Leading up to Monday’s Game 1, Puck Daddy is previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks — on the ice and off the ice.
The San Jose Sharks don’t have a dedicated anthem singer. Instead, they rotate through local singers and occasionally the notable guest singer.
What makes the Sharks anthem unique is the crowd involvement. Let us stop you before you start thinking of the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans cheering during the anthem. This is much less, well, polite?
After the announcer asking the fans to rise and remove their hats for the singing of the anthem, the Sharks’ homecrowd yells, “HEY [visiting team]! YOU SUCK!” Here’s an example from the first round of this year’s playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings:
Anthem singers not accustomed to this local tradition have known to be thrown off by the crowd. Especially when the ‘YOU SUCK’ part coincides with the singer’s name.
As for the Penguins, singer (and Dave Coulier lookalike) Jeff Jimerson has been belting out the anthem for the Pittsburgh faithful since the 1990-91 season.
One of his most poignant moments with the mic is on October 22, 2014 when he sang ‘O Canada’ to honor those involved in the tragedy in Ottawa earlier that day. No Canadian teams were playing in the game.
ADVANTAGE: PENGUINS. Fans love a friendly face. Fun fact: Jimerson played ‘Anthem Singer’ in the 1995 movie ‘Sudden Death’ starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
For the first two years of the Sharks existence as a franchise, they played in an arena named the ‘Cow Palace.’ This wasn’t a nickname. It was actually called the Cow Palace. In 1994, the team moved into San Jose Arena. This locale has been home ever since. The arena has undergone four name changes with the current being SAP Center.
SAP Center has been recognized as the biggest success story in the revitalization of downtown San Jose. SAP Center, also known as “The Tank,” exemplifies the architectural excellence and technological innovation of the Silicon Valley and includes the latest in audio and video technology. The building has a glass pyramid entry and unique stainless steel façade. Most noticeable is the high resolution LED center hung scoreboard — one of the largest in North America and a full-color moving LED fascia display.
In the past decade the Shark Tank has been one of the loudest buildings in the NHL when full. Yet, the Sharks saw a drop in attendance at the beginning of this season.
Since their beginning in 1991 at the Cow Palace, the Sharks have been one of the NHL’s shining examples of how hockey can work in a nontraditional market. They had a five-year streak of sellouts, 205 games overall. For a span of nine seasons, starting in 2006, they played to 99.8 percent of capacity at their 17,562-seat arena. Just once in franchise history — in 2003-04 — did average home attendance fall below 96 percent of capacity.
For the first time in franchise history, they failed to sellout a playoff game in Game 1 against the Nashville Predators. (A quick look at the Ticketmaster site for Games 3 and 4 appear to be sold out – aside from resale tickets – at the moment; however, the team has released tickets on the day of throughout the playoffs leading to some empty seats.)
One thing the Sharks had been chided for for years was their Washington Capitals-esque display of banners. Our friends at The Canafornians show just a few of what is on display in the rafters, including the ridiculous ‘regular season champions’ banner (second from the left):
Look on the bright side. They’ll get to add at least a Western Conference Champions banner to start next season.
One other unique feature of the SAP Center is the hovering head of a shark that rises and lowers from the rafters. Players skate out from its mouth when they come on to the ice. It kinda looks like the shark is barfing up the team.
SAP Center is a popular venue for all things outside of hockey, too. So much so that Andrea Bocelli’s concert was scheduled smack dab in the middle of the Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks put Lord Stanley ahead of Bocelli on the list of priorities forcing the tenor to reschedule his concert.
Who cares if the man has the voice of an angel when there is hockey to be played?!
As for the Penguins, they spent a majority of their existence at the historic Civic Arena/Mellon Arena until they moved into the lavish confines of Consol Energy Center; a venue befitting a king (or the second coming of Penguins hockey).
Ever sat down in a stadium seat and wondered when the seats got so small (and not that your butt is getting bigger)? You won’t have that problem in Consol! The arena boasts “the most comfortable seating arrangement in the NHL — seats up to 24 inches wide, with an accompanying increase in legroom.”
The Penguins showed how they can do banner overkill, too. Many of theirs are earned over the 49 years of existence, but did they need banners for MVPs and scoring titles (far left) when they’re the same guys all the time.
When set up for hockey, the arena holds – wait for it – 18,087 fans. Yes, the number ending in 87 is in honor of Sidney Crosby.
The crowd noise has been of some debate since the arena opened. One wouldn’t know that if they paid attention only to Game 7 versus Tampa.
“I thought it was incredible,” [Mike] Sullivan said. “It’s the loudest that I’ve heard a building in all my years I’ve been associated with this league… to the point where we had to scream to the players on who was up next.”
Sullivan says his players appreciate every decibel of support they get from their fans.
“They’re passionate about their team. They want to see them succeed, and I thought tonight it was on display. It was the most electric building I’ve seen,” Sullivan said.
That isn’t been the case all along. Many said the arena is/was too quiet, and hasn’t matched the atmosphere in the intimate setting of Mellon Arena.
From Pittsburgh Sporting News in October:
“It was fun to play (here), especially coming from Pittsburgh,” he said to Islanders Insights. “It’s pretty dead there.”
[Thomas] Greiss, who played only one season in Pittsburgh before signing a free-agent deal with the Isles this offseason, may have a point. Despite the Penguins’ 377-game home sellout streak, his criticism is one that rings true. The environment at Penguins home games hasn’t been the same since they left Mellon Arena for their new digs across the street in 2010.
Part of the problem may be that the Penguins have priced out the average fan. The average ticket price at Consol Energy Center last season was $73.59, a more than 100% increase over the last 10 years.
With the team on the market for sale, and demand for tickets still high, change in that department will be slow to come by.
(Remember, Greiss now calls BARCLAYS CENTER home. Is it a player scored or an indictment on the crowd?)
That quote brings up a good point. Pittsburgh tickets are expensive. How many “real fans” can afford the expensive seats especially during a final.
At the time of publication, the Penguins were still selling Game 1 tickets (via Ticketmaster, non-resale) in the lower bowl for $375-$580 per seat. Less seats are still available in the lower bowl for Game 2 at $420 a pop. We’re pretty sure the tickets will get sold or given away to a VIP by puck drop, preserving the 428 game sellout streak by the Penguins.
ADVANTAGE: SHARKS. They’ve sold out their two games at home, and have consistently been one of the loudest buildings in the NHL – not just in Game 7.
Both teams underwent a goal song makeover this regular season.
The Sharks had used Gary Glitter until this season when they finally realized why no one else used the song in their arenas anymore.
As a part of the 25th anniversary season festivities, they put the new goal song to a fan vote because what could go wrong, right?
We lent our full support to the [ear bleeding] LMFAO remix of ‘Shots’ as ‘Sharks.’ As did California rival fans of the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings who surreptitiously voted often for the song.
The Sharks brass allegedly caught wind of what was happening and intervened. They went for the way less exciting, yet often used Jock Jam of “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited.
Prior to this season there wasn’t a clear cut goal song for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Last season, an ongoing joke in the press box was that it was tough to remember what the Penguins used as a goal song, even a minute after the goals themselves. They opted for “Kernkraft 4000” and “Rock And Roll, Part II” a lot.”
(The latter is the Gary Glitter song the Sharks used, too. Probably time to retire it anyway.)
Thanks to Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies (a.k.a. PSAMP) a social media campaign was launched to change the song to ‘Party Hard’ by Andrew W.K.
Party Hard is the ultimate expression of joy, happiness and love for one another. These are all feelings associated with watching your favorite hockey team score a huge goal at home. Hugs all around, people. There are few songs with such power and direction. Andrew tells you to Party Hard? You Party Hard.
There’s an idea that “partying hard” is not the exact image the new stuffy Penguins and CONSOL braintrust is trying to convey. This is the worst argument ever, you tool. See here, Andrew has a long history of using his platform as a means of enriching the lives of everyone he meets. Party Hard is not a mantra of getting drunk and high and puking in the street. Party Hard is a vehicle of letting your true emotions flow out of you unrestrained so you can use all of that energy to make your life better simply by making the lives around you better. Imagine a timely goal by Sidney Crosby snowballing that inevitable avalanche? There’s simply no way of getting around the positive impact the song and feeling has created.
It worked. The Penguins debuted their new goal song against the New York Rangers on October
ADVANTAGE: PENGUINS. Don’t ask for fan input unless you’re ready to accept what’s next.
Don’t you love it when Shark Week and hockey combine?
are we headed for the first Stanley Cup Final ever where one logo has actually physically eaten the other logo pic.twitter.com/4dMw8JxIyR
— Bic Pentameter (@AnthraxJones) May 26, 2016
Nobody describes the (somewhat ridiculous) specificity in the team’s home and away jerseys quite like the poor soul in marketing that had to write the description for the website.
The Sharks debuted the newest iteration of their uniforms for the 2013-14 season. Here’s how they describe their home and away sweaters:
TEAL: Worn as the home sweater, the teal look debuted during the 2013-14 season as part of The Next Wave. The look is clean, focusing on the Sharks primary color, Pacific Teal. The player’s number, located above the crest, on the sleeves, and on the back, are in white lettering with a black trim. Each shoulder has the jumping Shark logo. The sweater has neckline lacing, a homage to hockey sweaters from years past.
WHITE: Also debuting during the 2013-14 season, the white sweaters were worn during away games. The look is unfettered, with the Pacific Teal contrasting against the white fabric. Similar to the teal sweaters, each shoulder has the jumping Shark logo and neckline lacing. The player’s number, located on the sleeves, on the back, and above the crest, are in Pacific Teal with a black trim.
“The Penguins’ jerseys now feature thicker Vegas gold side sections, while the black and white body portions of the jersey go all the way to bottom hem. The cuffs and underarms are black on the white-based jerseys and are white on the black-based uniforms. Additional Vegas gold inserts appear on the sleeves just below the numbers. The NHL shield also has moved from the back right hem to the base of the neckline.”
The team adopted their alternate jerseys as their new home jerseys for their playoff run, and you can see why:
“The Penguins went back to the future during the 2014-15 season, unveiling the ‘Pittsburgh Gold’ third jerseys reminiscent of the sweaters the Penguins wore during their back-to-back Stanley Cup championship seasons of 1991 and 92.”
ADVANTAGE: PENGUINS. The black and gold is synonymous with the city of Pittsburgh and professional sports (no matter what Boston says).