We’re all Pens fans, but even if we weren’t, we would be all about the Winter Classic this weekend. It is being played on our beloved field. Terrible Towels will be waving. There’s no way any Steelers fan shouldn’t be excited about this. But we follow the Pens almost as rampantly as we follow the football team in town. No lie, we’re more excited about the Winter Classic than the Cleveland game this weekend.
Much has been written about the Winter Classic from hockey blogs so I thought I’d chime in with four Steeler related thoughts on the NHL’s annual outdoor game. Jump it to hear about Terrible Towels, the Rooneys and a rant about the North Shore.
1. We’re for the Terrible Towels. Even with a Caps logo.
The Terrible Towel is bigger than the Steelers. I’ve seen it waved by musicians. I’ve seen it waved by some fat DJ at a Myrtle Beach hotel. I’ve seen it waved at hockey games. And of course it is waved at Heinz Field. It is an awesome idea and a great symbol for the Penguins playing at Heinz Field. If you wave one of these towels during the Steelers next home game you might raise a few eyebrows, but watching the Pens take the ice at Heinz Field with a backdrop of 70,000 yellow towels waving in the background will easily be one of the coolest scenes I’ve ever laid eyes on.
2. The Steelers ownership and management deserves a pat on the back.
I’ve read complaints from a lot of the hockey elitists in Pittsburgh and Steeler haters that the Steelers brass are forcing themselves into the spotlight by having Steeler legends Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis participate in the pregame ceremonies. The same complaint has also been made about the Terrible Towels and probably a bunch of other things. In case you have been living in a cave, the Steelers are like a religion in Pittsburgh and around the world so I’m pretty sure they don’t really care if the spotlight is on them or not. The team has been far more cooperative and supportive than any other of the Winter Classic venues. Unlike Buffalo in 2008 and the two ballparks from 2009 and 2010, the Steelers will actually be playing games in Heinz Field after the Winter Classic (most likely anyway). The Classic is also being played as the Steelers prep for what will hopefully be a deep playoff run. It certainly would have been more convenient for the team to turn down the offer to host the game but they have gone above and beyond. The Rooney’s care deeply about Pittsburgh and they should be applauded for their efforts as well.
3. The Steelers players are pumped for the game.
Several Steelers have turned into pretty high profile hockey fans over the past few seasons: Jeff Reed, Casey Hampton, Lawrence Timmons and Kevin Colbert have all been fixtures at Consol Energy Center and Mellon Arena. The Steelers are even hoping to delay their departure by Cleveland long enough to watch some of the game. HBO’s 24/7 even interviewed a few Steeler linebackers about the Winter Classic. Check out the 12:30 mark of the video below.
4. Three cheers for the North Shore.
The Winter Classic is likely to leave a big impact on the North Shore for years to come. Businesses in the area are going to make a killing and it will hopefully encourage more entrepeunuers and investors to look at the area in the future. The North Shore has always been a favorite spot of mine for years because of Three Rivers Stadium and all the field trips I used to take to Carnegie Science Center. But with two relatively new stadiums, Stage AE, new hotels and the Rivers Casino, the North Shore is going to be a huge part of Pittsburgh’s future for a lot more people than just sports fans and grade schoolers. More bars and hotels and things to do within walking distance will make home Steeler games better for everybody for decades. January 1, 2011 could help be another turning point in the North Shore’s rise.