At the races

Crazy Fun Facts About the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins were founded in 1967 in the NHL’s first expansion. The league went from six to twelve teams. Can you imagine a professional sports league with six teams? “OK, we play you guys on Monday, then we play the other guys on Wednesday, they you play us on Saturday, and we play those other guys next week. And then we just repeat that 45 times.”

There was a lot going on in 1967. “The Milton Berle Show” last aired on ABC. Hey, have you heard this Milton Berle joke?: I’m 83, and I feel like a 20-year-old, but unfortunately, there’s never one around.”

The Penguins weren’t the first NHL team in town. The Pittsburgh Pirates were active on and off from 1925-1931. They took their name from the baseball team in town. “Sure, why not call every team in town ‘The Pirates.’ Pittsburgh Pirates football, Pittsburgh Pirates basketball, Pittsburgh Pirates roller derby, Pittsburgh Pirates tiddlywinks…”

When the Penguins took the ice in 1967, the Amercian Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Hornets shut down. They franchise appeared for the first time in Pittsburgh in 1936, moving from Detroit after nine years there as the Detroit Olympics. The Hornets used to play at the old Duquense Gardens, the very first rink to use Glass on top of the boards. Prior to glass, arenas used wire mesh. “I liked the wire mesh better,” one fan said. “That way, when a fight broke out right in front of you, you could stick your finger in the eye of guy on the opposing team. Old time time hockey, good times.”