Pittsburgh’s Cup runneth over


Matt Merlino

Black and gold flood the streets of Pittsburgh to celebrate the Penguins 4th Stanley Cup championship.

Maura Linehan, Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor

Wednesday morning the City of Pittsburgh welcomed their Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins home with a massive celebration that brought downtown to a halt. After their 4-2 series win against the Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks, the Penguins reclaimed the NHL championship for the first time since 2009 and for the fourth time in franchise history.

The approximately two hour event began with a parade that featured the players and their families, coaches, and team officials. Starting on Grant Street, the cars, trucks and other vehicles turned on to the Boulevard of the Allies and preceded to a temporary stage set up at the intersection of Stanwix Street and the Boulevard of the Allies.

Penguins fans began lining up along the parade route and around the stage hours before the event began. Taylor Haase just moved to Pittsburgh in June, but when she and her friends saw Twitter posts from fans lining up at 2:30 AM, they knew it was time to skip a night’s sleep and claim their spot around 3:30 AM.

“We booked it down here to make sure we were front row,” Haase said. She was looking forward to using that spot in the front row to see her favorite player, Tom Kuhnhackl.

The parade route was lined with people standing 10-15 feet deep. Fans covered every inch of the available space in parking garages and office buildings to try and get a glimpse of The Cup, and more importantly, their favorite players.

Washington, PA resident Brian Skokowski watched Game 6 at the Consol Energy Center watch party on Sunday night, so he wasn’t going to miss the chance to celebrate the Penguins win. He could not wait to get a chance to see Phil Kessel because he felt that as the team’s leading scorer, Kessel should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the winning team’s most valuable player during the playoffs.

“Kessel is the ultimate American dream because he’s fat, he’s great at hockey and he’s American,” Skokowski said.

When the players reached the stage and looked out at the crowd, all they could see was a sea of black and gold, screaming Pittsburgh sports fans. The County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, told the audience that the Public Safety Department called it the largest crowd to ever see a parade in Pittsburgh. No official numbers were provided, but other news outlets estimates ranged from 350,000-400,000 people.

ROOT Sports play-by-play announcer Paul Steigerwald served as the master of ceremonies for the post-parade festivities, and he did his best to get the huge crowd in on the action by changing the crowd’s chants of “We want The Cup” to shouts of “We won The Cup.” In front of a charged up crowd, Steigerwald also introduced Sidney Crosby and asked him how the Penguins managed to stick to their game plan with so many injuries and distractions in order to win the championship.

“We found a way,” Crosby said.

General Manager Jim Rutherford addressed the crowd, making a date with them to come back again next year. He told the crowd that they never stopped believing that they could win The Cup this year, even when they were out of the playoffs on December 12. He saw it as a case of never giving up.

“If you keep believing, you can get it done,” Rutherford said.

The social media sensation of the playoffs, Harnarayan Singh and the “Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi,” traveled all the way from Vancouver to celebrate with the Penguins. Singh congratulated the team and thanked them and the fans for their support during the playoffs, and he delivered his now viral goal call from Game 1 of the Finals series.

“Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino,” Singh shouted to a huge cheer from the crowd.

The crowd cheered when Hall of Fame announcer Mike Lange took the stage. He treated them to his latest goal call, which he created for this year’s playoffs—pointing out that it was an appropriately “Pittsburgh” way of celebrating the team’s victory.

“Start frying the jumbo, Homer—extra crispy, please,” Lange exclaimed.