By Teresa Varley
There is a message that the Steelers want to send to the Pittsburgh Penguins after their quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in a 3-2 loss against Detroit Red Wings.
Hold your head up high because you have plenty to be proud of.
Steelers players and head coach Mike Tomlin have been regulars at Mellon Arena throughout the season and especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They are fans of their fellow athletes who sport the black and gold and appreciate what they accomplished this year.
"What they did for the city, uplifting the spirit, the heart and the fight and determination they brought forward was awesome," said Ben Roethlisberger, who was at Wednesday night's final game. "They did a great thing this year."
Tomlin, who started to follow hockey while he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their secondary coach, quickly became a Penguins fan after arriving in Pittsburgh over a year ago.
"That team should be congratulated for what they've done," said Tomlin. "I am sure it will hurt for an extended period of time and they'll roll it up and get back to work.
"I am a fan like anybody else is a fan. They have a great product, they have a great game day atmosphere and it's fun to be a part of that."
Tomlin said what he admires most about the Penguins is the grit and determination that they play with.
"They play an aggressive game," said Tomlin. "To come back two days after the game they played the other night you have to respect that. It takes a toll on their body. They are legitimate tough guys. (Ryan) Malone took a puck to the face and he is still out there playing. You have to respect that."
"They are tough son of guns," he said. "That's what I am talking about with heart and determination. That is what Pittsburgh is about and they showed it throughout the season, playoffs and the finals."
Roethlisberger knows that no matter what people say, dealing with a tough defeat isn't easy. But he hopes that knowing so many people are proud of them will help the Penguins bounce back.
"It's hard to tell them its okay because you know how they feel," said Roethlisberger. "You understand what they are going through. You understand all of the hard work they put in and now it's over. Words are hard right now because they aren't feeling great.
"But they are a young team with a lot of potential. There is nowhere to go but up. We're behind them and excited for next year."