Thursday, April 8, 2010

v2, d39: End of an Igloo

Well it's not technically the last game ever to be played in Mellon Arena, but due to the NHL Playoffs'--shall we say, unpredictable?--nature, the Pens organization thought it would be wise to host their au revoir ceremony before tonight's regular season home finale. Probably a good move.

For those not in the know, Mellon Arena, called The Igloo because, well, it looks like an igloo, has been the Penguins' home since the team first came to Pittsburgh in 1967. It's the oldest arena in the league, literally decades behind just about every other facility, and has long needed to be replaced. For a long while, it looked like the Penguins weren't going to get a new arena, and the team almost moved. (To Houston, actually) Fortunately, an eleventh-hour deal was struck, and the Pens stayed put and won another Stanley Cup, and next season they'll be moving into their brand new home.

Lots of history around the Igloo. I think my favorite image of the arena will always be the night that Mario Lemiuex came out of retirement and they projected a giant "He's Back!" with the number sixty-six against the dome from the outside while the snow fell in large flakes against the dark night sky. Awesome image. I'd post a pic, but it's late and I can't find one quickly so I'm not wasting too much time.

Before the game, there was a ceremony honoring over 50 former Penguins players, coaches, and GM's. A lot of the guys represented significant periods in Pens history: team's first ever coach, first ever captain, Stanley Cup champs from the '90s, famous lines reunited, etc. After awhile, though, I got the impression they were just throwing a jersey on any former Penguin they could find.

I mean come on. Francois Leroux??

Really, though, it was an awesome, awesome ceremony. If we ever make it to the new theater, I hope we have something kind of like this before our final show at the old one. Bringing back old-school vets from the company, possibly dressed in one of their more memorable roles. Cool idea, yes?