Pittsburgh is a sports town, or tahn; depending on “whereabouts” “yinz” are from. It has also held the moniker, “City of Champions,” since the 1970’s. It’s become expected that the city’s sports teams be at the very least in contention for whatever title they are competing for. The last champion the city had was the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Who will be the next?
City of Champions
In recent years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the most consistent city team and have had yearly chances to win the Stanley Cup. Of course, falling short every year since 2009 leaves question marks about how close the team really is to winning it all.
This past season saw many changes to the roster and to the front office. A new General Manager, new Head Coach, and many new faces on the ice failed once again to live up to expectations. While it was commendable in trying to “grit” up the roster in an effort to make the team tougher to play against come the post-season, the results were simply not there.
That’s not to say injuries haven’t played a major part in the team’s failure – as they have. Still, one cannot simply wait and hope that this next season will be the season they stay healthy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the most successful of the city’s teams over the course of the last 50 years, but since their last championship in 2011, the roster has seen a major overhaul. The offense has only 8 players remaining from that championship team, while the defense has only 4. While the youth movement is well underway for the Steelers, only time will tell if this group has what it takes to fill the shoes of the ghosts of champion’s past.
Often overlooked for the past 20 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have turned their franchise around and are the “up and coming” team in the city. PNC Park is now packed with rabid fans who are releasing years worth of pent-up excitement like a steam engine ready to blow. With superstar Andrew McCutchen leading a young, hungry team out into the field every night, it’s hard not to see a blindingly bright future for the team.
Who Ya Got?
Could the Pens stay healthy and return the Cup to Pittsburgh? Absolutely, as a bit of health and luck is what they need most to get over the hump. Hockey is often about peaking at just the right time, and with guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the way, there is always a chance.
Have the Steelers found suitable replacements for the likes of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor? Can the offensive line keep Ben Roethlisberger upright? Will the young players step up? There are too many questions marks surrounding the Steelers to see them winning the Lombardi Trophy right away.
It’s my belief that the Pirates will be the team who returns the City of Pittsburgh to glory. Their roster is deep, with solid pitching and a talented bench; there is no reason (other than injuries, of course) to think that the “Buccos” aren’t the most complete team in town. I believe it’s their time to join the Steelers and Penguins by winning a championship in this new millennium.
Which team do you think is next to add to the long list of champions in Pittsburgh?
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.