Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2009, 02

Sidney Crosby and some of his teammates and coaching staff brought the Stanley Cup to the Pittsburgh Pirates game.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)
The day began with coach Dan Bylsma conducting a media conference at the arena while much of the team gathered at the rink in preparation to head over to the ballpark for an afternoon with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A police escort led the Penguins over to PNC Park where, since 2001, it has been home to the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates. The curious parallels of the day weren't lost on the hockey team. Having just beaten the Detroit Red Wings for the Stanley Cup, they were about to enjoy an afternoon with their sporting brethren, Pittsburgh's Pirates, taking on the Detroit Tigers. Kismet! Irony!

Sidney Crosby, along with several of his teammates and their kids, went into the Pirates' clubhouse before the game. The baseball players were excited to see the Stanley Cup. "Damn, this trophy is sure a lot better than baseball's trophy," laughed Charlie Morton.

Marc-Andre Fleury is all smiles while hoisting the Stanley Cup.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)
Pirates' coach John Russell spent a few minutes huddling with Dan Bylsma while the rest mingled, ogling the Cup. That Sunday afternoon, the Pirates were sporting their heritage uniforms, and they gave all the Pens game jerseys to wear out onto the field.

With the Cup situated in the dugout, the Penguins were introduced individually. Waving to the fans, the boys garnered huge applause in recognition of their feat. When Sidney was introduced, he walked up the steps with the Stanley Cup, and the ovation reached a new plateau that grew even louder when he lifted the magnificent trophy over his head.

Bill Guerin delivered the ceremonial first pitch, firing a strike (more or less) to initiate the ballgame. The hockey boys stayed to watch most of the game, bringing the Pirates good luck as they went on to double Detroit 6-3, with Zach Duke picking up the victory.

Fans cheer on Sidney Crosby who kisses the Stanley Cup during the Stanley Cup Champion victory parade.
(Phil Pritchard/HHOF)
As the ninth inning neared, the Penguins left for a team party and barbecue at the home of team owner Mario Lemieux.

* * *

On Monday, June 15, the Stanley Cup was front and centre in a battery of photographs. The boys had their official team portrait taken with the Cup, followed by photographs of every other conceivable configuration.

Once the last of the poses was taken, it was time for the City of Pittsburgh to fete its newest champions. It was a terrific day for a civic parade, and the city was in the mood to celebrate. The parade route for the Penguins was identical to the route the city used when they celebrated the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory.

Fans cheer on their Penguins during the Stanley Cup Champion victory parade. (Craig Campbell/HHOF)
Long recognized as a blue collar football town, there was no doubt that Pittsburgh is every bit a hockey town (note the lower case). In fact, the estimated 375,000 parade attendees eclipsed the numbers that turned out for the Steelers' championship parade last February. From the early days of expansion in 1967 with celebrated alumni such as Les Binkley and Bugsy Watson, Pittsburgh has loved its NHL hockey, and the city's support reaches back to defunct teams like the Hornets, the Yellow Jackets and yes, even hockey's version of the Pirates from the 1920s.

The parade began at noon and wound its way through the downtown core, where fans sporting black and gold jerseys hollered in celebration while throwing confetti. Captain Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury rode with the Stanley Cup in one truck while not far away in another vehicle, Evgeni Malkin clutched the Conn Smythe Trophy. Mario Lemieux, enjoying his third Stanley Cup celebration (two as a player and one as an executive) rode in a white convertible through the crowded downtown streets.

Evgeni Malkin with the Conn Smythe trophy at his side during the Stanley Cup Champion victory parade.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)
The parade route ended near The Point, where a stage had been set up for the second portion of the civic celebration. Broadcaster Mike Lang greeted the throng of supporters. Coach Dan Bylsma brought a monstrous ovation of appreciation when he shouted, "It's unbelievable, bringing this trophy back to Pittsburgh, the City of Champions!" General manager Ray Shero also addressed the cheering crowd, with the team grinning in the background.

Mario Lemieux, as popular a figure in Pittsburgh as there is, took the microphone and stated, "Finally, after seventeen years, the Stanley Cup is back where it belongs -- right here in the City of Pittsburgh!"

With his mother and father looking on from the stage along with his teammates, Sidney Crosby stepped up to the mic amidst a roar that approximated a Jumbo jet in the midst of take-off. "This has been an unbelievable year from the start," he said. "We get to enjoy a great summer and a championship!" Crosby promised the crowd that they were in for future championships, too. "We want to go for more!" he vowed.

Evgeni Malkin pours champagne into the bowl of the Stanley Cup.
(Craig Campbell/HHOF)

The crowd slowly dispersed, delighted with the day. The team left The Point for a party at the home of CEO Ken Sawyer. Afterwards, Sidney Crosby said goodnight to his teammates and took the Stanley Cup home for the night.

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The next day, Tuesday, June 16, the Stanley Cup returned to the Mellon Arena so that the entire staff could get their pictures taken with hockey's greatest prize. Then, the Cup was taken to the roof of the current arena so it could look out across the way to where the new arena is being built.

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Come on back and join us Tuesday as the Journal takes us to Tyler Kennedy's day with the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup Journal will keep you updated all summer long as the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate their exciting victory.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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