Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goodbye Mellon

The Pittsburgh Penguins season ended last week.

And now, Pittsburgh sports fans are faced with the long, seemingly endless summer of not knowing what to do with all their extra time. Trying to dedicate yourself to watching the Pirates is like saying you're planning to lock yourself out of the house every day when you go to work.

As our friends over at The Pensblog said, "We'll take this season over watching the Kansas City Penguins on NHL Center Ice any day."


Looking back over the past year in Pittsburgh sports, expectations were never higher. The Steelers were coming off a victory in Super Bowl XLIII and the Penguins were set to defend their first Stanley Cup since 1992. On top of it all, the Pitt basketball team exceeded expectations by handling Big East powers Syracuse and Villanova in conference play. Pitt dropped an early game to a good Xavier team in the NCAA Tournament while the Steelers failed to make the playoffs.

The Mellon Arena has had a great ride. Obviously, Pens fans are disappointed by the result of the Montreal series. But honestly, if someone had told you in 2003 that we'd come within 2 points of an Atlantic Division title and reach the 2nd round of the playoffs in 2009, you probably would have taken it. Obviously, we wanted a chance to defend the Cup. But you can't do it every year. In the era of Free Agency, it's difficult to maintain a team over multiple seasons. As Steelers fans, we envy Pens fans in that their team actually got the chance to defend their title in the playoffs.

Steelers fans know the feelings that Pens fans have about parting with their old arena. The Mellon, much like Three Rivers Stadium, has been a Pittsburgh institution for decades. We had a hard time parting with Three Rivers, and Heinz Field has never been the same. As Pittsburgh sports fans, we're pumped for the CEC. In the analogy of sports arenas, the CEC is so vastly of an improvement over the Mellon Arena that Heinz Field doesn't even compare.

Our friend Caitlin was lucky enough to go to the game and passed along these pictures to us:

So now what's left for Pittsburgh fans? Well, you could do one of two things. If you listen to the inane blabber on The Fan or read any of the local papers, you're ready to trade Malkin away for draft picks and prospects. Yeah, ask Dave Littlefield how well the "Trade Away Your Superstars" plan has been for creating Championship-caliber teams.

It's been a while since the Pittsburgh media has chased a superstar athlete out of town because they don't like the way he interacts with them. The last one that comes to mind was Jaromir Jagr. Before him it was Barry Bonds. The Pittsburgh media was relentless in their treatment of Bonds back in the early 90s and then Jagr in the late 90s, prompting both of them to leave town asap. We're holding out hope that the same fate doesn't befall Evgeni Malkin.

In conclusion, thanks for the memories Mellon, and thanks for a good season 2010 Penguins. Obviously the expectations were higher, but at least they defended their title by making the playoffs (unlike the Steelers).

Go Anyone But Philly.