WEIRTON - Philadelphia Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette must have forgotten the old adage, "Loose lips sink ships."
After Sunday's 6-4 win over the Penguins in the Consol Energy Center, Laviolette credited his team's winning ways in the 'burgh to the savory barbequed ribs he has delivered to their plane for the ride home - ribs he special orders from, you guessed it, Dee Jay's in Weirton.
Laviolette, as the story goes, told reporters after his team's fifth-straight victory on Pittsburgh's home ice Dee Jay's ribs are the team's post-game meal-of-choice. According to CBSsports.com, Laviolette's went on to say, "Those ribs seem to be doing the trick. It went back to last year. Whenever the ribs are ordered, we win. I want to thank Dee Jay's."
FEEDING THE ENEMY — Dee Jay’s owner Dewey Guida, right, and his son, Michael, celebrate their love of hockey — Pittsburgh Penguins hockey — after the team’s cross-state rivals let slip their post-game ritual includes heaping helpings of Dee Jay’s renowned barbequed ribs. The Flyers have won all five games since the Pens moved into the Consol Energy Center in 2011, and after Sunday’s win, Coach Peter Laviolette told reporters it was all because of Dee Jay’s ribs. The teams close the book on the 2012 regular season Saturday in Pittsburgh, a prelude to what’s widely regarded as a brutal first-round matchup in the playoffs. - Linda Harris
Dewey Guida, the owner of Dee Jay's, said no thanks are needed. In fact, the longtime Penguins fan would much prefer to have been left out of the conversation.
"It started out so innocent," Guida said with a laugh. "Peter Laviolette and I have been friends for years. It goes back to when he was actually coaching the Nailers in Wheeling. We became friends, and we've kept the relationship up over the years, as I have with other coaches, like Scotty Bowman and Eddie Johnston."
Bowman and Johnston are ex-Penguin coaches. Bowman guided the team to the Stanley Cup in 1992 and Johnston will forever be remembered as calling out legendary Penguins player and owner Mario Lemieux's name as the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft.
"So many Penguins are my friends, I've had so many Stanley cups at my place," Guida said. "So for sure, let everyone know - I am a Penguin fan, not a Flyer fan. What happened was sometime last year, Peter wanted to treat his guys to some ribs, so I said sure. They were playing the Penguins and I brought the ribs up to the plane. Since the Pens moved to the Consol Center they haven't beaten the Flyers and on each occasion, I took ribs up to their plane.
"The last time, actually, was Sunday. He called me Saturday and said they wanted ribs, but to bring more 'cause his guys all want to eat them now. So, my wife and I drove up to the airport, dropped them off and left. After the game, little did I know he would go into the press conference and say the reason they won was our ribs."
Guida said when his son, Michael, first called to tell him an Internet firestorm was brewing among Penguins fans, he thought it was a joke. After all, the Penguins-Flyers game was Sunday (you know, April Fools' Day) and it also marked the eighth anniversary of the opening of the Three Springs Drive location.
By morning, about the time a Pittsburgh deejay (the radio kind) was trying to organize a ribs boycott, Guida said it was obvious Penguins fans needed to know he was one of them: He did a segment on the X-Morning Show on WXDX-FM and spent much of the rest of the day doing interviews and taking some ribbing from friends, family and customers.
"Hockey players change teams a lot," Guida said. "Just like Talbot (MaxTalbot, a former Penguin center who signed in June with the team's hated cross-state rivals, the Flyers). He was a hero with the Penguins, now he's with the Flyers. And I'll never forget how Phil Bourque came down here after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup and then was traded to the (New York) Rangers. They were playing in Pittsburgh so he brought the whole Ranger team down to eat. They won that game, and that year (1994) they won the Stanley Cup. So now, all of a sudden, there's this thing that if you eat Dee Jay's ribs you'll win the Stanley Cup. I'm not so sure about that - I ate two super-racks and then played Mega Millions and it didn't work, that's for sure."
Guida said he's used to feeding high-profile athletes, actors, musicians and politicians, including former presidents and would-be presidents.
"We have a fan base of our own," he said. "It's broad, it's big. We're huge with athletes - Merril Hoge (former Pittsburgh Steeler, now an ESPN commentator) will not come to Pittsburgh without coming to see me. I can go through numerous names of athletes who come here for my ribs, they're that popular. The nice thing is, this has brought a little attention to the City of Weirton and how important it is to have something everybody likes."
And come Saturday, when the Flyers close out the regular season against the Pens at the Consol Center, Guida said they'll be doing it without their post-game rib-mojo - a no-no in the superstitious world of hockey. Given that's it's a holiday weekend, Guida said his restaurant won't be open. And besides. there is that matter of his Penguin loyalties.
"No more ribs for them," Guida said. "And I pray, I hope, that the Penguins beat their skates off."