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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The End Of An Era

(The Pittsburgh Civic Auditorium/Arena shortly after/during construction in 1961.)

The Pens play host to the NY Islanders for their season finale at home tonight.  Looking back on this now, it would have seemed more appropriate for the league to schedule this as a "throwback" jersey game against the Canadians but that is why I do what I do and don't work for the NHL.  Why?  This isn't just any "last game" of the year scenario.  If you have paid any attention around here at all, you know that this is the last season for Mellon Arena.  Next year the Pens move to their new digs across the street at the Consol Energy Center.  In celebration of the team and this great building they have played in since 1967, More than 50 former Penguins players and coaches will be on hand. 

One of the featured guests will most certainly be HOFer Andy Bathgate, who scored the first goal in Penguins history in thier inaugural 2-1 loss to Montreal on Oct. 11, 1967.  It was called the Civic Auditorium/Arena back then, named for Pittsburghs Civic Light Opera.  In fact, it was the Civic Arena up until December 1999 when the city entered into a contract to rename the stadium.  I still call it the Igloo and probably always will...just like I sometimes call Heinz Field, Three Rivers; Cellular Field in Chicago is still Comisky; etc., etc. 

Other Pens greats in attendance include: current owner Mario Lemiux, All Star MVP's Syl Apps and Greg Polis, HOFers Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Craig Patrick and Larry Murphy, fan favorites Jean Pronovost, Dave Burrows, Pierre Larouche and Bryan Watson, player/coaches Eddie Olczyk, Rick Kehoe, Ken Schinkel and Gene Ubriaco.  I'm sure there will also be quite a few surprises in store for the fans.

The alums will attend the Penguins’ morning skate on Thursday, then take a tour of the Consol Energy Center construction site in the afternoon.  Thursday also will be Fan Appreciation Night, and current Penguins players will give 20 lucky fans the “Shirts Off Our Backs’ following the game.

My brother scored tickets for this game a few months ago and I have been jealous ever since.  Considering his luck all the time in giveaways and contest, he will probably be one of the 20.  Either way, it is going to be a memorable moment that those in attendance won't soon forget.

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