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A long way from Tarnstrom: Pittsburgh Penguins will host 200th sellout in a row Saturday

Mar 11, 2011, 5:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

It’s hard to believe that less than 10 years ago, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks basically had to give tickets away. The outlook was grim for both franchises, as the Blackhawks’ cavernous United Center was often sparsely populated while the Penguins put such a bad hockey team on the ice that obscure defenseman Dick Tarnstrom was the team’s leading scorer in 2003-04 with 52 points.

Yet now the two latest Stanley Cup winning teams rank among the hottest tickets in hockey. This turnaround is exemplified by the fact that the Penguins will host their 200th consecutive sellout when they play against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

What might be most impressive is that this streak easily bests the franchise’s other golden era, which featured the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. Even with a team that won two Cups and featured an exciting, offense-first style, the Penguins never sold out a full season’s worth of home games until 07-08.

Even with Sidney Crosby hurt (“retiring”?) and Evgeni Malkin out for the rest of the season, the Penguins should be able to sell out every game during the Consol Energy Center’s inaugural season. Call Penguins fans bandwagon hoppers all that you’d like, this is still an impressive streak – especially amid some shaky times for the U.S. economy.

  1. psujay - Mar 11, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    It’s not really surprising to think of Pitt as a bandwagon hockey town. They have gone bankrupt 3 times. After Briere’s unfortunate passing the IRS padlocked their doors in ’75.

    Hopefully when this current age is in the history books the “fans” there will be come true fans. It’s good for hockey if the die hard steelers fans start treating their hockey team as something more than the latest Hollywood sex symbol. Same with the Chicago fanbase, although the systematic destruction of their fan base came from years of ownership neglect and the spiteful Dollar Bill Wirtz, not a team on the downward spiral from consecutive Stanley Cups within the previous decade.

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