we are two german students working for our graduation.
We are searching for the meaning the steel crisis and their social effects had on the Penguins in the seventies.
We noticed that the Pens got better during the city got worse.
We want to request you for giving us some information about the influence the weakened inhabitants had on the growing power of the franchise especially on the team spirit and the connection between fans and the team.
As far as I recall Penguins attendance was still an issue throughout the 70's even when the team was making the playoffs pretty much every year... they were largely overshadowed by the Pirates and the Steelers at that time. There's probably not a causal correlation between the relative success of the Penguins and Pittsburgh's economic troubles at the time.
The drafting of Mario Lemieux in 1984. He has had more of an impact on a franchise than any other player in any other sport I can think of. Not only did he save the team on the ice multiple times, but off the ice as an owner.
So what do you think has made the pens such popular as they were in the 90s and so on...?
or which specific event?
Being a foreigner I can't say much, but probably spcastlemagic is right about not correlating both things. The Pens had some great players during the 70's despite the economic conditions and made the playoffs several times.
Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps Jr, Lowell MacDonald, Rick Kehoe, Dave Burrows, Ron Stackhouse, Ron Schock and the brief, but impressive career of Michel Briere. These guys, their success on ice and Briere's tragedy certainly bonded the city and the team back then.
but could it be that Pittsburghs inhabitants saw the pens pirates and steelers as a "last hope" in rough times?
Don't know if that's the case, the Steelers were stacked - especially on defense - and winning Super Bowls in the second half of the decade almost every year. Also a team with stars. The Pirates won a couple of World Series, but I don't see much of co-relation between one thing and another and sure I wish I had last hopes like these.
Sports are a scape valve for people, so probably it feeds your morale, but doesn't feed your belly. Other factors, like that Renaissance Project and other stuff they did are what re-vitalized the city.