Many have had this debate in the past, claiming their team and home is the best place for hockey in the National Hockey League.
Detroit owns the title, “HockeyTown USA.” However, the Red Wings have struggled to sell out games in recent years and are subjected to a decent number of visiting fans in the stands every game, regular season and playoffs. Take this year’s Stanley Cup Finals as THE prime example.
This Stanley Cup Final, the second in a row involving Pittsburgh, has brought to my attention that the title of ‘HockeyTown’ needs to relocate.
Some have have pushed for the consecutive sellout streak in Minnesota, filling every game since the team returned to Minneapolis. Others vouch for the rabid fans in Buffalo and the Orange Crush in Philadelphia.
Here’s my push. Yes, it’s a biased one for the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, with the recent playoff run and becoming Stanley Cup Champions it’s hard to imagine a better candidate.
What do you do when you can’t sell out your arena and are about to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals? Ask your opponent if they’d like some tickets, of course!
At least that’s the theme with Detroit these days. Heck, the Pistons had to ask the city of Cleveland to do the same in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
But come on. This isn’t the first round of a series that is decided before it even starts! This is the STANLEY CUP FINALS! The battle for the GREATEST TROPHY IN SPORTS!
And ‘HockeyTown’ can’t sell out Joe Louis Arena?
Now, I understand that Detroit is a city that’s suffering maybe more than any other in the United States in the current economic downfall. But that’s just one of the many reasons a different city should be named the new ‘HockeyTown USA.’
Who really wants to visit Detroit? I mean, the only time I’ve been there was to pass through, normally to somewhere much better. Windsor, for instance, right across the river is a great choice (when you’re a 19-year-old sophomore in college and can’t join many of your friends at the bar in the United States).
If we’re picking a city that differs in that sense … well, I’ve got an idea …
If that’s not beauty I don’t know what is.
Whatever we say, or anyone else says, Detroit will likely never remove ‘HockeyTown’ from the center ice of Joe Louis Arena. Regardless, I think it’s obvious that Pittsburgh is the new ‘HockeyTown.’
It appears a dynasty is in the making here. Most of the pivotal pieces to the championship puzzle are locked down for the long term. With GM Ray Shero at the helm as well, we can count on more good off-season and trade-deadline moves that give the Pens a chance to win the Cup in the coming years.
Now, there are good contenders to Pittsburgh for being the new ‘HockeyTown.’ To start, you have to go up in to Canada.
Toronto is an obvious choice. They have a tremendous fan base and the Hockey Hall of Fame is there. However, their team is beginning a serious rebuilding movement. It appears that things are going to get much worse before they get much better there (not unlike the Pens a few years ago).
Montreal is another good choice. Again, a tremendous fanbase. Heck, the Canadiens are the most revered franchise in hockey — if not all of sports. Since 1915, they have won at least one Stanley Cup title in every decade. Working against them is the fact that they have one last chance to keep that streak going (next year).
It doesn’t appear likely. And if you compare the Canadiens to the Penguins, there are now three titles in the Steel City since 1992, compared to one in Montreal. I mean, it’s bad when your fans riot because of a first-round victory in the playoffs …
Moving to the U.S., I believe there are really two good candidates: Minnesota and Buffalo. Both teams have great fanbases and sell out games left and right. The problem with both teams is the fact that neither have experience any significant success. The last Stanley Cup contender in Minnesota was back when the Pens beat the Northstars in 1991. As for Buffalo … never won a Cup.
So say hello, NHL, to the new ‘HockeyTown’ USA: Pittsburgh, PA! Being that the Steeltown is once agains the City of Champions, it’s only fitting that we take the ‘HockeyTown’ title as well.
If there are still questions regarding whether our city is HockeyTown, let these pictures firm it up a little more. No city in the entire NHL has this …
Here’s how it sounded as Game three came to and end. And the crowd was about 3,000 people stronger for Game 4 …
LET’S GO PENS! Can’t wait for training camp to open in about two and-a-half months!!!
Chris | PPT