Attendance for the game was listed as 16,440. The total capacity for hockey at PPG Paints Arena is 18,187.
The streak started and ended with the Chicago Blackhawks.
On February 14, 2007, Valentine’s Day, the Penguins defeated the Blackhawks 5-4 in a shootout at Mellon Arena thanks in part to the talents of 19-year-old Sidney Crosby and rookie Evgeni Malkin, 20 years. .
The last game in the streak was a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks on Saturday at current venue PPG Paints Arena. Crosby, 34, and Malkin, 35, attended the game as spectators while recovering from off-season surgery.
The streak ends in the face of a persistent pandemic. With covid-19 still a harsh reality, selling tickets to just about any entertainment venue is a challenge.
“It’s a bit of the elephant in the room,” Penguins CEO and chairman David Morehouse said in an interview with local reporters during the game’s first intermission on Tuesday.
“I could research and come up with a few different crosstabs, but the pandemic is what happened to all of us. Baseball, attendance is down 30%. We are still not out of it. It’s pretty easy to say it’s linked to the pandemic. It’s a shame, but it’s two years of our life, two seasons. It’s going to take a little while for people to recover physically, emotionally, mentally, economically.
“It will take a lot of different levels before people come back to 100% from a two-year pandemic. “
Unlike many NHL teams, the Penguins do not have any vaccination or mask requirements to enter PPG Paints Arena. Masks are “recommended”.
“We told people ahead of time, if they’re not vaccinated, to wear a mask,” Morehouse said. “And if you don’t feel safe, wear a mask. We gave the possibility to the fans. It worked for concerts. It worked for most of the other teams. So, no, I don’t think it’s a reluctance. It’s a change in behavior. For the past two years, people have not left their homes to go to places like this. Now all of a sudden they’re open.
“The good news is a lot of people – because we were full for 14 years – didn’t know we still had match day tickets, that we had withheld tickets. Now people know we have tickets to sell.
“We have mini-plans. We have different games that will be open, and you can actually watch them. For over a decade, many fans now thought they couldn’t make a match. Now you can. “
The Penguins, like all teams in the NHL, went through a difficult 2020-21 season in which most games were at zero or limited capacity. Despite such an obvious loss in terms of ticket sales – a form of income that is far more important to NHL teams than other professional sports franchises – Morehouse suggested that the team’s operating budget – on the ice, at least – would not be adversely affected.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve never had a discussion about not spending on the cap,” Morehouse. “And we still haven’t. “
Like any business dealing with covid-19, the Morehouse doesn’t know what the next step is. But he expressed steadfast optimism about Pittsburgh’s devotion to the sport.
“If you had told me 14 years ago you would be doing 14 years of sold-out, I would have said no, I think you’re crazy,” Morehouse said. “But I think our fan base has proven that Pittsburgh is a hockey city. They went out and they keep going out. Without a pandemic, we wouldn’t even be talking (of the end of the streak). It just shows the strength of the region, the strength of the support of sports teams. And in particular, Pittsburgh has become a hockey town.
Seth Rorabaugh is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] ou via Twitter .