So long, Mellon Arena
“This new building is just unbelievable. Even our visiting dressing room is amazing. There’s nothing like this anywhere in the league,” marveled Tom Pyatt. “We obviously have some pretty awesome memories of Mellon Arena from the playoffs and winning that Game 7 there, but now we’ll just have make some new ones starting this weekend.”
While Pyatt was accurate in his assessment of the exquisite visitors room, his limited exposure to its predecessor as an NHL sophomore might explain his limited loathing of Mellon Arena. His veteran teammates might want to verse him in the ways of the NHL’s formerly-oldest arena.
“I played there a lot in my career and I have some good memories, but the showers and bathrooms were just the worst,” recalled Brian Gionta with a laugh, of the medieval facilities at the Penguins’ former home. “You almost didn’t feel like you were quite getting the job done in there!”
The Civic Arena as it was originally called when it opened it’s doors back in 1961, served as the home of the Penguins upon their joining the NHL in 1967-68 as an expansion team. The Igloo, as it would become known, served as the stage for Mario Lemieux to take the franchise on his back and lead them to back-to-back Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, before Sidney Crosby would do the same in 2009.
With all that history, one would think the one Habs player who should have his heartstrings pulled right now would be former Pens blue-liner Hal Gill, right? Think again.
“I really don’t miss it and I won’t miss playing there. I hate to say that because I have some really great memories of that building,” admitted Gill, who won the Cup as a member of that Penguins squad two years ago. “It was an old building and it was time to move on. I’m a big believer that things change and times change.”
Gill’s lack of attachment to the building he called home for parts of two seasons could be linked to an unwanted encounter he had in the Pens’ dressing room one day.
“I remember finding a cockroach in my sock this one time, but I never saw any rats,” laughed Gill. “There was no vermin or anything like that to report.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
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