Just one month ago, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh played host to the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, with the Penguins and Washington Capitals facing off on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home turf.
Now the Steelers will take to the ice – sort of.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are showing their support of the NFL club’s pursuit of a seventh championship as they host FOOTBALL FRIDAY, sponsored by McCarthy Tire, this weekend.
Friday night’s Penguins contest versus the Manitoba Moose will feature football-themed prizes throughout the night, intermission activities that would look more at home on the grass than the ice, and one very noticeable difference - the Penguins have changed their center ice logo from their crest to the famous Steelers logo.
“We thought this would be a great way to show the franchise’s support for another Pennsylvania team, while having a little fun for our fans” said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton CEO Jeff Barrett. “When you see Marc-Andre Fleury skating out for a three stars announcement wearing a Steelers helmet, you can see what a great relationship the two Pittsburgh teams have. We wanted to do our part in backing the black and gold as the Steelers go for another title.”
The Penguins came up with the idea to use the Steelers logo after seeing pictures of the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville’s AHL affiliate) painting their offensive and defensive zone faceoff circles green and gold in support of the Green Bay Packers.
“We just couldn’t let the Steelers go unsupported after seeing another AHL club helping out the Packers,” said Barrett.
So last Friday, the Penguins dropped the Steelers and email to ask about possibly using their logo in ice. It took nearly no time for the NFL squad to give their blessing.
The next obstacle was getting the piece produced. The center ice logos at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza are not actually painted into the ice – they are mesh banners that are placed underneath it. The Penguins quickly got on the phone with a company out of Canada which produces the mesh, and placed a rush order, which arrived at the arena on Monday afternoon.
Fred Paisley, Jim Henderson, Speed Williams and the arena crew worked late into Monday night to make sure the 25’ x 25’ logo was down with plenty of time to spare before Thursday morning, when the Moose plan to practice at the facility.
While the Penguins allegiance will be obvious on Friday, Barrett knows that not everyone in Northeast PA is a Steelers fan. But that shouldn’t take away from the fun of the evening for anyone.
“There are thousands of Steelers fans in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas. There are probably just as many Eagles and Giants fans, too,” he said. “This is all being done with fun in mind. We want everyone to come out and have a good time on Football Friday.
“We’re encouraging all fans to wear their favorite football team’s jersey to the game, whether that’s a Steelers jersey, an Eagles jersey, a Patriots jersey – or even a Packers jersey.”