Pittsburgh once again celebrated her champions with a parade yesterday at noon, three days after the Penguins won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings. Yes, there was that crowd of 27,565 welcoming them home from Detroit with the Cup, but the turnout for the parade exceeded the projected 350,000. Pretty darn good for a predominantly football manically-minded like Pittsburgh.
It’s funny but when you’re a sports fan, isn't everything is measured by big events instead of hours, days and weeks? And this parade is also following another such moment – the Steelers victory over the Arizona Cardinals in February of this year brought the Super Bowl championship title back to the 'Burgh as well. Now the Penguins, after a long 17-year wait, have brought the Stanley Cup back. How are the Pirates doing? Anyone know? Will this be a trifecta kind of year for that fair city, or will it only extend to the black and golds?
I can’t concern myself with any of that though, not in a large way at least. Yes, I love the city and wish everything good for it. But I am a hockey fan. Not a sports fan, but a hockey fan. My joy comes from the knowledge that my team in my adopted hometown have defied the odds and won the Stanley Cup.
What happened to the inevitable Wings win? The win everyone, sports gurus and hardcore fans included, said was going to happen? Ah, the Wings have experience on their side. They have premium players – not just two beginners, but many Olympic caliber star players. How could a Penguins team that was still too young and lacking in experience ever win the Cup? One year in the playoffs wasn’t going to serve them well enough.
So how come that young team was hoisting the Cup after game seven? Because they had some secret weapons that’s why. One, they lost a player (Marian Hossa) who may have cost them the win, since he ended up playing for Detroit. And two, they got rid of a coach that was disliked and replaced him with one who actually cared about the team as a whole and not just one player. Dan Bylsma got a chance to prove he had the strength and spirit to propel this young team to the Cup. He did not disappoint. He put together a blueprint for a win which the team trusted and followed. These Penguins are more relentless than they are dramatic or resourceful. The genius of their plan is its simplicity.