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Former Penguinette "thrilled" with Preds success

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Haddock, who was 18 years old at the time, received an all-access pass for the Pittsburgh Penguins home games at the Pittsburgh Civic Area for the 1971-72 season. JOSH CROSS
Gallatin resident Debby Haddock was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins organization to be one of the hockey team's six Penguinettes during the 1971-72 season. JOSH CROSS

For Gallatin resident Debby Haddock, having her two favorite hockey teams compete for the Stanley Cup doesn't make watching each game in the series any easier.

The Pennsylvania native, who was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins to be one of the team's six Penguinettes for the 1971-72 season, has served as the director of sales for the Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce for the last seven years.

"I'm really excited for the Predators because just watching Nashville come to life for this is so much fun," Haddock said. "The whole excitement is just so unique and new to the city and that's why it's just so crazy right now."

Admittedly, Haddock did not know much about hockey before she became a Penguinette at the age of 18. The group, which was used for publicity and to help promote ticket sales for the team, received an all-access pass to the Igloo Club inside the Pittsburgh Civic Area as well as two season tickets for each home game that year.

"It was very exciting to have that kind of publicity at that age," Haddock said. "Meeting the players and having crushes on them was a lot of fun too as well as getting to know the sport.

"Back then, they actually had a live penguin as a mascot and every now and then it would go out on the ice while we were skating. We would have to stay away from it because it would peck at you, but we could skate faster than it could waddle."

Following the 1971-72 season, Haddock moved to New Orleans where she lived until Hurricane Katrina forced her and her husband to relocate in 2005. Within three months, the couple had bought a house in Gallatin, where they have lived ever since.

Haddock, who is now the director of sales for the Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce, said that while the Predators are one of her favorite hockey teams, the Penguins are still here "favorite, favorite."

"(Sports) is a way of life in Pittsburgh," she said. "As they said the other night on TV, when you play Pittsburgh you don't play the team, you play the city. My family are avid fans and if I were to root for another team I would probably be disowned and lose my inheritance."

After losing the first two games in the Stanley Cup Final to the Penguins last month, the Predators came back to even out the best-of-seven series this week at 2-2. Game 5 will take place Thursday in Pittsburgh with Game 6 being played in Nashville on Sunday.

Regardless of who wins, Haddock said she feels the success of the Predators this season will only add to the growing popularity of Nashville. And, if the Preds can win it all, she added that she will be "absolutely thrilled" for the city and the team.

"There are people that just live and breathe sports and with the Preds doing this well this year, next year the excitement is going to be even more so for the team," Haddock said. "It's just adding to the wonderment of living here. This is just such a great place and it's attracting more and more people."

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