Monday, May 12, 2008

Update from the confines of work.

I'm at work, and there is futball (soccer) to be played tonight so I thought i'd do a quick update, pretty amusing blog entry from Ian Altenbaugh of The Sporting News:

Recently I have noticed a trend amongst hockey fandem. This phenomena is known as The Anti-Penguin Mentality. It has always been prominent within the confines of Philadelphia but has seen mass popularity with the ongoing success of the Penguins. In the last couple weeks Penguins fans have listened to members of the New York media bash superstar Sidney Crosby. The owner of the Philadelphia Flyers stated that is was unfair for the Penguins to have success because they had five losing seasons in a row. Message to Mr. Snider: your team has not won a cup since the seventies. The Flyers were absolutely terrible last season. Also, teams like Atlanta, Columbus, Florida, amongst others have had perennial high draft picks and have continued to suck year in and year out. So you can go shove some of your money up your no touch zone.

I know that people hate those who are seemingly destined for success. I do. This team is destined for success. The Penguins are under no circumstances the evil empire either. They do not have domineering ownership. Primary owner Ron Burkle allows Mario Lemieux to be the face of Penguin ownership. They are not like the owners of the Pirates, The Nuttings, an ownership group that does not care about the product that they are profiting from. Nor is Penguin ownership such like that of the Yankees or Oakland Raiders, a constant source of frustration for committed fans. So it can not be the Penguins representation that makes them so hated.

It is easy to say Sidney Crosby dives but he is constantly being disrupted and what some person sees as a player going down easily another sees as a player trying to sell a penalty. If you say he whines then you do not watch hockey. He talks to the refs but he is the captain and he is a talker. He is not always talking about the play either, he is referring to patches on the ice, issues with pucks, Crosby is a control freak, he is also at times joking around with officials. Maybe he is charming them. Well you can not hate him for being charming.

Penguin fans are, generally speaking, zealous but realistic. It comes from living in a poor city like Pittsburgh. Also, the fans in their teens and twenties know far more then Johnny beer-and-a-shot at the bar. The interesting thing about Penguins and to a lesser extent Steelers fans is that so many of them are college students. The hockey season practically eclipses the school year. Unlike Steelers fans however Penguins fans are not hopelessly dogmatic followers. There are not as naïve nor are they as stupid.

Pens fans on the whole are the savviest sports fans in the region. I have been through out the region. Trust me. They are already looking to the off-season to see what potential UFAs will be able to plug the vacancies expected to be created with the probably loss of Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa, and Brooks Orpik. The fans however are a carbon copy of Pens management. Management has gone to great lengths to assure that their fanbase will stay forever. Recent things done by management, such as the giant screen set up on Mellon Arena lawn that draws tens of thousands of people on game day to sit out and watch the game, have garnered national attention. Among some of the other things Pens management does is set aside a certain amount of tickets for each game for walk-up sales. This is unfounded in professional sports and while the chances of getting these tickets are next to nothing (sometimes as few as 100 are set aside) it is a gesture to those who can not afford the standard ticket prices and hope to capitalize on the Pens Student Rush Program a program that allows anyone with a valid student ID to get the first available ticket for 25 dollars. I had done this during the regular season and had seats behind the net, against the boards. When a player crashed into the boards, I jumped. That close. Twenty-five bucks.

So why do you hate the Penguins? I have you reason to like them. Tell me why you hate them. I, as a fan, am enjoying the Pens success. I watched a lot of bad hockey and went to a few games last season wondering if this was going to be it. It is nice to be rewarded.

In addition to his blog on TSN, Ian Altenbaugh writes a column for Sports Fiend Hockeytitled Around the Atlantic.

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