My first year of grad school at Duquesne was the 1990-91 NHL season. Yep, I came to Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup champ. Throughout the 1990s I watched Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Ron Francis be brilliant night after night. They were incredible to watch back then, as some of you might remember. Down 3-0, the Pens could turn on the offense and come back to win a game. Up 3-0, their defense could suddenly implode and they'd lose a game. You never knew what to expect, and their talent and skill were amazing.
I moved to California in 1998, and was thrilled to watch Mario return in 2000. And I watched the Penguins fall apart after that. I watched every game I could during the brutal early 2000's, when the Pens were hoping for offense from such stars as Ramzi Abid and Alexey Morozov.
So, I've been through the tough times with my adopted hometown team. Unfortunately, it's looking more like the early 2000's these days. I've been trying to remember why I kept watching the Penguins in those awful years - 2002, 2003, 2004. What I think kept me watching was that they still had spirit, still kept moving and working. And they were still my Pittsburgh Penguins, still my hometown team, even out here in Cali.
I think, if you're a Penguins fan because you're from the 'burgh, or because of Sid or Mario, that you need to keep the faith no matter what happens this season, or any season. If you lived through Dick Tarnstrom being the team's high scorer for the season, you know what I mean.
You are watching brilliant athletes at the peak of their profession, fighting to win games for your home team (however that relates to you). That's a privilege and a joy. Every Craig Adams shot block, every Matt Cooke sneer, every Brooks Orpik hit, every random Pascal Dupuis goal, even every Evgeni Malkin offsides play, is something to savor, win or lose.