Can you believe the last few days?
Pittsburgh is now home to two champions – with the latest title coming from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The franchise which faced bankruptcy and nearly left town for the riches of a new arena in Kansas City, is now on top of the hockey world … and our city.
I had a chance to see the final pages of this story first-hand. From a trip to Detroit for my first-ever finals game 7 to a front-row seat for today’s championship parade. It was a different experience for me in so many ways. Since I no longer work as a sports anchor, I have not a chance to interview almost all the players, except Crosby. My only meeting with Coach Dan Bylsma was at a restaurant one night.
However, I was able to be there for the game 7 and the most improbably Stanley Cup champion in recent memory. It was thrilling to watch the Pens exorcise the demons of Detroit with the game 7 win. I wish I could have been on the ice for the trophy presentation, but I wound up being outside doing live shots at 11pm.
That was an “interesting” experience to say the least. The Pens fans out there were more than a little sauced and the Detroit fans who joined them were more than a little upset. One peeved Wings fan came up to me and actually said ” What are you going to do now? All you have to cover is the stinking Pirates”.
My answer. Two words: Detroit Lions.
Let’s fast forward to Monday … and the parade. From the start, there was something different about this celebration. The temperature, of course, and then there were the fans. You could sense the Pens fans were younger … and decidedly female. They seemed to move to a different beat … and a different sound. They also cheer for a group of players who seem to look at their fans differently.
The players were truly humbled by the Cup, anxious to slap hands with their fans and more than willing to sign every autograph. They are clearly not from this region, or this country, but embrace our town and traditions unlike any group of athletes I have ever seen.
Then, there is the Cup. While the Lombardi Trophy represents all the sweat and toil from a Super football season, the Stanley Cup looks more like something out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It’s actually known as “hockey’s holy grail” and it does become a quest to capture the Cup.
It was great to be next to Wendy Bell as we co-anchored the coverage and watch her become a little girl. She is the most rabid Pens fan I know and she literally melted seeing her heroes enjoy the championship.
It was a weekend to remember … and if I could find my camera cable, I would download some of the pictures I took during the last three days. Suffice to say, the memories are burned in my mind for a long time to come … or until the Pens capture the cup next season.
Editor’s Note: By the way you have to see this. While I was in Detroit, I discovered there are folks in Pittsburgh that think I had something to do with winning the Cup. Take a look and listen.