Why do the Penguins play so many games on Thanksgiving eve?

Thanksgiving is synonymous with loads of traditions.

Football, household and feasting.

The night time earlier than Thanksgiving has just a few traditions as effectively.

Mostly, going to institutions and imbibing in methods one wouldn’t usually on a weekday night time.

Or going to a Pittsburgh Penguins recreation.

Of the Penguins’ first 55 years of existence, they’ve performed a Thanksgiving eve recreation on 48 events with 43 being staged inside the pleasant confines of both the Civic Arena or PPG Paints Arena.

That “custom” will proceed with Wednesday’s house contest in opposition to the Calgary Flames.

Captain Sidney Crosby has participated in a number of of these games since he joined the franchise in 2005. The environment is one thing that stands out to him.

“I bear in mind a few of these games being enjoyable games and other people being into it,” Crosby stated. “Usually, the games over the holidays at all times look like there’s a little bit extra pleasure, for certain.”

What is not certain is how the Penguins have been capable of get so many Thanksgiving eve house games over their half-century-plus of existence.

It may not be correct to label it a “custom,” per se. It’s extra of a collision of circumstances which have led to the Penguins being a number so typically the night time earlier than the vacation.

American groups usually have extra bother promoting tickets to games in the early a part of the season when compelled to compete with the NFL. So the Penguins, seemingly from their first days, have requested the league to provide them house games on the day earlier than Thanksgiving. And provided that Pittsburgh is comparatively near different Eastern Conference locales, significantly for Western Conference foes on lengthy journeys in the japanese portion of the continent, scheduling a highway recreation in Pittsburgh may be handy to the customer on a multi-city highway journey.

In their first season, 1967-68, the Penguins received considered one of their first wins in opposition to considered one of the so-called “Original Six” franchises once they defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-1, at the Civic Arena on Nov. 22, 1967.

From that time on, the Penguins had been virtually at all times at house for Thanksgiving, no less than the night time earlier than.

In complete, the Penguins haven’t performed on Thanksgiving eve seven occasions and 4 of these have concerned a disruption in the schedule of some type (three resulting from a lockout and in 2020, the pandemic had a lot of the world on maintain).

During the Nineteen Seventies, the pre-Thanksgiving recreation turned one thing of an occasion as a result of it was considered one of the comparatively few occasions the Penguins had a sellout (or near it) of their pre-Mario Lemieux days.

“Back in the day of the (Nineteen Seventies) — perhaps components of the early (Eighties) — when there weren’t very many sellouts, that at all times appeared like the computerized sellout,” former Penguins vice chairman of communications Tom McMillian stated. “You would at all times discuss faculty youngsters being house and other people being house for the holidays. It was at all times that sort of festive environment earlier than Penguins hockey was actually huge in Pittsburgh.

“It has continued. It’s most likely been much less noticeable on this period when there have been tons and many sellouts. It did not stick out as a lot. But it’s relatively distinctive.”

Even by way of the Lemieux years in addition to the eras synonymous with superstars akin to Jaromir Jagr, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins at all times appear to be house for the (night time earlier than the) vacation.

Their final pre-Thanksgiving highway recreation was a 6-1 highway win in opposition to the New York Rangers on Nov. 23, 2016. Since then, they’ve performed 4 consecutive house games (with the 2020 pandemic hole).

The Penguins do request sure dates from the schedule maker, they usually’re definitely not the solely ones who ask to play house games on the night time earlier than Thanksgiving. They simply occur to be extra profitable with their requests than different franchises.

“You give obtainable dates effectively earlier than the begin of the season once they’re making the schedule,” McMillian stated. “The Penguins have at all times been fortunate to get that date. Clearly, everyone loves the vacation games for apparent causes. This is only one that labored out.”

The Penguins aren’t good in house games earlier than Thanksgiving. They have a 23-18-7 document (together with 4 ties). But the impact the house crowd has on that night time isn’t oblivious to these on the ice.

“During warmups, we might be like, ‘They’re fired up tonight.’ Let’s go boys!’” stated Penguins radio broadcaster Phil Bourque, a ahead for the workforce in the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. “You simply knew it was a bit bit totally different in the constructing. That’s all you want as a person and as a gaggle of alpha males. When you see a bunch of individuals which might be fairly fired up in warmups, you recognize it is not simply considered one of 82 (games).”

Follow the Penguins all season lengthy.

Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review workers author. You can contact Seth by e mail at srorabaugh@triblive.com or by way of Twitter .

Leave a Comment