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Penguins rally around wounded city after Squirrel Hill shooting

November 20, 2018

When teammate Matt Murray handed Casey DeSmith a warrior’s helmet, the token the Pittsburgh Penguins give to the internal team MVP of each victory Saturday night in Vancouver, there was only one thing on the mind of the 27-year-old goalie who had just made 29 saves to lead his team to a 5-0 win.

“This one is for Pittsburgh, boys,” DeSmith said.

The victims, family, friends and members of the community affected by Saturday’s shooting in Squirrel Hill had been at the forefront of DeSmith’s thoughts all day. He said he couldn’t go into detail, but his fiancee works in government and was involved in the response to the shooting, so he felt a tangential personal connection to the goings on.

“Throughout the course of the day, I was thinking about it,” DeSmith said. “I think sports is one of those things that is obviously not important, but it can help lift spirits.

“To get a win like that, late night after everything had happened, the city was going through such a hard time. I thought it was appropriate to just say that one was for the city that one was for everybody back home in Pittsburgh who was going through a tough time. That was what we could do from really far away.”

DeSmith’s sentiments were echoed around the locker room Monday, as the team practiced at home for the first time since returning from a Canadian road trip Sunday night.

Captain Sidney Crosby, for instance, has spent nearly half his life representing the city of Pittsburgh via the logo he wears on his chest.

He said he’d like to do whatever he can to alleviate his second home’s suffering, even if it’s only to a small degree.

“Try to play for the city as we always do, but especially in times like this,” Crosby said. “It’s a terrible thing that happened. We’re thinking about everyone involved. Hopefully we can do all we can to support and help them right now.”

The team scheduled a blood drive at PPG Paints Arena on Monday and will take up a collection for victims and their families at Tuesday night’s home game. The club’s charity arm, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, made $25,000 donations to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and to the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety to establish a fund to benefit the four Pittsburgh police officers injured Saturday.

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