Skip to main content
news

Penguins video follows run to Stanley Cup

Film premiere shows 'how this team develops as a group'

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins' official Stanley Cup championship video begins with a blurry shot of downtown that slowly comes into focus.

Those first few seconds mirror the Penguins' transition from 12th in the Eastern Conference midway through the regular season to NHL champions.

About 1,000 fans paid $10, with proceeds going to the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, and packed Stage AE, a concert venue on the North Shore, to watch the film's premiere Wednesday.

Evan Neel, its feature producer, said a premiere is usually held in a theater, but the level of interest in "Stanley Cup 2016 Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins" required more space.

"It speaks to the fan base that we're in a concert venue," said Neel, who was raised in the city's South Hills. "The best part of these premieres is always watching the fans react to the goals that they've already seen happen and know are happening, and they react again."

Video: PIT@SJS: Crosby, Pens celebrate fourth Stanley Cup

They were greeted by an opening monologue from retired Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, whose career ended Dec. 8 because of a medical condition related to blood clots. That led into 65 minutes showcasing Pittsburgh's journey to its fourth Stanley Cup championship, and first since 2009.

Highlights included the offseason acquisitions of forwards Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen; coach Mike Sullivan's hiring on Dec. 12; and the formation of the "HBK' Line," made up of forwards Carl Hagelin, Bonino and Kessel.

Each garnered a loud ovation before the film's second half focused on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, capped by a 3-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Cup Final.

It was a long, sometimes turbulent, road to a championship, which Neel admitted was difficult to appropriately capture.

"I think the challenge of that was definitely kind of figuring out where the team melded," Neel said. "There's always high expectations on this team, and especially when you have two of the best players in the world [centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin], the expectations are always going to be to win the Stanley Cup year in and year out.

"The tricky thing was [general manager] Jim Rutherford sort of rebuilt a lot of this team going into this season, and the team went through a major change and melded with the coaching change. I think that's what you'll get out of the interviews too. You'll see how this team develops as a group."

Video: Obama calls Coach Sullivan to congratulate the Pens

The crowd began filtering into the venue at 7 p.m., about an hour before the film began. The event was co-hosted by PensTV host Josh Getzoff and former Pittsburgh forward Colby Armstrong, who discussed his time as Crosby's road roommate and told tales of wrestling matches between the two.

The Conn Smythe, Prince of Wales and General Manager of the Year trophies were displayed near copies of the Blu-ray/DVD combo and Stanley Cup Champions T-shirts for sale.

The Penguins' mascot, Iceburgh, greeted the crowd while stopping for pictures and receiving high-fives.

It was a scene many didn't expect to happen when Pittsburgh was slumping through December. Several fans admitted they were pleasantly surprised.

"Did I feel at the beginning of the season we would be sitting here? No," Jim Mazza said. "But at the end of the season, after the coaching change and what I saw [Sullivan] do with the team, I had underlying feelings that we had a chance at that. After the first or second series, I thought we were going to go. I really did."

Pittsburgh's push through the playoffs warranted that level of confidence. For most fans at the premiere, the good times the season provided won't be forgotten anytime soon and, thanks to the film, will remain fresh in their memories.

"The best part of winning a championship is getting to look back on it and celebrate the victory all summer until next season," Ryan Tappe said. "It definitely encapsulated what went on, all the storylines, because there were so many. It was great."

View More