The Penguins asked that all fans attending Friday night’s home opener against the New York Rangers be in there seats early. Those fans were not disappointed when the festivities began.
Stanley Cup highlights were displayed on the roof before four white, giant sheets enclosed the Jumbotron and fans were greeted with a videom, narrated by Pittsburgh’s own Dennis Miller, paying tribute to last season’s remarkable run to a Stanley Cup Championship.
The video began with a flashback to February 14, 2009 when the Penguins squandered a 2-0 lead and fell victim to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2. It then highlighted the arrival of head coach Dan Bylsma, and the most dramatic late-season turnaround in franchise history.
Fans went crazy when the video shifted focus to the playoffs and an exciting opening-round defeat of the rival Philadelphia Flyers, which of course drew the expected boos from Penguins fans. The loudest cheers went to Billy Guerin winning Game 3 by jamming in an overtime winner, and of course Max Talbot hushing Flyers fans after a fight with Daniel Carcillo.
More intensified booing occurred when Washington Captials’ star Alexander Ovechkin was shown on the screen when the video advanced to the Penguins’ second-round series. Those boos turned to cheers when Kris Letang
’s Game 3 overtime-winner was shown. The sight of Ovechkin was met with applause the next time he appeared, when Marc-Andre Fleury
robbed him at the outset of Game 7.
The video reached its crescendo as it progressed to the Stanley Cup Final, and a rematch with the Detroit Red Wings. Those cheers only intensified as the electricity in Mellon Arena went amped up when Jordan Staal
’s series-changing shorthanded goal in Game 4 was shown.
Somehow the roof was still intact when goaltender Fleury’s series-clinching save on Nicklas Lidstrom was shown, and the Stanley Cup celebration was on.
Miller concluded the video by proclaiming, “(The Pens) earned the right to be called…Stanley Cup champions.”
Then, as Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange said, “Ladies and gentlemen…Lord Stanley’s Cup,” the giant sheets dropped to the ice and the Stanley Cup appeared at center ice. Joining the Cup were the Prince of Wales Trophy, Evgeni Malkin
’s Art Ross Trophy and Malkin’s Conn Smythe Trophy.
Following chants of “Let’s Go Pens, Lets’s Go Pens,” FSN television announcer Paul Steigerwald appeared behind a podium to thank the fans for, according to Penguins’ owner Mario Lemieux, ‘being part of the Pens’ family.’
Penguins public address announcer Ryan Mill then welcomed the 2009-10 Penguins onto the ice beginning with, among others, Lemieux, President David Morehouse, CEO Ken Sawyer and General Manager Ray Shero.
Head coach Dan Bylsma was warmly greeted in his first opening night as an NHL head coach.
The players then entered, although this time from the zamboni entrance and not via their usual locker room arrival.
While the usual big names – Sidney Crosby
, Malkin, Staal and Fleury – each drew their typical loud responses, it was Game 7 hero Maxime Talbot who drew the loudest ovation outside the “big four.”
Talbot dressed for the ceremony despite being on the Injured Reserve list due to offseason shoulder surgery.
Pittsburgh fans also proved their cheering is in mid-season form as Ruslan Fedotenko was greeted with chants of “Rooo,” Fleury heard chants of his name, and “Kennedy” was screamed after the announcing of winger Tyler Kennedy
Finally, after 112 days of waiting, the Penguins were ready to raise their third championship banner to the Mellon Arena rafters.
Steigerwald again took over the emceeing as the players surrounded the trophies as fans once again chanted “Let’s Go Pens” and flashbulbs began going off all over the arena.
The 2008-09 banner came out of a box located near the blue line and began its ascent to the Mellon Arena roof. It stopped three-fourths of the way up, where it will remain until it joins the two others won in 1991 and '92.
Popular anthem singer Jeff Jimerson sang the National Anthem, and the final opening night ceremony in Mellon Arena history was complete.