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Sidney Crosby, right, acknowledges the crowd next to teammate Sergei Gonchar as they are introduced as Olympians before the start of the game against Buffalo Tuesday night. - Matt Freed – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Penguins' superstar Crosby sets his sights on another Cup
By Shelly Anderson
March 3, 2010
Call them souvenirs lost.
When Sidney Crosby scored for Canada against the United States in overtime of the Olympic hockey final Sunday in Vancouver, he swooped behind the net, reached for his mouth guard, then threw that, his gloves and his stick to the heavens.
"When they cleared the ice, I never got my stick or gloves," Mr. Crosby said Tuesday after rejoining his Penguins teammates. "Of all the things, I got my mouth guard back. I don't know where [the other equipment] is. It's one of those things that I don't know how it got away or where it ended up. If I get it back one day, great. If not, someone's got it somewhere."
Other than the molded plastic mouth guard, Mr. Crosby didn't exactly come back empty-handed.
There was that gold medal, the most recent symbol of his latest larger-than-life accomplishment.
Mr. Crosby, who became the youngest NHL captain to lift the Stanley Cup last summer, brought his gold medal to Mellon Arena Tuesday morning to show the Penguins as they gathered for their morning skate.
Asked what could possibly be next after winning a Cup and a gold before his 23rd birthday, Mr. Crosby thought for a second, shrugged slightly and said softly, "Another one."
Whether he will aim for another gold medal in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, is in question -- not because he has any hesitation in playing for Team Canada again, but because the NHL has not committed to continued cooperation with the Olympics.
Mr. Crosby wouldn't go as far as some of the Russian NHL players in vowing to participate in 2014, even if that means defying the league or his pro team.
"I'd love to be there," he said. "You look at the experience I had, everybody had. It was an amazing event. It was great for hockey. The fact that it was Canada-U.S. was awesome. It was watched everywhere. I think all hockey fans in general enjoyed it.
"I can't see them not going. I really don't know what's going to happen, but, after what we experienced and I think what the fans experienced, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't go."
Success seems to follow Mr. Crosby, but he's not sure that's how he wants people to view him. Nevertheless, he's not complaining about the results.
"You want to be a winner, for sure," he said. "I think there are other things that define people besides championships. But, as a player, that's what you play for. That's what you work toward. You put everything you can into working hard so you can have those opportunities."
The next opportunity would be to help the Penguins attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. That march began quickly on the heels of the Olympics, with a home game Tuesday night against Buffalo.
That means Mr. Crosby and other NHL players who had long runs in the Olympics have little time to put that tournament into perspective.
"The whole experience was great," said Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who was on the losing end of that 3-2 game Sunday and earned a silver medal. "Obviously, not the outcome we wanted. We get going here in Pittsburgh right away, so it probably won't happen until after the season when the dust settles that I think about it."
They got a rousing reminder when the Penguins honored the Olympians from both teams before the game last night. For the Penguins, that included Mr. Crosby, Mr. Orpik, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was the third-string goaltender for Canada, and Russia's Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar, along with Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller (U.S.), coach Lindy Ruff (Canadian assistant), Henrik Tallinder (Sweden), Toni Lydman (Finland, bronze medal), Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) and Jochen Hecht (Germany).
The only smudge was a smattering of boos mixed with cheers when a clip of Mr. Crosby scoring to beat the U.S. was shown on the video board.
Mr. Miller, the Olympic tournament MVP, got one of the loudest ovations for a visiting player you would ever hear, and, at the end of the introductions, there was a short chant of "USA, USA" from the crowd.
"That would be a first," Mr. Miller said earlier in the day when asked about the possibility of a warm reception. "I usually hear my name in other ways.
"It is nice that the Olympics can help bring that out in the crowds here in the NHL because, especially out on the East Coast, you hear [taunting] a lot, and up in Canada, they like to give you a hard time. It would be nice to have a crowd appreciate your effort when you're on the road.
"But I think that's what's good about hockey fans-- they enjoy a good hockey game. It's not just about one team all the time. It's about the sport. It's nice that the U.S. really tuned in for it."
Mr. Ruff took more notice of what the quality of play in the Olympics said about the NHL, which supplied all the players for the gold-medal game.
"The two-week experience -- the hockey that was played, how great the games were, how exciting it turned out, how tight the last game was -- it just tells what a tight league we have," he said. "You look at the U.S.-Canada matchup, there's not lot of difference there."
Mr. Ruff was one of the seemingly few people in North America who didn't watch the puck cross the goal line in overtime Sunday.
"I didn't see the goal live," he said. "I was getting ready to get two [defensemen] on the ice. It just all of a sudden was in. When I saw a pair of gloves go up, I knew he had scored, but I didn't really see the goal."
Maybe one day, Mr. Crosby will get those gloves back.
Pens fans salute Sabres goaltender Miller
By Rob Rossi
March 3, 2010
Ryan Miller sure is feeling the love from hockey fans despite not playing a game at Buffalo's HSBC Arena in almost three weeks.
A leading Vezina Trophy contender for the Buffalo Sabres and the MVP of the men's Olympic hockey tournament as Team USA goalie, Miller was saluted by a sellout crowd at Mellon Arena with a standing ovation prior to the game against the Penguins on Tuesday night.
"Usually I hear my name in other ways," he said. "It is nice that the Olympics can help bring that out of the crowds in the NHL because especially out on the East Coast you hear (jeers) a lot, and up in Canada they like to give you a hard time."
Miller gave Canada (twice) and three international other teams more than a hard time during the two-week Olympic tournament that concluded Sunday night in Vancouver with a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadians.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in that contest, but Miller received a louder, longer ovation last night from Crosby's hometown NHL arena fans.
Miller allowed only seven goals during the Olympics, and his cumulative performance earned rave reviews from teammates, competitors, national fans and the international media — and a warm reception by Canadian fans at Hockey Canada Place after the gold-medal game.
"He was pretty unbelievable," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said of his Olympic teammate.
Miller, Orpik and Crosby were among several Olympians honored in a pregame ceremony last night. That group also included the following players: Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada), and Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin (Russia) of the Penguins; and Johan Hecht (Germany), Andrej Sekera (Slovakia), Henrik Tallinder (Sweden), and Toni Lydman (Finland) of the Sabres.
Also honored was Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, an assistant for Canada.
Miller, whose stature on the national sports scene grew during the Olympics, did not play last night. He is expected to start for the Sabres against Washington at home tonight.
Like most returning Olympians, Miller appeared bleary-eyed yesterday following a grueling two-week tournament and a couple of cross-country flights.
He described himself as "a little spaced out" but not disappointed with how he played Crosby's winning goal.
"He made a smart play ... he just put his head up and knew where he wanted to go with (the shot)," he said. "I felt like I had to step out and maybe take some space away. I'd been aggressive the whole tournament. I wasn't going to lose by sitting in the net.”
"If he stick-handles once, I have him. If he shoots he scores, so there we go."
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH!
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Sidney Crosby and Ben Roethlisberger
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Pittsburgh chalks up another sports win
City named No. 1 by Sporting News
Thursday, October 08, 2009
By Timothy McNulty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It took 16 years, but on-a-roll Pittsburgh has finally been named the No. 1 sports city by Sporting News magazine, beating out 398 other towns in the United States and Canada.
The city was so anointed largely on the backs of the dual 2009 Steelers and Penguins championships, but don't tell that to the former Luke Steelerstahl.
"I don't know how we don't win this every year," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said at the announcement, held in his City-County Building conference room with Sporting News publisher Ed Baker.
The magazine's cover pairs Sidney Crosby and Ben Roethlisberger, and the 29-year-old mayor noted its resemblance to an iconic Sports Illustrated cover with Willie Stargell and Terry Bradshaw from 1979.
Times are a little bit better now, and the Sporting News designation gave Mr. Ravenstahl a chance to crow again about good publicity for the city. Keep in mind Mr. Ravenstahl is a sports nut who ceremoniously changed his name in January, walked a Super Bowl red carpet in Tampa and is in a charity fantasy football league with other mayors this fall.
"We are in many ways in the national and international spotlight right now because of the G-20 and the economic revitalization of this town. ... It's a great day for Pittsburgh and a great day for sports fans," Mr. Ravenstahl said.
Philadelphia was second in the magazine's ratings and Boston third. Last year Boston won the honor and in 2007, Detroit.
Mr. Baker said the selection incorporates the number of teams in each city (which hurts Pittsburgh, due to the lack of pro basketball), team won-lost records (where the Pirates hurt the ranking), and a lot of things that go in the city's favor, such as playoff records, attendance and fan ferocity.
"There's some science, some math and some subjectivity attached to it," Mr. Baker said.
The issue hits newsstands this week. It contains an eight-page spread on Pittsburgh sports, with stories on Western Pennsylvania quarterbacks, Pitt versus West Virginia, Steelers Super Bowl rings and tips from ex-Pirates on making the team a winner again.
"I think it's a great time to reflect on how lucky we are as Pittsburghers and how lucky we are to have the great fans we have, not only in the city of Pittsburgh but around the world. I hope our fans realize this is a great tribute to them as well," Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said.
Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan -- wearing a giant Stanley Cup championship ring on his right hand -- noted that Penguins, Steelers and Pirates players routinely attend each other's games. "That is really unique. That doesn't happen in most cities," he said.
Pittsburgh has piled up similar awards to the Sporting News one lately -- Forbes said the Penguins were the fastest-growing brand in hockey this year, and last year's Turnkey Team Brand Index rated the Steelers third in overall brand loyalty after the Packers and Red Sox.
Mr. Baker, the magazine publisher, gave the mayor a Tiffany vase to mark the honor. Mr. Ravenstahl's ornate office already has a number of sports items in it, including a framed football jersey and Tiffany football given to late Mayor Bob O'Connor to mark the Steelers Super Bowl win in 2006.
The mayor -- who after the news conference talked to reporters about the city's perspective on the cash-strapped Carnegie Library system -- talked about the escape Pittsburgh's sports fandom supplies.
"People find comfort and unity in sports and it's an escape for them. ... On a Monday morning, you don't have to pick up the newspaper to know if the Steelers won or not. You just have to walk around town and get the sense of people. ... That really speaks volumes to the intensity of fans here and how much we interact with the teams," he said.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS!
2009 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS
DETROIT - JUNE 12: Sidney Crosby #87 and the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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2009 Eastern Conference Champions – Prince of Wales Trophy
RALEIGH, NC - MAY 26: Sidney Crosby #87 and Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the Prince of Wales trophy after their 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at RBC Center on May 26, 2009 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar (L-R) hold the Prince of Wales trophy
after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes to win the NHL Eastern Conference final hockey series in Raleigh, North Carolina May 26, 2009. (Reuters)
The House That Sid Built
By Joe Starkey
March 14, 2007
It's nice to be nice to the nice.
That's a Frank Burns line from M*A*S*H, and it fairly describes the Tuesday afternoon news conference announcing the Penguins' arena deal. Everybody thanked everybody then thanked everybody again, for good measure.
No, thank you.
Too bad nobody thanked the person most responsible for the fact the Penguins won't be playing in Kansas City next season and are, in fact, bound to Pittsburgh for the next 30 years.
That would be 19-year-old center Sidney Crosby.
Everything changed July 22, 2005, when the Penguins beat ridiculous odds -- they had a 6.25-percent chance of that ping-pong ball bouncing their way -- and won the draft lottery, remember?
Ticket-office phones lit up like a pinball machine. A deal to sell the team to San Jose, Calif., venture capitalist William "Boots" Del Biaggio III suddenly fell apart, presumably because Crosby's pending arrival pumped the value of the team clear through Mellon Arena's steel roof.
Crosby made the Penguins relevant again.
Crosby brought the fans back -- to the arena and to their televisions.
Mario Lemieux, Gov. Ed Rendell, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato all made it a point to thank those fans yesterday during the news conference at the Heinz History Center.
The irate e-mail and phone calls were wonderful, Onorato said, but the real statement fans made was packing Mellon Arena -- as they did last night, when they gave Lemieux an ear-splitting ovation before the national anthem.
But, would the place be packed if Crosby hadn't come along?
Or would the Penguins be scraping the bottom of the league in attendance, as they were in 2001-02 (22nd overall), 2002-03 (25th) and 2003-04 (30th and dead last)?
Funny, but you didn't hear many people talking about Pittsburgh as a prime NHL market during those years, particularly in 2003-04, when the team played to 70 percent capacity, averaging just 11,877 fans per game.
It's more likely folks were wondering if Pittsburgh was a viable hockey market at all without Lemieux's presence as a player.
If you're scoring the new arena deal, give the goal to Crosby, with plenty of assists:
Isle of Capri's partnership with the Penguins did not land the slots license but forced Plan 'B' and led to legislation mandating that the winning the slots applicant kick in $7.5 million a year toward an arena.
Bettman used the lockout year to create an economic and competitive climate in which stars such as Crosby and mid- to small-market teams such as the Penguins could succeed. He also blocked the sale of the club to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, reportedly because Balsillie had designs upon moving the franchise, and presided over the key meeting in arena negotiations this past Thursday in Cherry Hill, N.J.
"His work was essential," Rendell said.
Lemieux, of course, forgave $5 million of the Penguins' debt to him and formed a group to buy the club out of bankruptcy eight years ago, when it might have been disbanded.
Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle provided the financial backbone for Lemieux's group and was the team's chief negotiator in the arena deal.
The other major development yesterday was Lemieux's proclamation that the team won't be for sale again anytime soon.
Burkle, the mysterious Beverly Hills supermarket magnate, didn't exactly elaborate. Asked if he would take a higher profile with the team, Burkle said, oddly, "I'm in jeans. I'm going to fade away right now."
Truth is, Burkle has taken a more active role behind the scenes, even to the point of interacting with players. Not that he is ever going to be Mark Cuban, which is probably a good thing.
"The biggest thing I noticed is how he's asked guys about how we felt about certain things," Crosby said. "It means a lot to us. He really showed a lot of caring about the team. You know, if he didn't think it was a good idea to be here ... "
... the Penguins would be well on their way to Kansas City.
As for the politicians, well, there's been a long line of them involved in a process that began eight years ago. Their lollygagging drove up the arena cost by millions of dollars, but Rendell, in particular, ultimately did what needed to be done.
Penguins to get new Igloo in Pittsburgh
By Dan Lovering
March 14, 2007
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Young stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have the Penguins on the move in the NHL standings. A new multimillion dollar arena agreement has the team staying in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.
The Penguins and government officials ended months of difficult negotiations, agreeing to a $290 million arena deal that ensures the team will stay in Pittsburgh.
Keys to the agreement included the government waiving up-front money from the team, the Penguins receiving about $10.5 million compensation for delays, and the sides agreeing to share responsibility for cost overruns.
"Well, this is a great day for hockey," co-owner Mario Lemieux said Tuesday. "I'm glad that I'm here today announcing a deal with the city, the county and the state, to stay her for 30 years. That was my goal and I'm glad we finally achieved it.
"We would like to enjoy what's coming with this young team," Lemieux said.
He added that the extra arena revenue will help the team spend more in an effort to retain Crosby, the league's leading scorer, stellar rookies Malkin and Staal, and other core players who have put the Penguins in position for their first playoff berth since 2001.
The Penguins will continue to play at 46-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest in the National Hockey League, and hope to begin play in the new arena sometime during the 2009-10 season. President Ken Sawyer said it's possible the arena will not be ready for the start of that season.
Gov. Ed Rendell said the negotiations were more complicated than those to finance four new baseball and football stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in recent years because other cities were bidding for the team to move.
"With the other four stadium deals (Pirates, Steelers, Phillies, Eagles) none of those teams had an open competitor that was trying to take the team," Rendell said. "Here we had Kansas City making a very good, some might say terrific, offer and we had to respond."
As a result, the Penguins will not pay $8.5 million up front for the arena, as government officials first proposed, Rendell said. Instead, the team will receive $10 million to compensate it for delays, for property it purchased near the arena site, and to help with marketing.
Team officials weighing a move recently visited Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas, and were contacted by representatives from Houston. The Penguins were offered free rent and half of all revenues if they agreed to play in Kansas City's soon-to-be-completed $262 million Sprint Center.
Rendell also commended Lemieux, who bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 and pledged to try to keep it in the city. At the time, Lemieux was owed millions in a long-term contract and leveraged that equity to buy the team with investors, including billionaire Ron Burkle.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was credited with mediating the deal, said his "head was spinning" as Rendell itemized the terms of the deal.
"It's clear that there were a lot of moving pieces and it didn't come together easily," Bettman said.
Under the deal, the Penguins will pay $4.2 million a year for the building, including $2.2 million a year for a 30-year lease. The rest could be funded by naming rights, if not the Penguins will make up that difference.
The team will also contribute $500,000 a year for a new parking garage.
The deal includes $15 million dollars a year in state proceeds from slot machine casinos - half from Don Barden, a Detroit casino owner who is building a slots parlor in Pittsburgh and half in state development money derived from other casino proceeds. No tax money from the city or Allegheny County will be used.
A sticking point to the negotiations, the Penguins and the state will split any costs above the projected $290 million price up to $310 million. The Penguins will bear any costs above that, Rendell said.
The deal also requires the Penguins to negotiate redevelopment rights for Mellon Arena with the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority. Casino owner Barden is also to be included in those discussions.
Fans and players expressed relief that the team - one of the NHL's most attractive franchises - would stay in the city. The Penguins began playing in Pittsburgh in 1967, and won Stanley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992. Their home attendance and local TV ratings are among the strongest of the NHL's 24 U.S.-based franchises.
"I'm sure everyone's happy, especially the fans," said wing Ryan Malone, who grew up in the suburbs because his father, Greg, played then scouted for the Penguins. "Even all the guys really didn't want to leave so, I think, deep down everyone's excited."
"It's going to be nice just to know what's going on and knowing you don't have to talk about it anymore," Crosby said."
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said, "It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh, and it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh for the next 30 years."
Before Tuesday's game against Buffalo, Lemieux walked onto the ice and stood in the spotlight as the crowd gave him a standing ovation, with his name "Mario" in lights on the scoreboard overhead.
A sign in the crowd said, "Hey Kansas City, in case you haven't heard. The Penguins aren't coming."
Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this story.
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