I haven't written anything in a couple weeks*. Blame that on the off-season or Rio, it doesn't matter. On the plus side, Dan has been doing great work as usual with the annual NHL Draft coverage and features on Minnesotans. I'm sure no one has noticed with all of that popping up.
So this is my attempt to get back on the horse. The subject: lights on buildings.
Last week while flipping channels I went from one Pittsburgh team to another. With the Penguins having just scored a goal against Ottawa to make it 4-2 inside Scotiabank Place, the search for another sporting event on TV - one that was closer in score - landed upon the 9th inning of a 1-0 Cubs-Pirates game at PNC Park.
I figured I could catch the end of the baseball game and switch back for the final 5-10 minutes of Penguins-Senators. That happened. What I missed, however, was Pittsburgh scoring not once but twice.
Or did I? The baseball broadcast had a camera that would cut to a building with a goal light on it every time the Penguins scored. Despite not watching live, thousands of people throughout the Steel City knew when their team scored.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Pittsburgh will be a red-light district when the Penguins score during the remainder of their Stanley Cup playoff run.Well played Pittsburgh. Well played.
The Gulf Tower's roof, illuminated by energy efficient LED lights since last summer, was configured to resemble a goal light every time the Penguins scored in their Stanley Cup playoff game victory over Ottawa on Friday night.
Fans outside Consol Energy Center, watching the game on a giant video board in a parking lot previously home to Civic Arena, noticed the red-lit roof of the 44-story Gulf Tower after captain Sidney Crosby's second of three goals, around 8:15 p.m.
Honestly, I think it would be a good idea for St. Paul or Minneapolis to borrow down the line. Hockey is a community sport and that might not be more true than in Minnesota, the self-proclaimed "State of Hockey." As other areas move more and more into traveling and elite team-based systems, high school and community-based hockey remains king in Minnesota. There is no other place in the country that can sell out an NHL arena like the Minnesota state boy's HS hockey tournament (or be known as "the tourney" and have people understand what you are saying). Even the Memorial Cup in Canada drew half that for round-robin play this year.
Still, the focus is on the NHL and getting the community, not just the hockey community, in touch with the Wild. Some of that happened during the recent playoff run. Besides record numbers of viewers on Fox Sports North and NBC, downtown St. Paul was up in a fervor much more than any regular season game. There were jerseys everywhere, people in the streets, radio stations broadcasting live and packed restaurants and bars around the Xcel Energy Center.
It was nothing compared to a regular St. Paul evening, which is stereotyped to shut down at 5 p.m.
Pittsburgh has the same thing going. Although it is more of a NHL town with its hockey (that is changing as the city develops more players, the Frozen Four was there this year and Robert Morris continues to grow), the old playoff traditions and mixed with new like the Gulf Tower goal light is the best of both worlds. Having the city skyline bring people together is miles ahead of seeing "Go Wild" on a city bus.
Of course, I don't know if that idea is actually possible to work in St. Paul or even Minneapolis (the Target headquarters is lit up at night thanks to local 3M-designed lights). There are likely challenges and red tape that make it more than the simple answer I make it out to be with some pieces in place. This is just one man's thought and dream.
Hockey in the Twin Cities is bigger than the NHL and why it makes sense for a city which flashes the number "1" at night to think about having a goal light the next time they make the postseason. The Wild are the lone team in Minnesota's capital city. Sometimes that is a detriment, but its uniqueness shines over the Minneapolis sides at times. We saw that during Minnesota's brief postseason run and I'd like to see it grow more down the road.
Photo Credit: KDKA Pittsburgh
*Technically wrote this before the Sheppard/draft order piece that is below. Your move "don't want to be THAT guy" commenter.