The Pittsburgh Penguins have some of the game's top young players, they're riding a 167 game sellout streak, and they're arguably the most visible NHL franchise of the day, participating in high-profile Stanley Cup Finals and Winter Classics in recent years. With the brand so hot right now, one might think the organization would think themselves above needlessly reaching out to the fans. However, the Penguins are an organization that "gets it."
Cue the so-called "Student Flush" that's drawn national media attention. The team is going to let students stand in line for the chance to go into the spankin' new Consol Energy Center and participate in a test to flush all the toilets simultaneously to test the water works, so that everything is in order for the first intermission of that first game. Surely they have enough construction workers/contractors and team employees to have quietly run this test, as every other new building does, but they're opening it up to the young fans to have a good story.
The Student Rush, though not unique to Pittsburgh, has become something of a Penguins tradition. In the past, students on a tight budget could pay just $15 for the best seat in the house the day of a game, and sit a few rows from the ice in a half-full Mellon Arena and watch such Penguin non-legends as Martin Strbak and Steve McKenna probably lose yet another game.
High draft picks follow losing, so along came Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin, and the team got good again. Unlike some other markets that have eliminated Student Rush programs when they could sell tickets at full-price (coughWashingtonCapitalscough) the Penguins have kept the Rush. Of course, the Student Rush is limited now, because the economics of supply and demand are just a cold reality -- a lesson students will learn when they enter the real world. But it's still around and the team often has fan favorites like Maxime Talbot and Eric Godard deliver pizzas to the students, many of whom wait hours and and hours in the cold during the day just for the chance to buy a ticket.
ESPN and other blogs may chuckle at the Student Flush. Let them. It's goofy, but it's just another sign the team "gets it." For the stories those participants will have and the sneak peak of the new arena, it's definitely worth it and just another sign that as an organization the Pittsburgh Penguins usually do things the right way.