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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Voice Of The Pens Arena Passes

This morning I learned of a second Pittsburgh sports related death in a week.  The signature sound for Penguin home games has been silenced. John Barbero, 30+ year veteran PA announcer at the Civic/Mellon Arena, died Monday of complications from a brain tumor. He had been diagnosed with Astrocytoma in February 2009 but finished the season calling the Game 6 win over Detroit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

John began announcing Pens games back in 1972 and sat in that position until his sickness forced him into retirement. While working for the Penguins organization, he also served as principal at Waynesburg High School from 1976-2004. In all that time, he only missed the call of five games, when a child was born and a few field trips and school events. 

"He had the ability to tingle your spine with post-goal announcements, and that will live with Penguins fans forever," Hockey HOF announcer Mike Lange said.

Barbero's voice became iconic after the team drafted Mario Lemieux in 1984.  To perfect his sound, Barbero played around with different pronounciations of players names.  While practicing in the shower, he found one that stuck.  It soon became customary for every fan to shout along...

'The Pittsburgh goal. Scored by No. 66. Mario Lemieuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuux...'

He did that with everyone's name. It was awesome and gave me chills everytime I heard it.

He was such an integral part of the team that Mario ordered an official Stanley Cup championship ring for Barbero, despite not being a team employee.  He will also be a part of the Penguins history display in the new Consol Energy Center.

RIP, John.  You will be dearly missed.

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