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Stanley Cup gear ready for both Red Wings, Pens @NHLdotcom

DETROIT (AP) - Start the presses!

The day after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Detroit to force Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals, a couple hundred championship T-shirts with their logo and colors were made to go along with ones already produced for the Red Wings.

Pittsburgh's victory on Tuesday night at home forced Detroit to keep its T-shirts in a box and bottles of champagne on ice.

What happens to the T-shirts made for the team that loses Friday night?

"The customers have to sign a waiver that they'll send them back or destroy them," said John Wangler, who owns the Michigan-based company Top Cat Sales that distributed licensed products for Reebok. "If they send them back, and teams usually do, we end up sending them to a third-world country."

Wangler, a star quarterback at Michigan three decades ago, said his company will have at least 30,000 Stanley Cup championship T-shirts available for sale by Saturday.

"We make the call on when to start the presses, but sometimes we have to wait until the game is over," Wangler said. "In the last Super Bowl when the Steelers had a big lead, we started the presses. When Arizona rallied, we stopped them. Then, we fired them back up."


CHANGE OF VENUE: Sidney Crosby says it's not because of superstition - wink, wink - but the Penguins are switching hotels in Detroit again just as they did for their previous visit.

They're going back to the hotel where they stayed when they won Game 5 of the finals last year.

"It's tough getting hotels on short notice," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of staying in a third hotel in as many trips to Detroit. "So I'm sure it has something to do with availability."

Maybe those 3-1, 3-1 and 5-0 losses during their first two trips to Detroit did, too.

"We decided to switch hotels again and we'll find a way to have success there," Crosby said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that."


TOO FEW TO MENTION?: Detroit forward Marian Hossa was asked if he would have regrets if things didn't turn out his way against the Penguins, and he didn't come up with a convincing answer.

"To tell you the truth, I don't think about it right now," Hossa insisted. "So far, it's been great."

Hossa hasn't scored against his former teammates in the finals and his last goal was in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

He turned down a longer and more lucrative contract from the runner-up Penguins to sign a one-year deal with the defending champions, but has tried to tell reporters that improving his chances to win the Cup wasn't the only reason he came to Detroit.


MURPHY'S MALAISE: Hall of Famer Larry Murphy will be happy for the winner and sorry for the loser when Game 7 is decided.

Murphy played in five postseasons for the Penguins, helping them hoist the Cup in 1991 and '92. The former defenseman also made five runs in the playoffs with the Red Wings, assisting on their consecutive titles in 1997 and '98.

"I'm torn because of my association and great years I had with both clubs," he said. "The day before Game 7, you can feel the pressure in the building. I played in Game 7s, but never in the finals. I can only imagine how these guys are trying to hold it together. I'm sure these have been a tough couple of days. It's a battle to relax. You're better off not thinking about it, if you can."

So who's Murphy rooting for?

"I'm objective," said Murphy, who is working during the finals as an analyst for the NHL Network. "There's no room for picking teams in my gut.

"I catch myself thinking, 'Boy, how great is it going to be to win for one team and how tough will it be for the other team."'


EERIE SIMILIARITIES: The last time the home team won every game in the finals was 2003, when Detroit's Mike Babcock was Anaheim's coach and Dan Bylsma was one of his players as the Ducks lost Game 7 at New Jersey.

If Detroit wins on Friday, the home team will sweep every game in this series.

Bylsma, who began the season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL, is trying to become the 14th rookie head coach and only the fourth since 1956 to win the Stanley Cup. He would be the second to win it after taking over during the season, joining Al MacNeil of Montreal in 1971.

Coincidentally, MacNeil's team was the last to win Game 7 on the road - since then, road teams are 0-6 - and the only one of the 32 teams to previously lose the first two games on the road and recover to win the Stanley Cup.

Bylsma acknowledges it's been a whirlwind season. At this time a year ago, he was trying to hook on as a head coach in the minors.

"My family has come to see me and it's like, 'Can you believe what is happening? Can you believe?' And I'm like, 'Not really, I can't believe it,"' Bylsma said. "I'm not a person who likes to deny my thoughts or what I'm going through or ignore everything around me. It's a unique opportunity."


OVECHKIN'S COVER: Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Crosby and the Penguins, but that Game 7 loss hasn't kept the MVP finalist from stardom.

Ovechkin, who led the NHL with 56 goals, will be featured as the cover athlete and spokesman for the video game NHL 2K10.

"It's a good time to be Ovie!" Ovechkin said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Thursday. "I can't wait to put some of my moves in there."


ONE-TIMERS: Pittsburgh is not ruling out F Petr Sykora (foot) for Game 7 even though he was on crutches after Game 6 and didn't practice Thursday in Pittsburgh. Sykora, benched since Game 2 of the second round despite scoring 25 goals during the season, was injured blocking a shot Tuesday. Last year in Game 5 at Detroit, Sykora scored midway through the third overtime. ... At on Thursday night, a seller was asking for $8,622 per ticket in the seventh row for Game 7 and one wanted $549 per ticket in the 24th row of the upper bowl.


AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh and AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell in Detroit contributed to this report.

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