Since the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff berth quite some time ago, it’s clear that tonight’s game won’t be the last meaningful hockey game ever played in crusty old Mellon Arena. Still, it’s obvious that the Igloo’s days are numbered. Tonight’s game against the New York Islanders marks the final regular season the Penguins will play at what was once called the Civic Arena (and the Civic Auditorium). The arena was built in 1961 and the Penguins began playing there in 1967.
As the next few days go by, we’re going to discuss some of our fondest memories (and maybe even some things that we were too young to remember or even see) of the fabled arena. One interesting fact is that all three of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup victories actually came on the road. Abandoning the old barn means that one of the last places that has true character (and the feel that fans are “right on top” of players) will be taken out of the NHL arena rotation, although few visiting players will shed a tear for the “minimalistic” amenities provided by Mellon Arena.
The Tribune has a fantastic roundup regarding the ancient building. The article includes top games, loved/hated players throughout the arenas history and possibly my favorite part: all-time numbers for the longtime building.
THE IGLOO BY THE NUMBERS
857 – wins
576 – losses
205 – ties
28 – OT/SO losses
6,127 – goals for
5,366 – goals against
13 – scoring champions
134 – consecutive shutouts
58 – most wins (Flyers)
44 – most losses (Flyers and Canadiens)
Of course, for “modern” Penguins, the greatest moments are often a lot more … personal. Take, for instance, what the “Crosby/Malkin Era” players remember the most. It’s not a great win, a crushing loss or even that time a woman wore an embarrassingly low-cut shirt behind Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. Here’s their fondest story, as told to Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Interpolating from several versions, the story seems to go that someone killed a mouse in the alcove where players work on their sticks. As a prank, the dead rodent was placed in the shoe of then-Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney.
The last laugh went to the unfortunate mouse.
“We were waiting for him to get a big reaction,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “He just put his shoe on and walked right out with it in his shoe.”
Well, there you go.