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Party Hard

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Blackhawks have ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by the Fratellis. The Rangers have ‘Slapshot’ by Bad Apple.

This season, thanks to the enthusiastic campaigning of Pens fans, Pittsburgh now has ‘Party Hard’ by Andrew W.K. as their goal song.

“The coolest part of this has been the fellow fans and their dedication,” said Nicholas Doblick, who came up with the idea. “Their dedication when it was summer and hockey was a distant thought and the way they hounded the Pens social media accounts, season ticket questionnaires, any way that they could cause the organization to take notice. We found a window and kicked it in until it became a door.”

It all began during the Pens’ opening-round matchup with the Rangers in last year’s playoffs. At that point, Doblick – a lifelong Pens fan who goes by the Twitter username @psamp – had been thinking about how the team needed a unique goal song of their own, as the one that season was also being used by the Boston Bruins. And to him, ‘Party Hard’ was the perfect fit.

“It’s the perfect song to carry that torch of revolution against jock jams in sports,” Doblick said. “Andrew W.K. provides an atmosphere of love and acceptance, where you can create an identity and be unafraid to stand out, to party hard when everyone else parties within perceived limits.”

The Rangers entered the series as the clear favorite, as they ended the regular season as the league’s best team – winning the Presidents’ Trophy – while the Pens didn’t clinch a playoff spot until the final game. Doblick hoped to provide a spark that could help the underdog Pens to victory, so he posited the idea online.

“On the Internet, when teams lose, fan frustration lives on for eternity,” he explained. “Fans have long voiced their annoyances on sports talk radio and elsewhere, but online you can see it and read it and re-read it. And a certain air of negativity persists in that kind of environment. The Pens lost that series and it was an idea that I refused to let die. The only strategy was to bombard the Pens with as many requests to change the goal song as I could muster.

"My hope was that others would see, approve and join in. By having them work around a positive message and a conceivable change within the organization, fans could theoretically work toward a common goal and forget to be all grumpy.”

And they did just that.

“Over the months of work trying to get this thing noticed, I got to watch a huge portion of Pens fans ditch the complaints, instead rallying around fun,” Doblick said. “Having such a huge chunk of Pittsburgh support my obsessions to the point that they became their obsessions was beautiful.”

Their persistence paid off.

That summer, Penguins manager of new media Andi Perelman started noticing the tweets from fans saying they wanted ‘Party Hard’ to be the goal song. While it was on their radar then, it wasn’t until the fall that the new media department began monitoring the amount of people were mentioning ‘Party Hard.’ And when they realized just how many were talking about it, it was time to take action.

With the team already looking for a new goal song, this presented an opportunity to deliver for the fans.

So when the Pens hosted the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 29 and Pascal Dupuis scored 56 seconds into the game to kick off an eventual 4-3 win, ‘Party Hard’ blasted from the speakers at CONSOL Energy Center and the Internet exploded.

Pens fans rejoiced and immediately began blowing up Doblick, who currently resides in Brooklyn, with tons of tweets letting him know the good news.

“I’ve used the word ‘overwhelming’ to describe Duper’s goal and the immediate aftermath, and it’s really the only one to adequately describe everything since,” Doblick said. “The team had struggled to put together four goals in a game to that point in the season, so watching Pascal, hearing the song, understanding the gravity and then hearing it over and over all game was intense. And to hear the joy in my fellow fans and friends when they realized what had happened, too."

“It was something I wanted to happen, something I need to happen and one that I knew was attainable, with tempered enthusiasm. But to have it all culminate in a moment like that and to deal with it as it happens? It was fun.”

Perelman gives all the credit to Doblick and the rest of the fan base for making this happen.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “It’s something that couldn’t have happened before social media. They all came together and created this fan movement without doing any survey or call to action, they just pulled together on their own and created this two-way street where we were listening and they were telling us what they wanted. We’re always listening, but it’s nice to actually do something to show that we’re listening to the fans and their input is valued here.”

The Pens are now on an insane run in their own building, as they’re on a season-long six-game winning streak and a 10-game unbeaten stretch (8-0-2). The Pens are averaging 4.7 goals a game during their current run, which means ‘Party Hard’ has been playing a lot.

Captain Sidney Crosby has been the one making it go off the most, as he’s talled in nine consecutive home games. Only Mario Lemieux has produced a longer run at home in franchise history.

“It’s a song that we love to hear,” goaltender Jeff Zatkoff said. “It’s one where we didn’t really know much at the beginning but it’s kind of taken off now, especially since our offense is really starting to take off. I think Sid’s starting to feed off a little bit. If he likes it, I don’t think we’re going to be switching it any time soon."

"I like when teams have the same goal song every single time, and one that’s catchy. I think that’s something that’s spread around the league. LA, Chicago, a lot of teams that are successful have the same goal song. It’s nice to know you have that familiar song when something positive happens.”

Hearing that is certainly music to Andrew W.K.’s ears.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I made this music to be used for energy in this kind of situation. So it’s a dream come true and it’s what the song wanted for itself as well.”

And tonight, the artist himself will be in the stands seeing his song blast out.

“I saw the tweets right away and was obviously very honored and humbled and pleased that anyone liked the song enough to want to hear it at all, let alone make it a goal song,” he said. “But I never thought that the Penguins team themselves would make it the goal song."

“I remember after many months of these grassroots efforts, someone told me they actually did make it the song. And I said no, there’s no way, that can’t be true. But it was true, and now here I am celebrating it in person. I’m beyond excited and very thankful.”

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