Bill Cowher's hometown loyalty could be tested for the second time in 3 1/2 months if the Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference final against the Carolina Hurricanes. Only this time, the former Steelers coach has to pick between his hometown and his home.
Cowher, a Crafton native who grew up watching the old Pittsburgh Hornets, now lives in Raleigh, N.C., home of the Hurricanes.
"It would be hard going against Mario's team because I have too much affection for Mario [Lemieux]," Cowher said yesterday before heading to the rink to watch the sixth game of the Hurricanes-Boston Bruins series. "But, then, I have to live down here now."
In Super Bowl XLIII, Cowher's loyalties were tested when the Steelers, a team he coached from 1992-2006, played Arizona, coached by many of his former assistants. He claimed neutrality on that one.
But Cowher has become quite the Hurricanes' fan since his move to Raleigh after he resigned as Steelers coach. He has attended all their playoff games this season, become friends with Carolina associate head coach Ron Francis, a former Penguin, and cranked the Hurricanes' warning siren in each Game 3 of their two playoff series, one home win and one loss.
If the Penguins and Hurricanes meet, Game 3 will be in Raleigh.
"My wife and kids are telling me you can't do that siren if the Penguins play here," Cowher said. "At this point, I'm just hoping one of them get here."
So, what will it be if they meet?
"That's the big question. Game 3 again? I don't know. We'll see."
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .