Sunday, October 11, 2009

Welcome Back Stanley!

by Jan Snyder

The Penguins did the banner-raising right, that’s for sure. I traveled to Pittsburgh to attend Opening Night for the Penguins and Rangers. “It was a dark and stormy night” to quote many bad writers, but the rain didn’t keep the fans from whooping it up, showing their enthusiasm for the start of the season.

Jen, Jim and I got there relatively early because we wanted to be sure to be in our seats and not miss a minute of any of the celebration. The first thing I noticed was what looked like draperies hanging around the scoreboard. The teams took their pre-game skate, the Zambonis did their thing, and then the celebration began. The Rangers left the ice, not to return until the drop of the puck, despite the fact that Coach Tortorelli was quoted in the papers as saying he wanted his team on the ice to see what they will be working towards. The Pens said later that “logistics” kept the Rangers off the ice during the ceremony.

What I thought were draperies fell to the ice and magically became a four-sided video screen where the audience was treated to a recap of the playoffs, culminating with Sidney Crosby taking the Cup to the other players. After that, the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Stanley Cup!” The “draperies” fell from the top of the scoreboard to the ice, revealing Stanley in all his glory. What a breath taking sight! There it was, back after 17 long years, in Pittsburgh with the Pens.

They rolled out the red carpet and the first to grace it with his presence was none other than Mario Lemieux, freshly back from Toronto where he helped open the season with some of the other members of Team Canada. The other brass made their way to their places on the red carpet. Coach Dan Bylsma received a rousing ovation from the grateful fans.

From the other side of the ice, the Zamboni entrance opened and each member of the Penguins was introduced to wild cheers from the crowd. The newest Pens were “welcomed to Pittsburgh” and even though they hadn’t been members of the Cup-winning team, they were given big kudos as well.

Max Talbot, who scored two goals in Game Seven of the Finals, had shoulder surgery and won’t be playing until mid-November. But he still “dressed” for the game and when he was announced, the crowd went wild! Max did so many good things in the playoffs and the fans fondly remembered every one – from the goals to the big fight against the Flyers. The only ones who got as much applause as Max did were Crosby, Malkin and Fleury. There was plenty of love and good will to go around to everyone! Even though I watched almost every game from the comfort of my living room in Texas, it was nice to be able to cheer and let the boys know how much I appreciated all their hard work.

The players were asked to move to the other side of the ice where the Cup and some other trophies were placed on tables. As the team gathered around to watch, the banner was raised to the rafters, much to everyone’s delight. But then, the 2008-09 season officially ended and a new one began.

The game started and the team looked pretty much in control on their way to beating the Rangers to end a terrific night for the fans and players.

The team traveled on to Long Island after the game. We traveled back to Mellon Arena on Saturday night, just as the puck was dropping against the Islanders. We were back to get a “Snaphot with Stanley”. The line was very long, but everyone was in a good mood and anxious for their turn with the trophy.

As the never-ending line of jersey-clad fans snaked though the concourse of the Arena, we were able to see a TV occasionally and listen to the game on cell phones. Just as we reached the entrance to the ice, the Pens tied the game and we saw the most exciting part on the Jumbotron as we stood in line. When we were only about four turns away from ours, someone from the Pens took Jim’s camera to make sure he knew how to use it. He took a photo of just the Cup, then about three of us surrounding it.

All in the Family! Jan Snyder, her daughter and son in law, Jen and Jim

No matter how many times I see the Stanley Cup, it’s always a thrill – and this time especially because it was “ours” for this year. To see the excitement on Jen and Jim’s faces was special too, since this was the first time they had seen Stanley up close and personal. We watched overtime and the shootout from Pens Station, the Penguins store. The Pens took their record to 2-0 when Letang and Crosby scored in the shootout.

The next day, Jen cropped the photos and we went to Ritz Camera to have the picture printed on nice photo paper. I brought my copy home with me to show everyone.

Both days were great days for hockey!!

1 comment:

  1. Jan, thanks for the great story! I'm sure fans of the 29 other NHL teams are very envious right now!!! I know this Canucks fan is ;o)