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Pens Deliver Season Tickets, Helped by Lord Stanley

by Sam Kasan and Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Kevin Lestitian and his two sons had a special visitor on Wednesday.

Three to be exact. And they came bearing gifts. 

Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl and Conor Sheary arrived at Lestitian's Mars home to hand deliver his season-ticket package as part of the Penguins' annual Season-Ticket Delivery Day.

But this time, they also brought something else.

Stanley.

"I thought it would be one player," Lestitian said. "When they told me the (Stanley) Cup was coming too, I was really excited about that."

"It's nice to come out and see the reaction of the kids, the smiles and excitement," Rust said. "They get to see us, and the cherry on top is bringing the Cup as a surprise. It's nice to do things for the fans that give us such good support."

The three current NHLers played some street hockey in the driveway with future NHLers Jacob, 10, and Matthew, 8. Jacob plays for the Pens Elite while Matthew is on the Little 66ers.

The family took photos and even got to hold the most coveted chalice in the world.

"(The kids) have been asking every day when the players were coming," Lestitian said. "It was really exciting. For the kids, they're so excited. To have the Penguins come out today is just great."

KRIS LETANG

After making its first appearance of the day, the Stanley Cup accompanied defenseman Kris Letang to the home of Mary French, who was awaiting his arrival with her father Phil.

Mary teased her daughters by texting to tell them that Letang had arrived.

Letang signed Phil's polo and as the blueliner left, Phil shook his head in disbelief. The only word he could utter was, "wow."

PHIL KESSEL

When Phil Kessel arrived at the home of long-time season-ticket holder Richard Vtipil, his son Darren had a question for him.

"Are you a Stanley Cup champion?" Darren asked.

"Yes, I am," Kessel responded with a grin.

Hanging on the wall of Vtipil's home was a plaque which had the Pens' Ice Time game program from the 100th consecutive sellout, which included a story featuring him. He boasted about the plaque, showing Kessel his quote in the story.

After Kessel signed some autographs, took some pictures and met the family dogs - which were sporting their Pens collars - Kessel departed.

NICK BONINO

Outside the home of Derreck Stout hangs a Pens flag with the phrase "season-ticket holder" written at the bottom. His newest package of season tickets were delivered by center Nick Bonino.

"That was an amazing experience," Stout said. "I'm speechless. It was awesome. My dad took me to my first game 25 years ago and I've been going every since.

"I've been a fan since the early 90s and before. It's a great experience. A class organization."

Bonino also delivered some good news to Mike and Gina Taylor, the newest season-ticket holders for the Pens. Bonino arrived with a free pair of season tickets for the couple, courtesy of Peoples' Gas.

"I kind of had an idea of what might be coming seeing Pens deliver tickets," Mike admitted. "I honestly didn't expect full season tickets from the Penguins.

"Thank you Peoples Gas. I'm very happy to be a customer. This is an awesome thing you guys did. The Penguins organization, the city loves you. We love you. And we're looking forward to the season of games next year."

Bonino made three stops during the afternoon, posing for pictures, signing autographs and giving hugs. Bonino, who is beginning his second year with the Pens, enjoyed the experience much more this time around.

"This year is a little more fun because they know who I am," Bonino joked. "Last year I was the new guy. This year when I got out of the car they were pretty excited. That's always humbling with such a passionate sports town and great fans.

"Our organization is very charitable and big in the community. I had a lot of fun with these families and getting to meet some fans. I think the Penguins do a great job with that."

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY

Marc-Andre Fleury is the nicest, friendliest guy we know, so it was fitting that's how the families he visited during his season ticket deliveries were as well. At Bill Semier's house, it was so heartwarming to watch Fleury make sure his mother - who bought her son the season tickets back in 1976 when he was in high school - was able to get down the front steps using her cane to get into position for a photo.

She was so funny and so welcoming, insisting that Fleury take a bag full of goodies home to his daughters Estelle and Scarlett and taking him inside so she could put it together for him. They had a whole spread out on the dining room table for the Pens goaltender with a miniature Stanley Cup serving as the centerpiece, with meats, cheeses, fruit, pretzels, chips, dip, cookies - you name it.

Speaking of the Stanley Cup, Fleury brought the real thing to Stephen Rodgers' house as a special surprise along with their season tickets. You could hear the squeals of delight coming from inside as Fleury got the trophy out of the car. When he walked inside, he was greeted by 10 young kids who were literally shaking with excitement.

After they helped Fleury carry the Cup into the living room and took some photos, one of the boys proudly walked up to Fleury, shook his hand, and told him he was born on June 12, 2009 - the date of the Pens netminder's first championship with the team. Then he followed up by asking Fleury to guess what his name was. "Trenton Joseph Stanley Reiche!" he exclaimed. His mother Jessalynn said that since they're big hockey fans and he was born on such an exciting day in Pens history, they had to work Stanley into his name somehow. For Trenton to meet one of the players so instrumental to that win, and for him to bring the trophy that he's named for, was an incredible experience for the family.

"It was cool," Fleury said. "I'm sure if I was a kid I would have loved to see the Cup. They were a great family, a lot of kids there. A lot of little hockey players. Hopefully it was special for them and it's always fun for us to be able to share the Cup with the fans and with the kids."

Trenton's 11-year-old brother Braiden was one of those little hockey players. He was speechless meeting Fleury, saying the visit was "crazy because I look up to Marc-Andre Fleury. I'm a goalie. This is so cool."

Equally as speechless was another one of Fleury's younger fans at Matthew Thomas' house. He and his wife Christina said their 3-year-old son Luke loves getting out his little goalie pads, gloves and stick and pretending to be the Pens netminder. She said Luke is in their playroom all the time saying "I'm Fleury! I'm Fleury!" However, when the time came to meet him in person Luke got shy. "It's my teeth. They're big in person," joked Fleury, telling Luke, "I don't bite!" Eventually, the little guy warmed up to him, even smiling for a group photo and giving Fleury high fives.   

When the FedEx truck pulled up in front of Daniel Barclay's Pittsburgh home, he was confused.

IAN COLE

While he was expecting a delivery, he was expecting it to come from a guy in a Pens jersey - not a FedEx uniform. But once he realized it was Ian Cole dressed head-to-toe in their signature purple hat, shirt and shorts, he had to laugh.

"I was very surprised," Barclay said with a laugh. "That's why I asked him to come in, first of all, because I know a FedEx guy wouldn't come in. So when he came in and I looked at him and he asked if we were having a Penguins party and smiled, that's when I knew."

Cole initially fooled the season ticket holders at the other house he visited as well, and had a blast wearing a disguise for a day.

"I've never ridden in a car without doors before, so the breeze you get is fantastic," he joked. "It was awesome. I tried to play it off as best I could as a FedEx guy. They saw through it pretty quick because you guys gave them the information beforehand that I was coming. They see the FedEx truck and say, 'I don't think I had a package coming today.' But it was a lot of fun. Any time you can give back to the season ticket holders, we as a team really value that support."

Marguerite Hanlin remembers the exact moment that her husband Sean finally got Pens season tickets after being on the waiting list for seven years. "I'll never forget that day," she said. "He was like, 'Guess what? We have season tickets!' I was like 'what?!' I was floored. It's awesome. We go to a lot of games, and every game is the best."

When Sean first moved to Pittsburgh, it was Sidney Crosby's rookie year. His neighbors got tickets right away, but Sean was just 24 years old and wanted to make sure he could afford them before he bought them. When he tried the next year, he was put on the waiting list. It's been well worth the wait, as this past season they witnessed the Stanley Cup win. Now entering their second, they got the tickets hand-delivered by Cole.

 "That was the best first year we could have asked for. Just seeing them win the Cup and now this, I mean, it's fantastic," Sean said.

"That was amazing," Marguerite added. "I told Sean, 'okay, so we have to remember this moment for the rest of our lives. It's like meeting the president of the United States to me. I'm floored. I can't believe it. POTUS, Ian Cole, pretty much on the same level in my mind. Actually, Ian Cole kind of wins."

 

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