One week later, Pens Fever Still high

 

A week ago tonight, this was the scene. Heartbreaking for the fans, the players, management and ownership–yet stirring, encouraging, and touching. 

 

 

Just before I took this, the Pens had saluted the crowd, and they roared back their appreciation and affection. Then the celebration began. I turned to Guy Junker, and commented on my surprise that the crowd remained. And he correctly pointed out that these Pittsburgh fans had never seen a Stanley Cup celebration in person. Both the Cups in the early 90’s had been won away from home. I had seen the first one, standing next to the Cup as it was ready to be wheeled out onto the ice for Mario and company. It was amazing, historic, full of tradition. And last week, most of the fans were respectful, some even applauding. But when Henrik Zetterberg hoisted the Conn Smythe, there were boos,

and the same as some of the Redwings skated around with the Cup aloft. What was interesting, is that my phone immediately registered a text from a friend–a rabid Pens fan–who complained how classless the boos were. Everyone else echoed those sentiments as we exited. I can only conclude that the booers were definitely in the minority, but just yelled more loudly.  

A week later, folks just can’t let go of this team. The sports talk shows are dominated with free agency and trade talk–rumors that Columbus wants Malone and Orpik?! Some fans suggesting trading Malkin? But without exception, every pundit I have heard has underscored the importance of keeping Fleury.  Unbelievable that this man is only 23,  and played a game for the ages in Game 5! 

It is the kind of play that inspires devotion thousands of miles away, where thoughts of home are precious. This is a picture sent me by a Pittsburgh Police officer. I have done two stories about Tim Crane (the man just to the right of the t-shirt)–one when he was a K-9 officer, and one just before he left for Afghanistan as a reservist. Tim is serving as a chaplain with the 911th Airlift Wing. His beloved partner, Madchen,  died several months ago, but he believes that she is still keeping him safe, just like she did on the streets of Pittsburgh. I am sure those games were a welcome distraction for Tim, and the men and women who sacrifice so much for all of us. 

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