Fleury, the game's No. 1 star, skated onto the ice following the game waving a "terrible towel" and wearing a yellow Steelers helmet. When asked of his towel-waving skills, Fleury said, "I've got to work on it. I had the blocker on, though, so it was kind of stuck in there."
It's not so much the towel-twirling that made it all look a little goofy; it was the helmet. He looked like a kid about to participate in a soapbox demolition derby. Or the man-dummy in a self-defense class about to be attacked by an angry dog. Goalie masks > football helmets, no question.
That said, the Steelers' victory in the AFC championship game was clearly motivated by the Penguins. Fleury with the towel. A large banner at Mellon Arena proclaiming it was "Steelers Country." Mario and a large portion of the Penguins roster attending Heinz Field for the game against the Ravens. No doubt Troy Polamalu was glued to some locker room television, tearfully muttering to himself, "I'm scoring one today just like you did, Chris Minard!"
Seriously though: Is there another NHL city that exhibits this level of synergy between its NFL team and its professional hockey franchise? Especially in the sense that it's a two-way street: Ben Roethlisberger has actually done the honorable puckhead thing and exposed teammates to the unparallel joys of hockey in the arena.
Is there Bruins/Patriots synergy that goes beyond taking care not to schedule hockey games on Sunday afternoons? Why do we get the feeling Romo never turned to T.O. and said, "Yo, we gotta go to the arena tonight to see Sergei Zubov"? (And not just because Zubov never actually plays anymore.)
So it's Steelers/Cardinals in the Bowl, which should give football fans a taste of the 2002 Stanley Cup finals. Can we get a little friendly action going between the Penguins and the Phoenix Coyotes? If the Steelers win, the Yotes send Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski and Coach Gretzky to Steel Town. If the Arizona Cardinals win, the Penguins send the Coyotes $40 million in non-sequential unmarked U.S. currency by the end of fiscal year 2009. Seems fair ...