I was scanning the comments on the power rankings at NHL.com, and of course there were a bunch of fans of all different teams crying about how much attention the Penguins are getting, never mind that the attention has been well-earned. Anyway, a know-it-all Flyers fan (redundant) and a know-it-all Bruins fan decided to regurgitate the widely-believed-but-nevertheless-totally-inaccurate story about how the Penguins went bankrupt and almost left Pittsburgh due to a lack of fan support. I've never posted on NHL.com before, but I really do get sick and tired of listening to lies get repeated often enough that everybody considers it the truth. Here's my reply:

Quote Originally Posted by Me
So many revisionist historians, so little time, I tell you!

Lots of people seem to think that the Penguins' bankruptcy in 1998 had something to do with a lack of fan support. No, it didn't. It had to do with then-owner Howard Baldwin making stupid business decisions. Here's a link to an article from 2003, detailing exactly what went wrong:


Here are three juicy quotes from the article:



"Baldwin cared deeply about the Penguins and their fans and, for a time in the 1990s, was the city's most beloved sports owner. But no one knew at the time he was keeping a winning team together by giving huge contracts to Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and so many others that he didn't have the money to do the deals. It wasn't until the franchise filed for bankruptcy in October, 1998, that we realized just how reckless and foolish many of his decisions were with the players, with Spectacor Management Group, with Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and with city and county officials."


"Faced with an uncertain future because of Lemieux's retirement and still feeling the pain from the killer work stoppage, Baldwin had to bring in Boston millionaire Roger Marino as a new partner in '97. Marino still must regret the day. He later said he didn't realize just how bad many of Baldwin's decisions were.

Although the contract with SMG, which managed Mellon Arena, was cited as the overriding cause of the bankruptcy, it was Baldwin's deal with the city and county that still could force the Penguins out of town. In '97, he accepted a $12.9 million Band-Aid for club seats and other improvements at the arena instead of jumping on the Plan B bandwagon with the Pirates and Steelers, who built terrific new facilities."


"'I just hope that everyone back there -- the mayor and the politicians -- gets behind Mario. The hockey fans there deserve it. They probably don't think much of me, but they're great fans.'

It's no wonder Baldwin is rooting so hard for the Penguins.

If they don't make it, his fingerprints will be all over the corpse."


Simply put, the bankruptcy had nothing to do with the fans.

Lots of people also seem to think that the Penguins' relocation threat in 2007 had something to do with a lack of fan support. No, it didn't. It had to do with Mario Lemieux getting tired of waiting for the new arena he was promised when he took control of the team in 1999.

After the city of Pittsburgh faced a budget crisis in 2003, Lemieux hitched his wagon to Isle of Capri Casinos. Isle of Capri agreed to build the Penguins a new arena with their own money if they were awarded a license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to build a casino in Pittsburgh. They were in competition with Harrah's and Majestic Star for the license, and ultimately lost the bid to Majestic Star in late 2006. This is when Lemieux began to play hardball and threaten relocation. Thankfully, a deal was made that got CONSOL Energy Center built.

Home attendance in Pittsburgh averaged 94% of capacity during the 2005-2006 season, and 97% of capacity during the 2006-2007 season. (It was during this season that the Penguins' current sellout streak began.) Attendance did drop during the three poor seasons prior to the lockout, but then that makes Penguins fans no different than Blackhawks fans, really. People in Chicago weren't exactly filling the United Center to watch the Blackhawks back when they were lousy, yet they don't get half the **** for it that Penguins fans have gotten for it.

Similarly, the Blackhawks don't even get half the **** for sucking their way into Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane that the Penguins do for sucking their way into Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Blackhawks are basically the Penguins' doppelgangers in the Western Conference, yet nobody hates them for it. I've had it with all the double standards and revisionist history.

As always, the truth requires some research. Lazy people propagate lies. There are many non-Penguins fans who are lazy. If you're not a Penguins fan and you're reading this, then read my quote above and learn.