Sandy Darling has been a Penguins season-ticket holder for over 40 years. And that’s how long it’s been since he’s dreamt about one day meeting one of the Penguins.
So one can only imagine Darling’s emotions two weeks ago when the Penguins notified him that a member of the Penguins would be visiting him Monday afternoon at his Squirrel Hill home to deliver his season tickets.
“Every day gets longer,” Darling said. “I’m elated. I’ve been thinking about it for 40 years and finally got it.”
Darling was in near tears and shaking when he saw Penguins captain Sidney Crosby standing at his door.
“It was amazing,” Darling said with wet eyes. “You can’t imagine. The surprise was absolutely great.”
“It was really exciting,” Darling’s wife Carole said. “This is his dream come true, to have one of the players bring us tickets.”
Darling did have one request: “Can I arrange for next year? Does he need a chauffer? I have a driver’s license.”
Fourteen Penguins players visited season-ticket holders at their home or workplace to hand deliver their 2013-14 season-ticket packages. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi, Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett, Craig Adams and Simon Despres took part in the sixth annual Penguins Season-Ticket Delivery.
“Sandy has been a season-ticket holder for over 40 years, that’s a long time,” Crosby said. “It’s nice to personally meet fans and have an opportunity to do this.”
Crosby met with the Darling family, discussed hockey and signed some autographs. But the Darling family also had a gift for Crosby, a piece from the Civic/Mellon Arena roof.
“This is not something you get everyday,” Crosby said. “Not everyone gets a chance to have something like this so I’ll definitely cherish it.”
Crosby also met with Karon Siewiorek, a Saskatchewan native. The two bonded over stories about their home country of Canada.
-Fluery's first stop was at the home of Rob Miller in Bellevue. Rebecca, the daughter of Rob and Gail, was told by her parents that she had to stay home from school today for a dentist appointment. As it turns out, there never was a dentist appointment but the fourth grader was pretty happy with the result. After Fleury signed jerseys, pucks and pennants for the Miller’s, he said jokingly to Rebecca, “Wow, fourth grade and you are already skipping school?!”
-Rob offered to have the entire Penguins team over to Sidelines, a bar and grill he owns and operates in Sewickley. When he mentioned specifically about an “end of the year” celebration, Fleury responded, “I’ll keep that in mind for sure.” To make sure he did not forget the name of the restaurant, Fleury wrote down the name on his forearm in permanent marker.
-“I think it is great to see the families up and close, and talk about family stuff,” Fleury said. “It is pretty cool for us also to meet the families and on a personal note, to see how they are. Again, today was a great experience.”
-Fleury also visited the home of Mike Scarlatelli and his family, where he was started to shake off some rust in net. Scarlatelli’s two youngest daughters took a handful of slap shots and posed for pictures with the goaltender.
-Orpik made his first stop of the day at the Lamb residence, where he signed some memorabilia and played a little street hockey with Tyler, Tucker and Trevor Lamb. Orpik had no trouble using a cut-down junior hockey stick, scoring on his only shot attempt of the afternoon.
-Don Lamb and his son Jason have been season-ticket holders since the 1986 season when they moved here from Manitoba, Canada. Don and Brooks have previously played together in the annual Summer Sticks golf tournament the Penguins play at the beginning of every season (this year’s tournament will be played Tuesday).
-The final stop for Orpik came at the home of Rob Randall, who has been a season-ticket holder for the last four years. Randall reminisced about also having season tickets in 1967-68 when Penguin greats Schinkel, Bathgate and McDonald were members of the team.
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