Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins in Saitama.

The Pittsburgh Penguins opened their 2000-2001 season in Ōmiya, Japan, with a two-game series against Nashville on October 7 and 8. The Nashville Predators' website says
[t]he two games drew the two largest crowds ever to witness hockey games in Japan (13,849 for the first game and 13,426 for the second game)
though the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seemed disappointed that each night the Saitama Super Arena was 4,000 under capacity. Reports from the Post-Gazette on the 5th and 6th focus largely on the poor ice quality and on writing "sushi" a lot.
Most of the Penguins will tell you they love sushi.

They just don't like skating on it.
The paper had forward Matthew Barnaby write a few "Postcards from Japan" during the week. On October 7 he wrote about sushi, and about the arena:
The arena we're playing in is huge, absolutely massive, without a doubt the biggest one I've ever seen. You can see it from miles away when we're driving in. And it's really beautiful. We don't have anything like it back in North America.
The Associated Press noted in its write-up of the two games:
Over 13,000 spectators at the Saitama Super Arena watched the action in mostly calm concentration. The relative quiet was broken only by the sound of blades on the ice and fans'excited cheering at particularly dramatic moments.
Barnaby again, about his impressions of Japan, on the 5th:
The thing that amazes me the most is how orderly everything is.

You drive through town and see a million cars driving around, but nobody's honking a horn or running red lights, not even the taxis. You see a million people on the streets, but nobody's jaywalking or bumping into each other.

It looks like chaos, but it's not. Everybody follows the rules.

Really different. Really weird.

There are just so many people here, even late at night. We went out at 11 on our first night here to check out some of the restaurants and nightspots, and it's still a mob everywhere you go.

It's like New York, only way bigger, which is amazing when you think about how big New York is.
Ōmiya was merged with two other cities in 2001 to form Saitama, a sister city of Pittsburgh.

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