The Pittsburgh Penguins have a home sellout streak spanning five seasons and more than 200 games.
In 2010, Penguins games drew the highest local television audience of any city in the United States.
In December 2009, Forbes Magazine listed the Penguins as the fastest-growing brand in the league, and ranked their fan base the best among the 30 NHL franchises.
They all must have been reading thePensblog.
Since its inception in 2006, the immensely popular fan site has been the online hub for Penguins fans who appreciate humor, candor and wide-open reader involvement.
It’s all gone according to plan.
“We wanted to help pass along info, make people laugh, etc. — basically, we really started it because we had nothing to do.”
For those outside of Pittsburgh, thePensblog is one of the most popular NHL blogs going, averaging more traffic than Chinese rush hour. The site’s community is comprised, obviously, of Penguins fans. It is one of the funniest sports blogs going, if their online community is any indication.
Fans in Columbus and on Long Island are familiar with the site and its legion of fans. The site organized a pair of trips to two away games, a December game against the Blue Jackets and the April rematch with the New York Islanders, the first meeting following the gong show in early February.
The Columbus game ended in a 7-2 drubbing. Pittsburgh’s presence in Nationwide Arena was so immense, Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog ran a piece on the game, and the subsequent change in arena policy that followed.
The rematch on Long Island ended in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Penguins. The site organized bus trips to the game, which had thousands of Penguins fans on hand. The Penguins team website took notice of the plan and ran a piece acknowledging thePensBlog and their influence.
The site’s reach is immense and the number of fans flooding the site routinely challenges the limits of the its servers (good luck leaving a comment during tonight’s Game 4 against the Lightning).
The guys in charge were kind enough to grant us an interview to get a closer look at the madness. Derek, one of the sites creators and lead writers, answered a few of our questions.
THW: Who’s in charge?
Derek: Adam and I are the original creators. Stephen S. is the art creator. He started sending us graphics back in ’08. His work was far and away better than anything we had ever seen. After awhile we brought him aboard because he was doing so much work for us already.
Rick joined as a partner full-time in January, 2009. Eric, our Wilkes-Blog writer, joined this year, but we’ve known him forever. Akus is the queen of the comments section.
Stoosh is our weekly columnist, and a long-time commentor. He came on in the same fashion as Stephen. He was an active member of our comments sections, and he just always seemed to know what to say.
THW: Why did you start the site?
Derek: At that time, the Pens got basically no coverage. We wanted to help pass along info, make people laugh, etc. — basically, we really started it because we had nothing to do.
THW: What kind of features do you run with the site?
Derek: We have tons of things. Our xbox 360 and PS3 teams on NHL 11 have both won world championships. Our art store is just beginning to take off, but it is just flat nasty. Stephen does all the artwork personally, and has created some unbelievable work.
Rinkotology is our fantasy game that takes off on March Madness bracketology. People buy in and select postseason players much like they would a fantasy hockey team. We have given out thousands of dollars and our world championship belt over the years.
THW: What’s the relationship like with the team? Has the Penguins organization ever reached out to you?
Derek: The Pens have hosted us several times in the press box, and always given us the opportunity to have press passes.
It’s a great relationship. The Penguins have always been kind to us.
THW: What’s the relationship like with similar blogs for other teams?
Derek: Nothing but camaraderie. Over the years we have developed so much respect for our fellow bloggers. Doing this for almost five years, you kind of realize that your fellow bloggers are in the same boat. We have been able to really make friends with even Capitals bloggers. One of our favorite bloggers is Japersrink from Washington.
THW: How do you guys get along with other local media (other Pens blogs, credentialed writers, newspapers, etc?)
Derek: Our relationship with the local media is actually really good. With other Penguins blogs, it’s great. We are so proud to be a member of the Pens blogosphere, there are so many great ones. Over time we have learned to respect more members of the Pittsburgh sports media, and there are others who we can’t.
THW: What/Who is Charlie?
Derek: Charlie is our homosexual writer. People accused us of being homophobes so we reached out to Charlie. He gives us his opinion if he thinks something is over the line.
THW: What was the high-water mark for the blog, or your proudest tPb moment?
Derek: Oh man. This is going to sound lame, but every day that we get an email that says ‘thanks for making me laugh’ is a high-water mark. Just to know that you can entertain one person is good enough for us. Really, we think of our readers as our friends. We have met so many unreal people, exchanged emails with so many people.
Honestly, we wonder what our lives were like before we started doing this.