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!

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The PensNation has a new writer: Me

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For those of you who aren’t following my Twitter or my Facebook religiously, you might have missed some exciting news. Hakuna matata to all you non-stalkers, I will update you on what you’ve missed. I recently started writing NHL News for www.thepensnation.com. The PensNation is a blog and radio broadcast that is credentialed at Penguins games.

Here are the links to the three articles I have written so far:

This is my debut on the PensNation Radio Show, 4/24/13: http://bit.ly/11nCX0I. You can download and subscribe to the Radio Show on iTunes here.

Bleacher Report Article: 2012 Penguins Free Agency: What We’ve Lost/Gained & How It’ll Impact Next Season

Newest Bleacher Report Article on the Penguins. Check it out!

Bleacher Report Article: Why Pens vs. Flyers is the Series to Watch

Check out my newest Bleacher Report article on the crazy Pens vs. Flyers series. It was featured on the Pens page of B/R last night (see below pic and link)!

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1151570-penguins-vs-flyers-why-it-is-the-series-to-watch-for-any-nhl-fan

Penguins vs. Flyers, Game 3: Penalty Count Embarrassing

Not much to say about this other than it is embarrassing.

This wasn’t playoff hockey, it was a wrestling match.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 5 Keys for Pens Making a Deep Run in 2012 NHL Playoffs

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Check out my second Bleacher Report article here:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1133476-pittsburgh-penguins-5-keys-for-pens-making-a-deep-run-in-2012-nhl-playoffs

It was really great to write about the Penguins. I am headed to the Pens vs. Rangers game tonight so that should be a good preview for what might be the Eastern Conference championship this year.

More articles specifically for FiveforBoarding soon, I think I am going to write about who should win the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the year. Keep an eye out!

Even I could do better than Jeremy Roenick’s game analysis

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Dear Jeremy Roenick,

You should not be allowed on television to discuss NHL hockey. Yes, you may know a lot about the game and the players, you might appeal to an American audience who really has no one to piggy back on now that Pat Kane is playing so badly, and you might be a great announcer for the Blackhawks or the Flyers, but you should not be talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only are you incredibly biased in your hatred for the Penguins, you have even made Mike Milbury come out and speak highly of the Pens (another fairly shocking occurrence) in order to give some truth to pre/mid and post game shows. See last night’s tweets:

Last night, you argued that a clear head-hit against Letang was legal and it was actually the Penguins’ defenseman’s fault for not knowing how to ‘properly take a hit’. I am not saying to take the hits out of hockey, or going soft, but this was clearly a dangerous hit to the head. I can’t say I was upset when Mike Milbury started to shoo you off the show. See that video here: 

Jeremy, you are still too vested in the game. I can understand caring about your team, but to be a good analyst you should not be so biased. It is like watching a current player trying to talk about the opposition and why they aren’t as good as the home team. I can say this Jeremy because you cried when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009/2010 season. You need to step away from the game for a second and try to think about your current role representing the NHL. I mean, you were sad when Oduya announced he would wear ’27’ for the Blackhawks this year. Here is what you said on twitter that day, “Really???? Nothing against oduya… But seriously??? Not really happy about that at all. Gotta be honest” So Jeremy, what I have to say to that is: get over yourself, you aren’t playing hockey anymore.

Another time we saw your bias come out shining was during the past winter Olympics. When everyone was disucssing the Ovechkin vs. Crosby showdown, you took it to another level. See that video here:  The first thing you said on the comparison was, “How can you compare Ovechkin with Sidney Crosby”.Well, Jeremy- here is how, they were going into the Olympics with the same amount of goals in the lead. Both teams were strong, and if I remember correctly, Sidney Crosby scored the game winning goal in the Olympics for Canada to win the gold. Can you say that about Ovechkin?

You should reconsider the way you speak about hockey and try to separate yourself from your playing days. It is annoying to watch, and incredibly biased.

Sincerely,

FiveforBoarding

NHL Trade Deadline- All Eyes on Rick Nash

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This year’s NHL trades have gotten off to a slow start. A couple key players people thought would be shuffled around the league have been re-signed to their respective teams (Tuomo Ruutu, Andy Sutton…etc.) But what everyone seems to be waiting for is some of the bigger trades that are bound to happen right at the trade deadline. One of the most watched candidates for a trade is Blue Jacket’s captain, and 2o02’s 1st round draft pick, Rick Nash.

Numerous teams seem to be interested in the right-winger. And who wouldn’t be? I mean, he has had 42 points this season thus far. Despite playing for the worst team in the league (and subsequently hovering at a staggering -21 +/-, yeah, ouch!) Nash has managed to look desirable to other hockey clubs.

With the potential trade, Columbus could start to rebuild their franchise with a stronger goalie and a couple promising young players. This is obviously a dangerous move for the Jackets, and no one knows just how serious they are about trading away their captain. On the other hand, another team might be willing to pay big bucks or offer a serious trade to add Nash to their team as the missing piece to a Stanley cup victory.

Offers have started to come through from San Jose (off-season deal), the Rangers, Flyers, Kings, and Maple Leafs. Some look promising (Sharks, Rangers, and Kings) and others look like they will fall through. The Flyers deal will fall-through because of the price and the fact that the Flyers have already begun to make moves with the signing of Kubina (sidenote: this is much more important for the Flyers anyway, they need to build up their defense not their offense). There is really no way of knowing if the Jackets will hold off until the off-season or start making moves sometime before February 27th.

Another interesting chance to snag Rick Nash might be the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the Penguins do not really have the cap money left to pick up someone with such a hefty price tag, they would certainly be able to if GM Ray Shero knew that Crosby wouldn’t be able to play for the rest of the season. With Crosby on long-term injury reserve, his 8.7 million paycheck also doesn’t count into the Pens’ salary cap until Crosby comes back. The only problem with this however, is there is still no timetable for Crosby’s return. Without knowing when Sid will be able to play, this trade is not really a safe one for the Pens (unless Ray Shero knows something we don’t).

Overall, I don’t really think any of the trade propositions I have heard of so far are worthwhile for the Blue Jackets. They do need to start rebuilding their team, but I am not sure trading away their captain (who should be the glue holding the team together) is the best plan of action. Maybe something will happen closer to the deadline, but I think if the Blue Jackets are smart they will hold on to Nash unless they get a stronger offer (ex. If the Sharks went back on their rejection of the Couture/Nash trade).

Do you agree? Will Nash stay with the Blue Jackets? Who do you think is offering the Jackets the best trade?

A 2nd Period to Remember, Spotlight Pens vs. Flyers, 2/18/12

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Today’s Pens vs. Flyers game was a great spectacle. The teams have an awesome rivalry that has just grown over time. Recently adding to the rivalry was Max Talbot’s trade to the Flyers and Jagr’s decision to pursue the end of his career in Philly rather than in Pittsburgh. Fans have also learned to love each team through their up-close actions shown on HBO’s 24/7. Both teams have hosted the Winter Classic, both have made it to the Stanley Cup final in the last 3 years and this season they are both contenders despite being plagued with major injuries to some of their star players.

The game today was close with goals continuously being traded back and forth throughout the game. The first goal came from Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke only 3 minutes into the game. His goal was overshadowed by the pair of goals from Jagr that finished out the 1st period. Yeah, you can imagine how bitter Pittsburgh fans must have been about that.

With the Pens down 2-1 after the first, they fought back in the 2nd period. The first goal of the second was an impressive short-handed goal by Pens’ center Jordan Staal. About a minute after Staal’s shorty goal, Cooke managed to do the impossible. He scored on a breakaway while the Pens were down 2 men! The Cookie Monster really came out to play!

Flyers players were visibly furious on the ice. If the 2nd period wasn’t exciting enough after two short-handed goals, the Flyers ended up getting a major break from Pens’ defenseman Deryk Engelland. Engelland tripped on the ice and let Wellwood get off a quick shot near the end of the 2nd period. Wellwood ended up scoring off Engelland’s major mistake. After Wellwood’s goal the 2nd period ended at 3-3.

After the excitement of the 2nd period, the 3rd turned out to be pretty lack-luster in thrill-factor (especially if you are a Flyers fan). The Pens scored 3 goals and left the Flyers goal-less until the last minute of regulation. Pretty exciting game overall and definitely a rivalry that is worthwhile in the NHL.

I will upload the individual play videos when they go public on YouTube, but if you want to see the game recap and the goals I am talking about here is a link where you can watch it! —> http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,865

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!