As a fan, you identify with your team. I follow and am a fan of several teams (Badgers, Phillies, Eagles, Arsenal, Red Star) but most of all the Pittsburgh Penguins. So here today, instead of the usual links and news, before we dig into turkey and football, here's what I'm thankful for when it comes to being a fan of this team.
1. My Pens memories. Happy and sad ones.
- My dad and I sitting on our living room couch in Belgrade late at night, watching the 1988 NHL All-Star Game in which Mario Lemieux had 3 goals and 6 points.
- The first Cup. I was on a marine biology fellowship in Bremerhaven, north Germany, on an icebreaker called Polarstern collecting samples in the North Sea. We were out at sea and I didn't have an Internet connection, but radio saved the day.
- The passing of Badger Bob
- The second Cup. I was back in Belgrade and the war had started. With all that fear and misery, the Pens were the only happy memory from those days.
- The 1993 loss to the Islanders. I was flying high with that team, and there was a loud thud when we hit the ground.
- The Jags trade. This was his last goal as a Penguin.
- Sidney Crosby draft lottery. I was in London at a launch party but spent most of it in the powder room with my blackberry. Amid uncertainty about the franchise, this kid meant the Penguins had a bright future.
- The 2008 loss in the finals. I was certain we were going to lose so didn't let my hopes get too high. But to watch Flower do what he did in that game 5 and that Sykora goal, that was incredible.
- The third Cup. My dad died a year later, but he got to see Mario hoist the Cup one more time. That was special.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins people
- Pens legends from years past, who paved the road for the great organization of today
- Mario Lemieux, whose magnificence on the ice was second to none, and whose perseverance off the ice is the reason we are where we are
- Badger Bob Johnson, who thought every day was a great day for hockey
- Scotty Bowman, the greatest coach in hockey history, who we were lucky to have for a little while
- Craig Patrick, a smart hockey mind
- Ray Shero, a class act and one of the best GMs in hockey, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Disco, regardless of how complicated things are between us
- Sidney Crosby, the greatest player of this generation, and being able to watch him play in black and gold
- Evgeni Malkin, the unstoppable force of nature
- Mike Lange, a hockey voice like no other
- Current Pens, stars and grinders. Duper. Kuni. Lazy. Flower. Vokie. Beau. Goose. Jussi. Scuds. Free Candy. Paulie. Tanger. Nisky. Olli. Borts. Joey. Tank. CFA.
- Former Pens who are still in the NHL but left their imprint on my heart. Jags. Mad Max. Gronk. Sarge. Cookie. Baltic Avenue. The list goes on and on.
Regardless of the wins and losses, I'm thankful for this great organization led by David Morehouse, and everything they do off the ice as part of the Pittsburgh community. I'm also thankful for our community here, which has grown in the last year (PensBurgh is approaching 5000 members), everyone's posts and contributions. It's a great day for hockey!
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American members and readers. If you celebrate Hanukkah, have a happy one as well.