PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN/AP) — Arguably, no NHL franchise has been more positively impacted by the draft than the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Official word came on Thursday that for the second time, the team will host it.
Less than 10 months after the city served as the site of the annual Winter Classic outdoor game, commissioner Gary Bettman was in Pittsburgh to confirm the Consol Energy Center will host the next draft in June.
Bettman cited the Heinz Field outdoor game and the 1997 draft as high-profile league events staged in Pittsburgh, prompting Penguins president David Morehouse to joke that Bettman left out two recent Stanley Cup finals. Morehouse also used the press conference to publicly lobby to be awarded a future All-star game.
“The commissioner now knows that since we hosted the Winter Classic and [have] the draft, I’m going to be bugging him about the All-Star game soon,” Morehouse said. “We’re looking to get that, too, commissioner.”
Bettman acknowledged Morehouse’s latest push and said the Penguins’ persistence has been a major factor getting these events in Pittsburgh.
“David is a passionate advocate for the club and for the city of Pittsburgh and for this building,” Bettman said. “He has made it known that any events that are available, we should be considering Pittsburgh.
“That’s why I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you’re seeing, in a very brief period of time, the Winter Classic — which probably is even more coveted in some places than the All-Star game — and the draft.”
Twice at a time when the franchise was floundering both financially and on the ice, the Penguins drafted players No. 1 overall who would become among the best in the game during their eras in Mario Lemieux (1984) and Sidney Crosby (2005). Each player led a resurgence that elevated the Penguins to both profitability and a Stanley Cup.