ShareThis Page
What an assist! Penguins lend a hand for Valentine’s Day charity gala | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

What an assist! Penguins lend a hand for Valentine’s Day charity gala

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, February 15, 2019 3:22 p.m.

More than 800 fans spent Valentine’s Day with the hockey team they love.

The second annual Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation’s “Night of Assists: The Sweetheart Swing” charity gala presented by Highmark took place Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.

Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan, with wife Kate, called the event one of the more enjoyable things the players do throughout the season.

“It’s about helping the community that supports us and a way to interact with the fan base,” Sullivan said. “And it’s for a great cause.”

The foundation’s mission is to promote physical well-being, encourage teamwork, stress the value of education and provide essential life skills to young people in the community through hockey and other activities.

Proceeds will benefit the foundation’s youth initiatives and special needs programs for children throughout Western Pennsylvania.

The latest theme was “Spit Shine Your Shoes … We’re Going Dancin.’

And dance they did.

This soiree took guests back in time to the 1940s glam era where many women wore flappers, beaded head pieces, pearls, and swing dresses. Men donned suspenders, bow ties and pinstripe suits.

The Penguins players donned newsboy caps, suspenders and bow ties.

Emcee Dan Potash of AT&T Sportsnet hosted the event in the center of the arena atop the Sweetheart Stage, where he invited everyone to cut the rug with big band music playing.

There was a silent auction with items such as Fly with the Pens, a chance to take a flight with the team during the 2019-20 season, a trip to Hawaii, as well as an opportunity to play human bubble hockey for a guest and five friends on the ice during intermission of the April 4 game.

Pens captain Sidney Crosby poured wine and mixed drinks at a bar, having to ask for an assist from one of the full-time bartenders on a concoction he hadn’t heard of.

The bartender walked him through the process, beginning with adding ice into the glass.

“Ice, yes ice, I know all about ice,” Crosby said. “That’s an important part. You can’t forget the ice.”

Crosby waited on a line of guests, some three and four people deep, always with a smile and stopping between pours to get in a photo.

Trib Total Media sponsored an earlier VIP reception.

During player introductions, the team wore Pittsburgh Hornet red-and-white jerseys. The players autographed them before they were auctioned.

The event raised over $450,000.

Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation said over the past year they’ve built two new dek hockey rinks, grew its youth hockey programming and created the We Are The Future program recognizing young leaders in area high schools.

They’ve also expanded efforts focused on mental health and well being through the COOL Zone program and Streets for Strength initiative driven by the players.

“Tonight, you are part of our team,” Soltesz said. “Tonight, together with the Pens, we toast the same goal … charity. Thanks to your ticket purchase, auction bids and donations, you will assist in furthering our mission, which is focused on building a better and brighter future for our youth in the Pittsburgh region.”

General manager Jim Rutherford, with wife Leslie, said the Night of Assists is a more interactive evening for fans and players than other events.

“Some events can be awkward, but pouring some drinks and playing some cards is easy and fun,” Rutherford said. “The players love it. I realize it is happening during the season, but it is part of our business, and it’s important to do this for the Penguins Foundation which helps so many people. It’s so well run you would think you are in Disneyland.”

In the crowd, we spotted Penguins vice-president of communications Tom McMillan, Lauren and Stephanie Lemieux, Colby and Melissa Armstrong, Bryan and Jen Trottier, KDKA’s Bob Pompeani with Lisa and their daughter Celina Pompeani and Mac Mathison, ESPN’s Stan Savran, Trib Total Media president and CEO Jennifer Bertetto with husband Keith, WPXI’s Alby Oxenreiter, and artist Tom Mosser, who was wearing skates doing a live painting of a penguin using a hockey stick as a brush.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, jharrop@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


746508_web1_ptr-pensassists4-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Penguins players Jack Johnson (from left) , Tanner Pearson, Casey DeSmith and Zach Aston-Reese stand for a photo during the VIP Reception presented by Triblive.com held as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises funds for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists6-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan and wife Kate stand for a photo during the VIP Reception presented by Triblive.com held as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises funds for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists3-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Trib Total Media CEO Jennifer Bertetto and husband, Production Director Keith Bertetto, stand for a photo during the VIP Reception presented by Triblive.com held as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises funds for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists2-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Penguins players Brian Dumoulin (from left), Matt Cullen, Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta toast during the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises money for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists10-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin mans a game table during the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises money for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists9-021519
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang mans a game table during the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises money for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs.
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists1-021519
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby takes the stage as his name is called during the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises money for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs. Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
746508_web1_ptr-pensassists12-021519
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby makes a drink during the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation Night of Assists at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. The annual charity gala raises money for the foundation’s youth and special needs programs. Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.