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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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: 2012 NHL Mock Draft, Picks 1-15

My most recent Bleacher Report Article. Tons of research went into this one. It is all about what could happen during the first 15 picks of the NHL draft on Friday. Feel free to check it out and comment! Do you agree?

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1224508-nhl-mock-draft-1st-round-expectations-picks-1-15

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!

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!

11 month old neck injury, finally assessed

This weekend was a weekend of superstars. The All-Star Game and Super Skills competitions took place in Ottawa, Team Chara pulled out a third-period win on Team Alfredsson, and Sidney Crosby came back into the spotlight. But regardless of the All-Star festivities (and Chara’s new record for the hardest slapshot of all time), Crosby’s news was the most shocking.

Yesterday it was reported that a spine-specialist from California diagnosed Crosby with a previously hidden neck injury (fractured C1 and C2). Even though it is said to be healed, this was the first time Crosby and worried Pittsburgh fans heard anything about vertebrate injuries in addition to Crosby’s 11-month+ concussion symptoms. This is shocking for a couple of reasons.

Crosby is being seen by the best doctors in the world. He has seen numerous specialists from all over the US and it took 11 months for doctors to see a neck injury? The NHL is saying how they are really assessing players for their concussions, but apparently they are not having doctors do MRIs and CAT scans on players heads and necks?

Pittsburgh fans have been very persistent in pushing for information on their captain’s health condition for the last year. A #Crosbywatch started on twitter a while ago, and numerous statements have been released by doctors, coaches, and Sid himself. One of the memorable early conversations about Sid’s concussion was when Doctor Michael Collins referred to Crosby as a Ferrari (You don’t want your ferrari with the best features running like a cheap old car) and said the concussion wasn’t the Boogeyman. But, if the concussion isn’t the boogeyman, maybe his neck injury is. It hid and terrorized Crosby and the city of Pittsburgh for 11 months- and now it is mysterious and no one knows what it means for the future. Is a neck-injury prone to re-injury like a concussion? Even though it is supposedly healed, are there ramifications for Crosby not properly treating it for the last 11 months?

The only thing to do is keep an eye on #Crosbywatch and see what doctors say for the future. Just make sure to take everything they say with a grain of salt!