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Notebook: Pens Rank 1st In Fan Relations

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins rank No. 1 in the NHL in fan relations, according to annual fan satisfaction rankings published in the current edition of ESPN The Magazine.

The Penguins rank third overall in fan relations among 122 major professional sports franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

This is the sixth year that ESPN The Magazine has published its “Ultimate Standings: Fan Satisfaction Rankings.” According to the magazine’s website, ESPN surveyed more than 80,000 fans across the nation and commissioned a nationwide poll by Markitecture, Inc. The rankings “combine results from extensive fan surveys with an analysis of how teams use fan money.”

 “This is a great honor, because we also think our fans are No. 1 in the NHL,” said Penguins president David Morehouse.

Teams were judged in eight categories: Fan Relations, Bang for the Buck, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coach/Manager and Title Track.

In the overall Ultimate Standings, the Penguins ranked seventh in the NHL, and 24th among the 122 major pro franchises.

Last year, the Penguins were 11th in the NHL and 35th overall.

PENGUINS EAGER TO GET GOING

After enduring eight days without any game action, the Penguins are eager to open their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Rangers at Mellon Arena on Friday night.

“It’s felt like training camp all over again. It seemed like it was three weeks long,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “We’ve had some good skates and we’re kind of getting sick of practicing. I think everyone is ready to finally get back in game action here.”

ROBERTS HOPES TO RETURN

Gary Roberts, who missed Games 3 and 4 against Ottawa with a sore groin, hopes to return to the lineup Friday.

“I felt a lot better (Thursday. It was nice to get back out there. It’s been tough sledding a few days. Hopefully, I will be OK for Friday night,” he said. “The bottom line is you have to be able to skate. Against a team like that with the ability they have, I don’t want to be a liability out there. We’ll see if everything goes well and there are no setbacks (Friday), I will be in the lineup.

And, contrary to popular lore, Roberts does get worn out after practices like Thursday’s.

“I get tired, yeah,” he admitted. “I pushed myself pretty hard.”

PENS TV ON DEMAND

The second episode of “Road to the Cup,” featuring Penguins broadcasters Mike Lange and Phil Bourque, is now available at no additional cost to all Comcast digital cable customers. To access the program, fans may select the “Your Town” category from the On Demand menu and then the “Sports/Pens TV/Playoffs” folder.

The show will recap the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and preview the team’s second-round series against the New York Rangers as well as the other three second-round matchups.

New episodes of “Road to the Cup” will be presented throughout the Penguins’ Stanley Cup playoff run as part of the dynamic On Demand content in the Pens TV folder. Other programming available includes:

The entire Inside Penguins Hockey inventory from this season (Shows folder).

Post-game comments from the Penguins locker room (Game Day folder)

Post-game comments from coach Michel Therrien (Game Day folder)

Memorable moments from the regular season, including the Paul Coffey Penguins Hall of Fame induction ceremony and a recap of the NHL Winter Classic (Events folder).

A “500 goals” tribute to Mario Lemieux, Mark Recchi and Joe Mullen (Team folder)

Features on the Penguins’ Summer Sticks charity golf tournament and glimpses of the Penguins in the community at Boys & Girls Clubs, Children’s Hospital and Make-A-Wish (Community folder).

BABY PENS LOSE FIRST PLAYOFF GAME

Hershey posted a 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday night in Game 4 of their AHL East Division Semifinal game.

The Baby Penguins own a 3-1 series lead and can advance with a home win Friday over Hershey.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Chris Minard tipped home his second goal of the evening with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, only to see Alexandre Giroux post his second of the night 20 seconds into the extra frame, giving the Hershey Bears a 3-2 win.

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