Breaking the ice: Lemieux, Crosby become first people to skate at Consol Energy Center

For years, the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed the increasingly rare advantage of playing at home in an old arena. Rather than playing in a sterile*, impersonal new megadome the team played in crusty old Mellon Arena. As you may know, starting next season, that will change as the Penguins open the arena that Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin built: the Consol Energy Center.

* – Of course, judging from recent health code reports about the Verizon Center and other crummy concession stand situations, “sterile” isn’t such a bad description.

The team had video and a story about Lemieux and Crosby being the first two people to ever skate at the soon-to-be-opened palace. Before I get into some of the details from the story, check out the footage.

Two of the more hockey-relevant details regard the pros and cons of having a new building versus an old one.

One of the common issues with having an old barn is that there are some “bad seats” in the house while new arenas typically are designed to shoot down that problem. Lemieux raved about the sight lines in that article.

On the other hand, old arenas are known for having more charm than their fancier, newer counterparts. Both Lemieux and Crosby said that the seats are pretty close to the ice, though.

“We felt that the seats were pretty close to the ice and that should be great for the atmosphere of the building,” Lemieux said. “We thought that it was going to be great for the fans being so close to the ice. And we also talked about how beautiful the building looked.”

Besides how beautiful the arena looked from ice level, and much like Lemieux, Crosby was also blown away by how close the fans are going to be to the action.

“On the ice I just liked looking around at the building,” Crosby said. “It is first class all the way. When you are out there the stands and the suites seem like they are really close to the ice. That intimacy is something that we had at the Mellon, and I think we brought it here.”

For nostalgic fans, it’s always sad to see an old arena go. Even if the seats are cramped, the bathrooms are decrepit and the place is falling apart. Yet, if Crosby and Lemieux are correct, the Consol Energy Center might provide the best of both worlds – the bells and whistles of a profitable new arena plus the intimacy of an older design. We’ll wait and see, because chances are, they’ll get to test drive it in the playoffs soon enough.

Scroll Down For:

    Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

    Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
    Leave a comment

    Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

    Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

    The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

    In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

    This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

    The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

    This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


    Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

    Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
    Leave a comment

    The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

    Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

    With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

    If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

    Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

    Leave a comment

    The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

    Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

    In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

    But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

    But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

    Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

    As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

    On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season:

    Francis, Kurri, McKenzie named to Hockey Hall of Fame committee

    Ron Francis
    Leave a comment

    The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee added some big names on Tuesday — most notably, a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

    Ron Francis (inducted in 2007) and Jarri Kurri (2001) have been appointed to the committee, the Hall announced. Longtime hockey scribe and hockey insider Bob McKenzie was also named; together, he and Francis and Kurri will replace an outgoing trio of Lanny McDonald, Mike Emrick and Peter Stastny.

    Francis currently serves as the GM in Carolina while Kurri holds the same title with Jokerit of the KHL.

    More, from

    McDonald resigned his spot on the committee to become chairman, while the terms of Stastny and Emrick expired.

    The Hall also announced Eric Duhatschek, Michael Farber and Bill Torrey were reappointed to the selection committee for a further three-year term.

    The next big meeting for the new members of the selection committee comes in late June, when everyone gathers to consider candidates for the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame.

    The announcement for new inductees will be made on June 27. As we’ve written about in the past, the list of first-time eligible entrants isn’t exactly overwhelming, so this could be the year some “passed over” candidates get in.

    Among those in that category? Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Jeremy Roenick, to name a few.

    Related: Poll: Who should be in the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame?