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Penguins under fire for photoshopping masks onto hockey fans

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The Pittsburgh Penguins sparked online backlash Wednesday after a social media staffer photoshopped face masks onto fans in a photo taken during the team’s first home game in front of spectators since last March.

“We just had to say this again … thanks for the continued support, Penguins fans,” the team’s official Twitter account posted alongside an image showing all fans properly wearing face coverings. “We can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.”

The ice hockey team had returned to PPG Paints Arena a night earlier to face the Philadelphia Flyers en route to a 5-2 win. Just 2,800 people were allowed inside to watch the action and a zero-tolerance mask policy was in place. It was the Penguin’s first home game in front of fans since March 2, 2020, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

But some eagle-eyed Twitter users noticed something was amiss. In the original Getty photo, an unmasked female fan is seen in the top-right corner, while two others didn’t have their faces properly covered.

One critic quickly called out the seemingly doctored image as “terrible BS” from the team.

“Either enforce the rules or don’t, but don’t lie to us either,” the tweet read. “Piss poor jobs Pens.”

This is the original photo seen with some fans incorrectly wearing their mask at the Penguins game on March 2, 2021.
This is the original photo seen with some fans incorrectly wearing their mask at the Penguins game on March 2, 2021.
Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another critic admitted “growing pains” with the mask policy was expected considering it was the first home game with spectators — but still said the team should “do better.”

Meanwhile, another person joked that the team’s account appeared to be operated by an “actual penguin.”

“Photoshop is hard with no fingers,” the reply read.

In a statement to The Post Thursday, the team acknowledged that a social media staffer sent out the “altered” photo and has since been reprimanded.

“We are excited to have our fans back to PPG Paints Arena, and following the advice of medical professionals, we are taking all precautions to enforce the use of masks to keep our fans safe,” the statement read. “We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, and our arena staff having roving teams to enforce during home games.”

The Penguin's Instagram account shows the same image allegedly photoshopped so all fans are properly wearing their masks.
The Penguin’s Instagram account shows the same image allegedly photoshopped so all fans are properly wearing their masks.
Instagram

The team said the “perhaps well-intended” staffer, however, should not have manipulated the wide crowd photo of “a few fans” who weren’t following the rules.

“Our social media team should never send out altered photos to our fan base,” the statement continued. “This is a violation of our social media and safety policy, and this staffer has been disciplined.”

Fans were allowed back into the arena after Gov. Tom Wolf raised capacity at indoor venues to 15 percent, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“We’re grateful for the loyalty that our fans showed during this difficult time,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

“We feel like we have some of the most loyal fans in sports. These guys have been so supportive of our players over the years. I know the players are appreciative of that.”



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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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