By now I'm sure everyone knows I'm a Leafs fan. I have been since I was born. And then I became a Crosby fan, ad through him, I started liking the Pens. I'd like to think I'll continue watching them post-Crosby era, though probably not as passionately. Whether that makes me a bandwagoner or a fan or whatever, I don't really care. But by investing myself into both the Leafs and Pens, two very different teams with two very different histories, I get an interesting point of view on both teams and their fanbases.
The other day, I tweeted that Pens fans shouldn't be calling Pittsburgh a hockey town yet. I thought it was pretty obvious, but it turns out a lot of people don't agree with me. Last year, the Pens sat at 4th in the league in the percentage of average home attendance, at 100.9, and are currently in the middle of a 200-something game sellout streak. My point is that anyone can sell out games with some of the best players in the world.
Some of the wonderful people on twitter chose to argue my point by saving that at least they're better than Leafs fans. I'm sorry, what? If you choose to compare the Leafs with the Pens, please do so after your team has sold out roughly every game since WWII. Try having crappy basement-dwelling teams that are mediocre at best. Oh, you tried that already? How'd that turn out? Yeah. On top of that, we've been paying significantly higher prices than you to watch a team that's significantly worse than yours, if we can get tickets in the first place. That's why our platinums and boxes are usually filled with suits and their clients: that's why people get so mad when they're lucky enough to get seats, only to watch them play like crap. I realise I sound like an arrogant jerk, but if you want to compare the teams, the facts are facts. It doesn't make anyone any less of a Pens fan to accept them.
I know it sounds like I'm implying that Pens fans are bandwagoners. I also know people are tired of that implication. In my journeys across the internets, I've met many Pens fans who came before and after Lemieux and before an after Crosby, all of whom are passionate about the team and who I believe will continue that passion for the rest of their lives. But at the same time, there's just no evidence yet to assume that what's happened before won't happen again. The challenge, then, will be to make sure they don't repeat past mistakes. We all remember what happened pre-glory days. The fanbase has a lot of reputation-fixing to do post-glory days. And yes, these days still count as the glory days.
Let's go Pens.