Friday, November 1, 2013

East Hatred: Pittsburgh Penguins

They day is *FINALLY* here!!!

It's time to get our hate on for the Pittsburgh Penguins. And more importantly, their bandwagon jumping, front running fans. "We do not bandwagon jump here in Pittsburgh!" say the Pittsburgh fans currently clad head to toe in Pirates gear.

Any Pens fan can recall the 1990-91 and 91-92 seasons, and why wouldn't they? To be fair, any team's fans will remember the first time their team won a Stanley Cup. (Except for Blews fans! HAHAHAHAHA!!)  But try this, ask a Pens fan to name 3 players on those two Cup winning teams, it'll go like this...

"Mario!! Jagr!! And...and..."

It's fun, try it. Maybe you'll get lucky and you'll get a Pens fan that can remember such marginal players as Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier, Joey Mullen, or Tom Barrasso. Odds are not in your favor, though.

OK, those teams are 22 years ago, so try it with the more recent 2009 Cup winning roster. Once again, ask your Life Long Penguins Fan friend to name 3 players on the team that won the Cup just 5 seasons ago. It'll go like this...

"Crosby!! Malkin!! And...and..."

You can try and help. "Gonchar?" [blank stare]

"Guerin?" [slight squinting]

"Letang?" [You know that head-tilt thing a puppy does when confused? That.]

Jumping on the bandwagon is the easy part, but when Pens fans get off the bandwagon, oh my does it empty in a hurry. Mario retires: Bandwagon empties. Mario unretires: Bandwagon full. Mario retires again: Bandwagon empty. Pens rack up 58 points 2 seasons in a row: Bandwagon has all seats available. [Lockout] Pens benefit from fixed draft lottery to save the team: a couple people hop on board, one of which is Jim Balsillie.

There's a little something most Pens fans have forgotten about with their recent winning (and packed bandwagon). The Pens were the first target for Balsillie to purchase and move to Hamilton...and it wasn't because of the Pens winning ways at the time. They were about to be let go cheap.

Let's fast forward to this season for a little more fickleness, after dropping 3 games it was time to fire Blysma. Yup, sitting on top of the East at the time after opening the season 7-1, the Men of the Monongahela lost 3 straight games and it's time to fire the coach. Maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing?

What about the Jackets history with the Pens, their fans, and the bandwagon?

We can start way back in year 1 of our wonderful franchise and the Pens first visit on February 17, 2001. The day the schedule was announced, Jacket message boards were filled with Pens fans looking for tickets on February 17. Remember: Mario had just unretired, so the bandwagon was near maximum capacity. The game turned out to be a pretty good one, too. Mario played (something we as Jacket fans missed with Gretzky) and the Pens pulled it out in OT. Ask one of the Pens fans who attended the game - there are probably about 24,326 Pens fans who claim to have been there to see Mario in person - and they'll recall it as a blow out where the Pens just had their way with the upstart Jackets.

What Jacket fans should remember about that game: It was the NHL debut for one Jody Shelley. If you recall, the very stable and lovable Krzysztof Oliwa was shipped out of Columbus earlier that year and was returning as a member of the Penguins. Jody made his one and only appearance as a Blue Jacket that year, racking up 1:33 in ice time and 10 minutes in the box. But he most decidedly did the job he was called up to do.

More recent history will have Jackets fan recalling the debacle on Dec 4th, 2010. Just one season removed from winning the Cup, the Pens bandwagon was completely full. 87 and 71 jerseys couldn't stay on the shelves. The bandwagon pulled up in front of Nationwide arena that night and the Pens fans basically took over. Zamboni rides, chanting in the stands, and a 7-2 ass whipping made it a really painful night for the Columbus faithful. If memories of that evening don't start the bile rising in Jacket fans' throats, nothing will.

Outside of those two games there really has been very little excitement with the Pens and their fans here in Columbus. Why? Mainly because the years in between the Jackets either won the home games or the Pens had no fans because they weren't winning at the time. It was a lot harder to find a Life Long Pens Fan in 2002. It was also a lot harder to have Pens fans in the building when the Pens didn't visit between December 2002 and January 2006. (Wow, not visiting for over three years? Who do they think they are? The Maple Leafs??)

Enjoy the back-to-back games, Jackets Fan. And pray for a win on Saturday because the Pens bandwagon is full and we can't fill our own barn this season, so there will be a mess of 87 and 71 jerseys in Nationwide. If you see a Pens fan in a 58 jersey, shake his or her hand, they are probably an actual hockey fan.


  1. Did you just call Tom Barrasso marginal? He should be in the Hall of Fame! Another forgotten great from those 90s Pens teams was Kevin Stevens- he scored more goals and points than Mario or Jagr during their first 2 cups...
    I'm a Jackets fan for life, too- I just live closer to the Pens...It's tough to hate on the team, though- it seems their presence in Ohio (even in pee-wee leagues) is stronger than the Jackets-

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  2. Barrasso in HOF? Maybe after Mike Vernon. The bandwagon crowd, the point of this article, likely doesn't remember Stevens for anything other than his shattered face and cocaine addiction. Poor guy need help...

  3. You know what happens when you assume. Although I agree many are bandwagon fans, it is a very bad assumption that all Pens fans are bandwagon fans. I have the Stanley Cup t-shirt from 1990. In my son's first 10 words came out "Go Mario U." My son can name the Pens roster with name, number, and position of the 2009 team.

  4. Forget Barasso, please tell me you did not just call Trottier and Francis marginal players?!?!? I am a CBJ fan but there are some of us out there that followed hockey pre-1999.

    1. I was just about to say...Francis...MARGINAL? Dude was one of the best centers in the league, he just happened to play behind Mario.

  5. Next stop : 500! Come on! Don't fail me now!

    - Joe in Vancouver


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