Barden's bid wins Pittsburgh slots license
"The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board ended months of speculation and debate Wednesday with the selection of a plan by Detroit businessman Don Barden for Pittsburgh's lone slots casino license.
Isle of Capri had planned to build a casino and an 18,000-seat multi-purpose arena in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District if it won the license."
Every single Penguins fan remembers how they felt when they heard the news. Isle of Capri, who had offered to build the Pittsburgh Penguins a brand new arena for free, had lost. The Penguins remained without a new arena and their future was in doubt.
"The decision by the Gaming Commission was terrible news for the Penguins, their fans and the NHL. The future of this franchise in Pittsburgh is uncertain and the Penguins now will have to explore all other options, including possible relocation. The NHL will support the Penguins in their endeavors."
– Gary Bettman
You wanted to cry. Maybe you did. No one would blame you.
Then, somehow, it got worse.
Mario Lemieux meets with Kansas City officials
"Penguins owner Mario Lemieux met with Kansas City officials Wednesday as part of his exploration to move the NHL club from Pittsburgh.
Kansas City has a new arena, the $276-million US Sprint Center, which is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2007-08 NHL season."
This team has had many dark days in the past.
Michel Briere, a promising rookie with a very bright future, played only one season before he tragically died in a car accident.
The team finished last in the league in both 1983 and 1984.
Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.
The rats in Florida.
Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera were traded for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk.
In 2002 the team missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
They finished last place once again in 2004.
But the idea that the Penguins would suit up in a different city was by far the lowest point for any fan of the franchise.
It was especially cruel considering that, fueled by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins were once again competitive.
Just as things started looking up on the ice, they started falling apart off of it.
But, obviously, the story didn't end with the Penguins moving to Kansas City.
No matter where you look, you see people that are doubting the Pittsburgh Penguins.
They point to Detroit's 11-1 home record this postseason.
They tell you that 12 of the 14 game sevens in Stanley Cup history have been won by the home team.
They state that the Red Wings' experience and skill will be too much for the Penguins to overcome on Friday night.
To be honest, when you look at the numbers, those people are right.
When you look at historical evidence, those people are right as well.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be in the fight of their lives on Friday night.
But, to state that they will fail just because the odds are against them is ludicrous.
If you've read this far you have already seen how many odds the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise has overcome to get to where they are today.
But everything we just said is only historical evidence.
In the grand scheme of things something that happened ten years ago has no relevance today, even if the players were wearing black and gold.
All that matters is what has happened to THIS team, the 2008-2009 edition of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If you want to talk about facing down adversity and succeeding, this team is an outstanding example.
During the offseason the Penguins lost a lot of talent.
Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Ty Conklin, Adam Hall, Jarko Ruutu and Georges Laraque all suited up for different teams to start this season.
The media immediately jumped all over it.
They said that the turnover was too much.
They said that the Pittsburgh Penguins could not possibly succeed without those players.
When Sergei Gonchar injured his shoulder in the preseason the world had already written this team off.
The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the season with one of the best records in franchise history.
And then there was the "runner-up jinx."
The Penguins and their fans were repeatedly told how difficult it would be to succeed after losing in the Stanley Cup Final the year before.
And those warnings were correct.
It was difficult.
It was extremely difficult.
In fact, by February it looked like the pundits were right.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were in tenth place in the Eastern Conference.
Michel Therrien had been fired.
Ryan Whitney had been traded.
Everyone assumed that the Pittsburgh Penguins would miss the playoffs.
They had their "I told you sos" ready.
The Pittsburgh Penguins finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
They were told they could not match the Philadelphia Flyers and their six 25 goal scorers.
They defeated them in six games.
After dropping the first two games in the Verizon Center, critics gave the Penguins no hope against the Washington Capitals and "the best player in the NHL by far."
The Penguins beat the Capitals 6-2 in Washington in game seven.
Cam Ward was the hottest goaltender in the playoffs. His record against the Pittsburgh Penguins was stellar.
The "Cardiac Canes" fell in four games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins then entered a familiar scenario.
They lost the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final in Detroit.
The world was ready to start engraving the Red Wings' names on the Cup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins fought back and evened up the series.
Then they lost 5-0 in Detroit in game five.
You could ask every sports commentator in the world what their thoughts were and 99% of them would have said "Detroit in six."
Friday night is game seven.
Over the last few days Penguins fans have been given a million reasons why the Red Wings will dominate tomorrow night's game.
None of them matter.
Every time this team has been told they can't, they respond with one phrase:
Yes We Can.
You've experienced the emotion.
Now you can wear the shirt.
We have no idea where this came from or whether or not it's legit, but this is now the greatest picture ever taken.