NHL team invites seven lucky dogs to watch the action
By Patrick Cullen
The Pittsburgh Penguins are known for how they handle their business on the ice. They do so quite impressively, having won the Stanley Cup the past two years and three times in the past decade. Recently, however, it’s their efforts off the ice that are garnering the approval of fans, particularly dog owners. The Penguins organization invited seven service or rescued dogs, along with their owners, to the January 7th home game which saw the team hosting the Boston Bruins. Those invited had some of the best seats in the house as they watched the game from the “Puppy Party Suite” which has a great view of the action and was stocked with a hearty buffet for owners, as well as healthy treats for the dogs in attendance.
Selected by pitches made on social media, the seven dogs were all selected for their heartwarming rescue stories or their exemplary service records. Based on some of the names, it was clear that many of the dog-owner duos were huge Pens fans even before seeing a game from the awesome Puppy Party Suite. There was a dog named “Cupsie,” for the Stanley Cup, and two others named “Geno” and “Sidney,” after perennial all-stars and NHL poster boys Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Eight year-old Whippet, Geno, is a therapy dog who serves individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities and regularly visits oncology centers and their patients. Sidney, a beautiful yellow lab-husky mix, was rescued by owner Jake days before 2016’s Eastern Conference Finals’ sixth game, hours before she was supposed to be euthanized. Promising to name her after the first goal scorer in that game, Jake changed his mind when it was Phil Kessel to net the opening score. “She didn’t look like a Phyllis,” he said, so he deferred naming rights to Sidney Crosby who assisted the goal. It appears that name stuck!
The Puppy Party Suite was a hit and may have brought with it some good luck as the Penguins beat the Bruins 6-5 in a high scoring affair.
Photo: Twitter / @penguins
In addition to the Puppy Party Suite, the Penguins have been reaching out to dog lovers for years via their annual Penguins & Paws Charity Pet Calendar. The Penguins Foundation joins forces with Humane Animal Rescue to create an annual calendar featuring Penguins players and adorable puppies. All proceeds of the calendar sales go to Humane Animal Rescue.
Photo: Twitter / @NHLJets
Elsewhere in the NHL this season, the Islanders have invited a service dog in training with America’s VetDogs to drop the puck to start a game, the Jets have hired an anything but formidable security puppy, and Marc-Andre Fleury and the brand new Las Vegas Golden Knights organization helped Vegas’ Animal Foundation seek homes for 164 Pomeranians that were found abandoned outside the city. With the league doing all this for favorite animals, try tuning into the next game your local team plays to check out the sport and the athletes that love dogs just as much as you do.