20 years ago today, Mario Lemieux snatched a puck along the boards of the Civic Arena and in one fluid motion fired it dead into the center of the Boston Bruins' empty net, sealing the Penguins' first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Nobody in the stands during that game will ever forget it. The crowd was unlike anything you'd see in Pittsburgh now, because remember, trips to the playoffs, let alone the Finals, were fairly unusual back then. People were going crazy. The play on the ice was equally intense, in a different way than you see today. It was somehow more raw. Ulfie destroyed Cam Neely. Dave Poulin and Bob Sweeney did everything short of straddling Mario's shoulders to try to slow him down, but Lemieux kept stripping the puck off Don Sweeney and picking corners on Andy Moog. Guys were going back and forth in the media - first Kevin Stevens guaranteed a win, then Mike Milbury called Badger Bob Johnson a "professor of goon-ism," and everybody on each team pretty much openly professed hatred for the other side - and we knew we were witnessing something epic. It was the start of the Golden Age of hockey in Pittsburgh.
Something else is worth noting as we reminisce about that day and how the league has changed. You hear a lot of talk now about how players don't respect each other the way they once did, and you might wonder what that even means. What does respect look like? Well, the Penguins and Bruin hated each other. But watch this handshake line video from May 11, 1991, and think about how different these rituals look today.
I'm pretty sure Chris Nilan asked Kevin Stevens to be the godfather to his first child.
- It's also amazing to see the young Jaromir Jagr in that video, just beginning then to cultivate the mullet to end all mullets, and consider that today we're talking about a homecoming. He misses us, and we miss him. Jags, we did like you when you were younger. Come home.
- Someone just mentioned to me that the Pirates are playing .500 ball. Talk to me in August.
- If you haven't been watching this Sharks/Wings series, you need to tune in for Game 7. Incredible hockey. Say what you will about Detroit, and we do, they are pretty irrepressible.
- And now for today in GTOGCTE (Get To Our Game Continuing Twitter Education). Rule #1 of GTOGCTE: If you play professional sports, don't tweet. We've been over this many times. If you are a professional athlete, there is a presumption that you are not aware that if you type something on Twitter, other people can read it. Even if this presumption does not apply to you, there is a reasonable likelihood that you will tweet something stupid, embarrassing, and/or offensive. So don't do it. Hey, keep a diary instead. Rule #2 of GTOGCTE? Don't tweet. If you are unable or unwilling to follow Rules #1 and #2, we advise you to limit your tweets either to shoutouts to your boys or information regarding your whereabouts, using as many exclamation points as you like (See Ovechkin, Alex).
But athletes aren't the only ones who can benefit from GTOGCTE. Today we want to offer some instruction to the media. The PPG ran a story today on Pirates prospect Tony Sanchez, a AA prospect who the paper identifies as perhaps "the latest athlete in the midst of a Twitter controversy." It seems Tony tweeted that the umpires blew the game in Monday's battle between Harrisburg and Altoona. Stop the presses. PPG, we'll keep this one simple. Rule #3 of GTOGCTE: It's not a Twitter controversy if no one cares.