet me @AndiPerelman!

2013 Winter Classic, Great for City of Detroit and NHL Fans

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The NHL had their press-conference at Comerica Park today to discuss the 2013 Winter Classic. It was officially announced that the game will take place at the University of Michigan’s Big House and will be an original six match-up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Most of us already knew this, but it was nice to get confirmation and also hear some new details about the festivities surrounding the Winter Classic.

Speeches were made by league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of both the Wings and the Leafs. Bettman said that extra activities would take place in Detroit including open skates on the outdoor ice and numerous other hockey games. This ‘Hockeytown Winter Festival’ that will take place mostly around Detroit and Comerica Park, will include minor league affiliate battles (Granad Rapids Griffins vs. Toronto Marlies), OHL games (Saginaw Spirit, Plymouth Whalers, London Knights and Windsor Spitfires), youth games, and the Red Wing vs. Maple Leaf alumni game. The press-conference speakers kept repeating that there will be “something for everyone” which certainly seems like it must be true if you like hockey at all.

There was also a video shown during the press conference that featured past Winter Classic games and the age-old rivalry between the Wings and the Leafs. This rivalry was also talked about by owners during the conference. One of the stats given was that the Wings have played the Leafs 644 times. The Leafs have won 276 of those games while the Wings have won 275 (I realize this does not add up, I am assuming they were not accounting for ties). Pretty close though wouldn’t you say? The rivalry was said to have peaks in the 40s and 60s.

This game will be the largest Winter Classic ever played. The Big House is said to hold 109, 901 seats for the game which is much higher than any other Winter Classic game ever played. This game also has the potential to be the biggest hockey game of all time. Yeah, pretty amazing.

Is this the best thing to ever happen to Michigan/Detroit? There is definitely a convincing argument that could be made. Detroit or “Hockeytown” as they refer to themselves, are huge hockey fans and they seem thrilled to have the chance to host the Winter Classic. And the city could really use the positive impact of the Classic (socially and more importantly economically). And the $3 million the NHL is paying the University of Michigan to rent the Big House has to be huge for students and the people affiliated with the University. What is best is there is no way we will have to worry about weather delays this year- Michigan is darn cold!

Black and Yellow Comebacks 1/31/12

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The other two teams with major 3rd period comeback wins on 1/31/12 were the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The black and yellow really seemed to be rocking the 3rd period last night!

The Bruins had a strong scoring streak near the end of the game to make them victorious against the Ottawa Senators. The Bruins started off strong with the first goal of the game (A power-play goal courtesy of Chara’s monster slapper from the blue line). The end of the 1st and the 2nd didn’t go as well for Boston. They were trailing 3-1 until the last minute of the 2nd when they started to make their comeback. Their last goal was scored with 12:51 left in the 3rd period to make the game 4-3 which ended up being the final.

Highlights from the Bruins game: 

The Penguins game was equally exciting with Pittsburgh coming back from a 4-1 deficit in the 3rd period. The game ended in a tie at 4-4. This tie was made when Center Evgeni Malkin scored the Penguins 4th goal with 0.6 seconds left in regulation. OT went scoreless and Malkin was the only one to score in the shootout to gain the Pittsburgh win. Many Toronto fans were very angry with the outcome of this game because of a re-called goal from the first two minutes of play. Officials said Lupul was penalized for goaltender interference- and I have to say, I did not see what the officials saw.

Check that out here:

Pens/Leafs Highlights, Goaltender Interference Call

Do you think the Pens deserved that win against the Leafs? Is Malkin getting enough credit from the news and the NHL for what he is doing for Pittsburgh? Does anyone see the supposed goaltender interference?

Let me know in the comments!