Normally, Penguins fans would have to travel approximately five-and-a-half hours to get up close and personal with famous trophies won by Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby
Not this week.
As part of the weeklong celebration of hockey leading up to the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the Hockey Hall of Fame brought an exhibit all the way from Toronto, Ont., to the Carnegie Science Center & Highmark SportsWorks.
The center is located directly across the street from Heinz Field, where the outdoor game will be played at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve been working on (the exhibit) over the past four months,” Phil Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Vice President and Curator, told PittsburghPenguins.com. “The Winter Classic is a big thing, and with Pittsburgh and the die-hard hockey fans they have, it’s more than just a game – it’s a whole celebration.”
The exhibit, which began on Monday, includes every trophy ever won by an individual Penguin. That adds up to basically every major award when you have players like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin
and of course, Lemieux.
It also includes a plethora of memorabilia from the Penguins’ entire 43-year history, like Lemieux’s 1988 NHL All-Star game jersey and the stick Maxime Talbot used in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
The exhibit also has artifacts from Team USA, the Washington Capitals, famous NHL goaltenders, and an entire Wayne Gretzky display. There’s also interactive hockey games in the Highmark SportsWorks.
“To come up with a display that focuses on the history of the game and the Penguins and the Capitals and the Winter Classic and to partner up with Carnegie Science Center, it’s pretty amazing,” Pritchard said.WATCH: Hockey Hall of Fame Exhibit Video brought to you by PensTV >>
But perhaps the highlight of the entire exhibit will be when the Stanley Cup comes on Thursday and stays till the exhibit closes on Friday.
Ron and Joanne Waite are both originally from Pittsburgh and currently reside in Canton, Ohio. They returned to Pennsylvania for the holidays, but said they may need to postpone their trip back home in order to see the famous silver chalice.
“We might end up staying,” said Joanne.
"I like it," she said of the exhibit. "I think it gets people more interested in it. It kind of brings it up for the big game. And I think the littler ones kind of get excited about it too."
The Waite family was part of a large crowd clustered around the trophy display on Monday. The area was packed just a few hours after the center opened its doors at 10 a.m.
“We’ve only been open for a couple hours, but the response has been really, really good so far,” said Stephen Kovacs, Director of Visitor Services. “This is always our busiest week of the year, and I think this has just increased it.”
While some knew about of the exhibit ahead of time, many families came to the Science Center just for something to do over the holiday break. They were pleasantly surprised to see the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit.
“We just came because my mom had the idea to come down here,” said Jacob Koon, 9, of Cranberry Township. “She didn’t know that all of this stuff was here. She really likes hockey, so she said ‘Let’s go to the Hall of Fame exhibit,’ so we came and it was really cool.”
This is the first such exhibit the Hockey Hall of Fame has done prior to a Winter Classic, and Pritchard said Pittsburgh was the perfect place to try such an endeavor for a number of reasons.
“You don’t get a lot of places that have a science center right beside the field, so it’s perfect,” Pritchard said. “We have interactive hockey games here, we have the trophies, we have displays. So the setting here is perfect. School’s off this week, families are home and they’re all thinking hockey.
“We knew how great of sports fans Pittsburghers are when we walked up this morning before 10 a.m. and the line was way out the door. It was a bigger eye-opener than we thought. The people of Pittsburgh have embraced hockey for so long. To have this as part of it, it’s a neat part of the season.”Dates and times that the Hockey Hall of Fame Exhibit will be open:
Dec. 28 from 10 am – 7 pm
Dec. 29 from 10 am – 6 pm
Dec. 30 and 31 from 9 am – 8 pm: The Stanley Cup will be on display!Address of the Carnegie Science Center & Highmark SportsWorks:
One Allegheny Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212Click here for more information!