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Penguins notebook: Popularity with ladies brings test event to Consol

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 8:42 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Re
The crowd gets excited at the start of the Penguins' playoff game against the Islanders as they watch Wednesday, May 1, 2013, from the 'Fan Zone' in the parking lot across from Consol Energy Center.

Mothers apparently would let their daughters marry Sidney Crosby — or most Penguins, actually.

Increasingly popular with the female demographic, the Penguins will serve as the NHL's test franchise for a merchandising event aimed at women. PensGear for Her, featuring vendors that specialize in products for females, will take place starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday near Section 109 of Consol Energy Center before the Penguins' game against New Jersey.

“It's less about how much it sells and more about doing something unique and interesting,” Penguins vice president/sales David Peart said.

If PensGear for Her is a success, all clubs will hold a similar event in March, including the Penguins for a second time, Peart said.

The idea generated from discussion Penguins and NHL executives held at the NHL Exchange trade show in July. League officials were impressed with the Penguins' popularity among females regionally and across North America.

Scarborough Research reported that female attendees at Penguins games grew by about 110 percent over the past five years. That growth was 90 percent regionally. Female attendees ages 18 to 34 grew by 330 percent.

Peart agreed that having players such as team captain Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang — two of the more popular Penguins among female fans — has helped boost popularity.

“There are layers,” Peart said. “Yes, a lot of our female fans are teenagers who would want to date Sidney Crosby. But a lot of them are mothers who look at Crosby and our other players and think they are good role models for their families.”

Injury updates

Defenseman Brooks Orpik (concussion) is not cleared to take a cognitive baseline test required as part of NHL protocol, coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday. Players diagnosed with a concussion must be symptom-free, then pass a neurological examination — the Penguins, as do most clubs, use the UPMC-originated ImPACT test — before gaining return-to-play clearance.

Orpik was injured while being jumped by Boston's Shawn Thornton at TD Garden on Saturday night. He was knocked unconscious, and Bylsma has confirmed Orpik experienced memory loss, headaches and neck soreness.

Thornton's in-person hearing with NHL Player Safety is Friday.

There is no time frame for Orpik's recovery.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi (ankle) and winger Tanner Glass (hand) continue to skate on their own and could rejoin team practices in three to five days, Bylsma said.

New threads

The Penguins will unveil their Stadium Series jerseys Friday.

The jerseys, which will be worn for the game against Chicago on March 1, 2014, at Solider Field, will not feature alternate colors or a new emblem. However, they will have a metallic look and commemorative patch.

The jerseys will be available for presale at the arena's PensGear store and on the Penguins' website. Authentic jerseys will cost $225, replicas $185. The Penguins expect to have the Stadium Series jerseys in area stores by the first week of January.

Tickets for the Penguins-Blackhawks outdoor game went on sale Wednesday and were soldout by Thursday, the league announced.

Around the boards

Center Evgeni Malkin practiced Thursday at Southpointe Iceoplex. Malkin played Monday after missing two previous games, but he did not practice Tuesday. … Suspended winger James Neal lost a shootout competition at the end of practice. Through Christmas, his car will be decorated like Rudolph the reindeer, complete with antlers on the hood and a red rubber ball as a hood ornament.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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