Leading up to Monday’s Game 1, Puck Daddy is previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks — on the ice and off the ice.
Celebrity sports fans are like super delegates in a presidential election. They don’t have to show up for anything but the main event, and people will still go nuts over them.
Everybody wants at least one because they are way more important than the people who paid for admission and aren’t fawned over by the team they love.
The celebrity fan game is a big part of the Stanley Cup Final. It can mean the difference between a one minute highlight package on Sportscenter (in the US) or an one minute and fifteen second highlight package with a celebrity. The bigger the star, the higher up the highlight in the States.
Check out some of the fans and see who we think has the advantage in the celeb market.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
This is the Sharks 25th season as a franchise which is pretty young in hockey terms. They don’t have long standing traditions as their opponents, and as much as we love Pat Falloon, not many people are clamoring for throwbacks of former players.
The Sharks cultivate a random base of famous fans. Many are transplants to the Bay Area with San Jose sitting just shy of 45 miles outside of San Francisco.
Take our first celeb as an example.
Neil Young is a music icon, and is (or was) a long time season ticket holder for the Sharks.
Young, who is Canadian, caused a bit of an uproar among Sharks fans when he was featured in an ad in 2011.
“I want my season tickets delivered to the house. Thank you very much,” he says on the phone as the commercial begins. Then he turns to the camera.
“Who am I going to root for — the Sharks or the Jets,” he says. Then there’s a pause.
“Go Jets!”, he says, as the commercial fades out.
He appeared to have made amends in 2013 as he was caught a San Jose playoff game. Who wouldn’t want to sit next to this bundle of joy just oozing with sports fandom.
In January 2015, the Sharks held Metallica night at SAP center. The team created special Metallica jerseys just for the band.
Enter the Sandman for Game 6. Metallica front man James Hetfield was on hand as the Sharks punched their ticket for the Stanley Cup Final.
There are people reading this blog who weren’t even a glimmer in their parents’ eyes at the time Kristi Yamaguchi won her gold medal for Team USA in figure skating.
At the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, she triple-axled her way to America’s Sweetheart status; she also happened to meet her future husband at the games – Bret Hedican, who was playing hockey for Team USA. Hedican, now retired, is a color analyst for the Sharks local broadcast.
Clearly winning a gold medal is a big deal, but how many people can say they’ve won a gold medal AND a mirror ball trophy from Dancing With the Stars? Kristi can.
Now THAT’S a winner.
If you know who Richard Dean Anderson is, congrats, you’re even older than those who remember Kristi Yamaguchi.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you might know him better as … MACGYVER.
He’s a handy character to have around.
Sharks get locked out of locker room? He’ll twist together beard hair from Joe Thornton and Brent Burns to pick the lock. Team plane makes an emergency landing over a body of water? He’ll create a boat out of Patrick Marleau’s eyebrows and Logan Couture’s front teeth.
Sure he’s a fictional character, but he’s better than someone named Richard Dean Anderson.
What is the penalty is for a mascot biting the head of a former Secretary of State? Asking for Sharks fan Condoleezza Rice.
After leaving Washington behind, Dr. Rice decided on a life in academia. She holds professor and fellow positions at Stanford University. Hockey is not her No. 1 sport, though. In several interviews she has talked about becoming NFL Commissioner someday.
A sundry of Bay Area athletes and teams have taken to social media to wish the Sharks well under the hashtag #BayAreaUnite and #BayAreaTurnUp. The most popular vote of confidence, of sorts, comes from reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
The bobblehead he’s holding was a special giveaway for a Warriors preseason game in San Jose versus the Toronto Raptors (appropriate, no?).
Surely Steph would be in attendance if the Warriors weren’t embroiled in their own playoff battle (at the time of publication).
Lastly, this dork may not be a Sharks fan, per se, but he did take a pie to the face after picking them against the Kings in the playoffs years ago. So that’s something. Perhaps his decision to NOT pick them in Round 1 this year led to their success.
The Penguins will mark their 50th anniversary in the NHL next season giving them twice as much time to pickup fans. Having Sidney Crosby on your team doesn’t hurt when it comes to the bandwagon market either.
Many of the Penguins celebrity fans are from the Western Pennsylvania area, like this first guy you might have heard of.
Michael Keaton is a native Pennsylvanian; hailing from Robinson Township outside of Pittsburgh. The actor has a ton of hit movies under his belt like Beetlejuice, Batman, and Birdman. He’s a long serving Penguins fan.
Check him out in a broadcast from 1991:
He showed up to the Penguins Cup Final appearances in 2008 and 2009. Perhaps if Sidney Crosby says his name three times out loud he’ll appear at this year’s final.
Also from the greater Pittsburgh area is Joe Manganiello.
The True Blood and Magic Mike actor is seen above celebrating the Penguins berth in the Cup final in Violent Gentlemen gear (a company started by another Western PA product, George Parros).
Academy award winning actor and native Australian Russell Crowe is a big fan of the city of Pittsburgh in general.
“Been a Penguin fan since 1998, when I did a movie (“Mystery, Alaska”) about ice hockey,” Crowe said. “Jaromir Jagr took me under his little Penguin wing and, actually, at one point in time, he said, “You know, Russell, I really admire your heart, but you don’t have the ankles to be a skater.’”
Just look at how excited he is after the team won.
Everyone knows about the newest addition to the Penguins family: Shawn Michaels.
The retired WWE wrestler known as the ‘Heartbreak Kid’ or simply ‘HBK’ is finding new fame among the faithful as the HBK Line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel dominated the better part of the Penguins playoff run.
Everyone is asking HBK if he’s going to be there for the final. Someone just needs to tell him when it is…
Like the Bay Area teams with the Sharks, the Pittsburgh sports teams are rallying around their hockey players.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole went to game in the Capitals-Penguins series and quickly became ‘THAT GUY’ at every game.
So much so the usher had to tell him to knock it off when he was banging on the glass. Friend of the blog, Sean Gentille, caught him heckling Caps players.
The Steelers were in on the mix as well.
Retired DE Brett Keisel and his glorious beard have been regulars through the run. He even hosted Shawn Michaels when he came to Consol.
For Game 7, both wide receiver Antonio Brown and head coach Mike Tomlin were in among the plebeians waving their towels.
Brown’s current contract is worth just shy of $42-million. Yet, somehow Coach Tomlin ends up with the better seats. Players can be replaced, but in Pittsburgh, Steelers’ coaches are (practically) forever.
The last of the famous Pennsylvania natives is one Penguins fans would like us to ignore – Taylor Swift.
Why? The Taylor Swift curse, of course.
She was gifted the jersey above in October 2009, right after the Penguins won their last Stanley Cup. They haven’t won one since. Also, all the players in this picture are now EX-Penguins.
Advantage: Penguins. Their celebs might actually make it on TMZ in a story that’s not about them going to the giant ice rink in the sky.
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