Because of how diehard my father was, my siblings and I were pretty much born into the teams we root for today. Mainly the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. But we’re from Rochester, NY- A.K.A. land of the Buffalo Sabres and all the other New York sports teams. So we don’t get to see many Penguins fans out and about. It’s awesome when I do see someone with a Pens shirt on. You don’t know them but you already feel a connection.
Once, I saw a guy in a Jagr jersey at my community college. I was wearing my Max Talbot jersey that day. I was leaving so I never got to talk to him. That was before Jagr and Talbot signed in Philly. I wonder how that guy feels now. Anyway, living in NY and being a Penguins fan isn’t the worst but it does sometimes get lonely. My dad became a Pens fan in the late 70s. He tells me, “I loved their uniforms and they sucked so I kinda felt sorry for them.” I don’t know why he would like a team for those reasons but I’m really glad he did. He was a Montreal Canadiens fan first (which is a another story for him to tell because he’s Italian and born in NY) but fell out of love with the team after his favorite player left. When Mario Lemieux came to the Pens, he latched on and never let go. Thank God! I would not want to have been born a Habs fan.
We didn’t always have the hockey package. We would have to listen to games on the radio. Mike Lange and Rick Jeanneret were two voices I have embedded in my brain from hearing them as a kid so often. The only time they would get to watch on TV is if the Pens were playing a NY team. This was so long ago. Like a decade and so ago. We used to have Center Ice recently until my brother canceled it because he couldn’t afford it at the moment and my dad has other bills to worry about so we saved money by watching games online. And so far it’s been okay because there’s always a stream. Thank God for the internet!
We can watch when they play a NY team and the Pens do get their fair share of air time on NHL Network, NBC Sports, and NBC which is great. My uncle has it so if we sometimes go over his house to watch too. We’ll probably sign up for Center Ice next season though. I do enjoy Root, even though a lot of people complain about it.
One thing I loved about each time I visited Pittsburgh was how much the city cared for their sports teams. In most places you are guaranteed to see someone in a Pittsburgh sports shirt or jersey. When I go during the hockey season, it’s amazing to see so many people who care just like me. It’s not like that here, even for the Sabres. You’ll see a variety every now and then but never in the masses like in the burgh. I don’t live in Buffalo so maybe it’s just because I live 45 mins away that it’s so lame here. Like I’ve said before, seeing someone else walking around in Pens gear here is like finding one of your own. It’s rare but when it happens, you feel like family.
When I tell people I’m a Penguins fan, their initial reaction is to question my reasoning. Most people who are hockey fans here that I have met are Sabres fans and they aren’t particularly fond of the Pens. One guy badgered me about Crosby. Telling me he sucked as if I’d take him seriously. As if that was original. He was an idiot and I properly told him off. Another Sabre fan asked me, “I bet you’re favorite player is Sidney Crosby.” I told him no but I felt like he was implying that I only liked the team because of him so I showed him my “Let’s Go Pens!” tattoo on my wrist. Immediately his eyes widened when he knew that I was more than serious about my devotion to my hockey team and that his assumption of me was wrong. I guess living in Sabre country and being a Penguins fan, you’re going to get this reaction a lot. It doesn’t really bother me unless someone is being a jerk to me about it. The only other Pens fans I know here are my family. I would love to find a group of Pens fans in my area to watch games with. I love watching my sports teams with other fans in bars. The more fans, the merrier!
I wish there could be a better way to watch games though. I don’t care about other teams so why pay for a hockey package just to see my team? It would be cool if there were individual team packages and it would also be cool if they didn’t black out games when we play a NY team. The MSG announcers are the worst, I hate watching a game on MSG. I also hate that I live 5 hours away from Pittsburgh because I would honestly go to more games if I lived closer. I’m lucky if I get to go to one game a season now. I’d go to see them in Buffalo but money is tight so buying cheap seats in Buffalo’s arena isn’t worth the money because those seats suck. I’d rather save my money for a game in Pittsburgh and from what I’ve witnessed, CEC’s cheap seats don’t suck. I was amazed by that. Not a bad seat in the house if you ask me. NJ and NYC are almost the same time and distance as Pittsburgh so there isn’t a point in going unless I get cheap tickets in NJ but their arena sucks too haha.
It’s not that hard being an out of state fan. It has it’s annoyances and sometimes I wish I could be able to go to Pittsburgh more often for games but I can’t complain too much. I could live in California or another country so it would be worse!