Well the NHL playoffs are just around the corner and my Pittsburgh Penguins look like a pretty good bet to atleast make the playoffs this season. They were buyers at the trade deadline for the first time since 2001, an added some good experience to a very young team. They have the possibility to do very well this year. I doubt many teams in the Eastern Conference want to play them. Everyone know that anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I really don't want this season to end.
When I say that I don't want the season to end, I mean it literally. When this season ends, things around Pittsburgh could get scary. The Penguins lease to the Mellon Arena expires at the end of June, and Kansas City has already offered the Penguins the whole farm. A brand new arena and they won't even have to pay rent. Did I also mention they get to share in the revenues? How did it possibly get to this point? Pittsburgh took advantage of Mario Lemuiex, that's how.
In 1984, when they drafted him, they were looking for him to save the franchise. He did. The Penguins are one of only two teams to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions in the 1990's. It should have been a 3-peat, but the Islanders were too much in 1993. In 1996, the Penguins ran in to the year of the RAT. So Mario retires because of his back (sore from playing and carrying the entire Penguins franchise). Mario comes back as an owner in 1999. The team bankrupt for the 2nd time in less then 20 years. It was at this point that it was mentioned the Penguins needed a new facility. The Mellon Arena was already very old and run down. Pittsburgh didn't have time for this. It was too busy building new stadiums for its less than successful Pirates and the pride of the city, Steelers. Enter in the NHL's bad economic state and the Penguins began having difficulties keeping its best players. Mario returned to the ice in late 2000, and the Pens made one more run. Losing to the Devils in the Conference Finals. That offseason saw the unthinkable. Jagr got traded to Washington for pratically nothing because the Pens could no longer afford him. Kovalev left and went back to the Rangers. Even with Mario, the Penguins began to lose like they were winning in the early 90's.
The losing season did see the Penguins get out of debt. It also saw the Penguins select #1 where they took a franchise goaltender. The next year saw them draft #2 with Evgeni Malkin. Then the NHL stopped for an entire season. A stop that was unthinkable, but was needed in order to fix itself. After the lockout, the Penguins hit the lottery of lotteries as they won the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes. The Penguins made some moves in the new NHL and it was thought they were strong contenders. They weren't quite there yet. Mario had an ailing back again and retired in December of 2005. The Pens finished second to last again and were able to take Jordan Staal with the 2nd pick. All this time, the team was still telling local leaders the need for a new arena. The Mellon Arena was built for opera, not hockey and other events. The Penguins bought property for their new venue. They also negotiated a deal with the Isle of Capri. Pennsylvania finally legalized slots, and it the license was given to the IoC, they were willing to build the Penguins a $294 arena, no taxpayer money, no Penguins money, it really seemed like the best deal. It was the best offer on the table.
Fast Forward to December of this year. The state finally handed out the license and it did not go the IoC. The governor quickly came in and said there would be a plan B, and could be done quickly. That was almost 2 months ago. The Penguins can leave in 3 months. What is his definition of quickly? Kansas City has already offered the farm, I am sure Houston will too. It seems now the arguments are about overruns on construction costs. This is totally different then Heinz Field and PNC Park, this is a mutli-purpose arena. Many bands refuse to come to Pittsburgh because of the facilities. Did I fail to mention the Gov. is from Philadelphia too?
The Penguins and all the fans are in debt to Mario. He has saved this franchise twice and all he has ever asked for is support, enough support for a new arena so the Penguins can remain in Pittsburgh. The puck has been dropped here and there is very limited time to fix this situation. This soon-to-be dynasty could be playing anywhere but here next season. This is going to be much worse then when Quebec moved to Denver and won the Stanley Cup. The fans of Pittsburgh have sat here since 2001, supported this team while it lost, and now its finally being rewarded. The Penguins have chance at a Stanley Cup this year, but there chances will become greater each year this team matures.
Kansas City and Houston are both very nice cities I'm sure. There fans are probably great too. Please don't take offense to this,but no matter how great those places are and how nice those people are, they don't deserve this team. Pittsburghers do. This is our team. We watched them go bankrupt twice. We supported them through the best of times and the worst of times. This is about to be the next great dynasty and only Pittsburgh fans deserve it. We have earned it. So KC and Houston, BACK OFF! Go after another franchise. The March of the Penguins fans needs to begin now. This team can't and should not leave. If it does leave, every Stanley Cup this franchise wins will leave a very bitter taste in the mouths of Pittsburghers. The bitter taste won't be from the IC Light, it will be from Lord Stanley being hoisted in Kanas City for Chiefs fans. Like I said in a previous log, feel free to take the Pirates. Can we interest you in a Primanti Bros. Franchise??