Not even the sounds of new age music could have mellowed Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis after learning that his team and the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play Games 4 and 5 on back-to-back nights, in different cities, thanks to a Yanni concert that was scheduled at Mellon Arena:
"It is a shame that both teams will have to play back to back games later in the series because the Pittsburgh building - against NHL rules - booked a series of concerts and forced the league to alter the playoff schedule. This is bad for the league, both fan bases and for the players.
"The playoffs are very intense and physical and players need time to recoup. No one is advantaged by playing back to back games so no one can complain but it is unfortunate that the Yanni concert takes precedence over high quality NHL playoff hockey."
The Penguins wound up winning Games 4 and 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. In the midst of the controversy, Yanni spoke out and pulled the "I was a former athlete" card to try and quell any hostilities that could affect future CD sales and marketing campaigns geared towards hockey fans:
Yanni didn't express apologies or regrets. He instead cited his experience 'as a former national champion swimmer' for native country Greece.
'I empathize with the athletes competing in the NHL playoffs and understand the pressures under which they perform,' the statement said.
Little did Leonsis know that Yanni was clearly in the back pocket of the Penguins, as noted by a posting on Pittsburgh's official Facebook page (via a commenter over at ThePensBlog). That's the man himself up top (sans famous facial hair), sporting a Sidney Crosby(notes) Winter Classic '08 jersey before a recent concert at Mellon Arena.
With the Boston Bruins using Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake as a good luck charm and the Carolina Hurricanes taking inspiration from wrestler Ric Flair and former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, could Yanni now become the symbol of motivation for the remainder of these playoffs for the Penguins?