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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, June 15, 2017 1:00 am

In The News

Some 650,000 fans cheer for Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup championship, the first an NHL team has won back to back in almost 20 years, spawned by far the biggest victory parade of any of the franchise's five titles.

An estimated 650,000 people turned out along a downtown parade route that ended with a rally at Point State Park, city public works and public safety officials said Wednesday. A sunny day with temperatures in the 80s didn't hurt, as the smell of sunscreen was as pungent as the Penguins' love in a city that boasts, officially, only 305,000 residents.

“These guys are fierce competitors,” coach Mike Sullivan told the crowd from a stage in the triangular park formed by the confluence of the city's three rivers. “They just know how to win.”

Roughly 400,000 fans attended last year's celebration, which was the biggest for any of the team's Stanley Cup championships to that point.

The Penguins won the cup Sunday against the Nashville Predators with a 2-0 win in Game 6. And the championship was sweetened by the adversity the team overcame.

Playoff MVP and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was knocked out for the better part of two games with a concussion against the Washington Capitals, and the Penguins played without their best defenseman, Kris Letang, who had neck surgery before the playoffs.

Fans also learned defenseman Ian Cole played through a broken hand and broken ribs. Brian Bonino, who broke his leg in Game 2, hobbled around on crutches while taking selfies with fans.

– Associated Press