“Benjamin goes to one hockey game and this is the next day!!” — Ben.
And from Grace Heidinger, at the Penguins website today:
“The Pittsburgh BENguins”
As the Penguins tried to mount a comeback against New York Rangers on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena, at one point ‘Renegade’ started playing before the camera cut to Ben Roethlisberger standing next to Mario Lemieux – which the crowd absolutely loved.
While the song unfortunately didn’t end up spurring Pittsburgh to victory, the Steelers legend still had a great time at the game, where the Penguins honored the recently retired two-time Super Bowl champion for a remarkable career.
“Very humbling, very cool,” Roethlisberger said of the night. “It’s just so neat to be able to be here, to be a part of this special team, this organization, and these fans.”
To kick it all off, the Penguins took the ice for warmups all wearing ROETHLISBERGER No. 7 jerseys, which are being auctioned off with the proceeds going to Light of Life, a charity close to Ben and his family.
“The first time I saw the seven come out, I’m like, ‘oh, I didn’t realize there was a No. 7,'” Roethlisberger said. “And then I saw the last name, and it all kind of started to make sense.”
He stood in the corner with his wife, Ashley; two sons, Ben Jr. and Brodie; and daughter, Baylee; to take it all in. At one point Evan Rodrigues skated over and tapped the glass with his stick to get the kids’ attention before tossing a puck over, much to their delight.
A handful of Steelers jerseys and “Thank You Ben!” signs filled the crowd, and the six-time Pro Bowler made sure to acknowledge the support by taking a few selfies as the Penguins skated off the ice at the end of warmups.
After Jeff Jimerson ended the national anthem a few minutes later by waving a Terrible Towel in the air, the crowd followed his lead to welcome Roethlisberger to the ice for a ceremonial puck drop between Sidney Crosby and Barclay Goodrow. Ben walked the black carpet with a smile on his face and his fist pumping in the air as the fans in attendance greeted him with a standing ovation.
Just before he dropped the puck, Roethlisberger pretended to toss it like a football as if he were looking to throw a touchdown pass at Heinz Field, which the Penguins captain got a kick out of. As he left the ice, Roethlisberger fist-bumped the Penguins bench, and had a quick chat with Crosby and Kris Letang before leaving the ice.
Roethlisberger had actually gotten the chance to don some equipment and join those two, along with Evgeni Malkin, for some ice time following a practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex last month.
“That was a lot of fun to go up there and just really understand and respect what they do, and how good they are,” Roethlisberger said. “Obviously, some of the best in the world, those guys right there. It’s just fun to support them and watch them, and tonight was a great night.”