DETROIT/PITTSBURGH—As the Stanley Cup Finals continue, Penguins and Red Wings fans alike are urging their teams to spare their beleaguered cities the expense of a championship victory.
"We are extremely proud of our Red Wings, and we know they could certainly come through for us, but we beg them: Please don't make us throw an expensive and wasteful championship parade," said Detroit mayor and former NBA great Dave Bing, who wore a Penguins jersey as he spoke to reporters Wednesday of how he had done his civic duty in the turbulent 1960s and '70s by not winning an NBA championship with the Pistons. "The Western Conference championship is all our city can afford at this time."
Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl also spoke on Wednesday, telling the media that his city was "devastated" Tuesday when the Penguins won Game 3 of the finals after a financially promising 0-2 start.
"The Steelers' championship parade cost us roughly $6.5 million in street closures, float rental, security expenditures, and sanitation overtime—not to mention the incalculable loss of man-hours for our struggling local businesses," Ravenstahl said. "Pittsburgh can't afford to forget how the four Super Bowl parades we had in the 1970s were followed by mill closures, layoffs, and a decade-long recession. Let's go Wings!"
The first two games, both played in Detroit's aging, dilapidated Joe Louis Arena, went poorly for the home team as the Wings were unable to keep themselves from scoring. After the stalemate of the opening faceoff, which saw both teams remaining absolutely motionless for several minutes and refusing to touch the dropped puck until referees threatened to declare a double-forfeit, the players struggled valiantly to score on themselves and defend the opposing net in a contest that ended in triumph for the Penguins, who lost 1-3.
Game 2 was a virtual repeat, with the added ignominy of former hometown favorite and Michigan native Justin Abdelkader scoring the second of his first two NHL goals, putting the game away for the Red Wings and inching Detroit closer to Stanley Cup victory and economic collapse.
"I did everything I could, but Sidney Crosby just refuses to not lay down and die," said Detroit netminder Chris Osgood, who allowed only one goal in each of the first two games and took personal responsibility for the victories. "I tried scooping the puck in, I tried gloving it past myself, I used the stick, but it kept going off the post. The fans gave me hell, and they're right—I'll never forgive myself if we win the Cup and they have to close a bunch of schools."
Game 3 is being called a possible turning point, a dominant performance by the Penguins that has left a once-hopeful Pittsburgh staring at the dreaded prospect of not only a monstrously expensive come-from-behind victory in the series, but also the cost of hosting yet more games if the Cup Finals drag on.
Analysts were quick to dissect the sudden change in momentum. "They did everything they could, really—no real forechecking, Fleury went down on his back a lot, and they dressed defenseman Hall Gill. Hal Gill sucks. At one point they even tried to draw a penalty by putting six guys on the ice for 20 seconds, but the refs were letting them play, and the Wings just underwhelmed them," said Bloomberg financial analyst Hamilton Kublin. "Pittsburgh has to do a better job of neutralizing Crosby, Malkin, and Gonchar, or they'll win the championship and the city won't be able to keep the lights on."
"A Red Wings victory would be a big boost to civic pride, but the resulting celebrations would be a fatal blow to the city budget," Detroit City Council president Ken Cockerel, Jr. said. "I intend to ask Washington for a bailout in which they send Alexander Ovechkin to Pittsburgh for the length of the series. Whatever happens, I know Detroit will be rooting for the Penguins from here on out."
Mayors Bing and Ravenstahl have met publicly to discuss the series and wish each other luck, though neither seems willing to budge on the terms of the traditional mayor's bet they agreed to before Game 1, which states that the winning city will grant the losing city 5,000 full-time jobs in the manufacturing and technology sectors.