Reporting Bob Allen
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After six seasons with the Penguins, Jordan Staal was dealt Friday evening to the Carolina Hurricanes where he’ll be teammates with his older brother, Eric.
The trade went down at the CONSOL Energy Center, which was playing host to the NHL Draft; but Staal was preoccupied elsewhere as it was also his wedding day.
Since Friday, Pittsburgh has been the hotbed of the hockey world, playing host to the annual NHL Entry Draft.
This is the second time since the late-1990s that Pittsburgh has hosted the NHL Draft, and many fans were left stunned by the Staal trade.
The event did give Randy Wilson and his family lots of last memories though.
“It was a blast,” said Wilson. “The kids got on NHL Network down there today with the signs. They had, “Mario, pick me!” signs.”
But the Penguins’ major trade announcement sent shock waves through the arena.
“Just the fact that you immediately, you traded a popular player, but were able to draft a new, 18-year-old prospect in your own building, I think people were able to look to the future,” said Tom McMillan, the Pittsburgh Penguins VP of Communications.
In return for Staal, the Pens get Brandon Sutter, defensive prospect Brian Dumolin and the eighth-overall pick, with which they took Derrick Pouliot.
Fans are already learning to live with the fact that Staal, who has been a fan favorite during his time with the team, is gone.
“We couldn’t afford him; I mean, great pickup with Sutter. That was the best we could have done was get rid of him,” said Jay Gamrod, a Pens’ fan. “We’re paying Sidney Crosby a lot of money.”
Staal was traded on the same day he got married. In fact, he was midway through his wedding reception when he found out.
“I wonder what his wife is thinking about that?” said Pens’ fan Mindi Wilson. “That’s some news for you on your wedding day.”
The NHL Draft brought thousands of people to Pittsburgh. And for the most part, the home fans were hospitable, even to some hated rivals.
“My wife’s from Philadelphia, and she even got treated well here,” said Shawn Moore, a Detroit Red Wings fan.
“I think I was referred to as, ‘Hey, Wild fan,’ quite a bit,” added Bo Marchwick, a Minnesota fan. “It was fun.”
Now that the draft is over, the next project for the Penguins is bringing the All-Star Game to Pittsburgh. But, the ultimate goal is the Stanley Cup, and fans are confident the team has taken a major step in that direction.