For the past 43 years, Mellon Arena has been the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
For some, it has been home, a place for celebration, despair, fights, and tears.
I have arranged, in chronological order, 20 unforgettable moments at Mellon Arena. Just a taste of the many memories we as fans were lucky enough to experience.
As the life clock on this aged Pittsburgh landmark continues to tick, the future of the arena remains uncertain. Will it be torn down? Renovated?
While the arena is old and out-dated, its physical presence could never represent how much this place means to the people of Pittsburgh, especially Penguins fans.
So as we move on to a bigger and better arena across the street, I want to give one final salute to the place that will always be dear to the hearts of Penguins fans.
The place where we were able to witness Mario Lemieux's heroics, Jaromir Jagr's finesse, and Sidney Crosby's and Evgeni Malkin's rise to super stardom.
It has always been a great day for hockey at Mellon Arena.
*I credit all videos in this slideshow to their rightful owners.
December 31, 1988
Lemieux was a fantastic player. No kidding, right?
But even this feat seemed to be one of myths.
He scored a goal every way possible in a hockey game: even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot, and empty netter.
Ironically enough, this was a game where "Lemieux needed a big game."
Did he ever deliver.
If you expect something like this to happen again, dream on.
April 25, 1989
Definitely an interesting and puzzling moment in the Penguins/Flyers rivalry. This one took place in Game Five of the Division Semi-Finals.
Coming down the ice on a two-on-one, Robbie Brown netted a pass from Lemieux.
The goal made the score 7-2 in favor of Pittsburgh.
Like any hockey player, Brown let the celebration roll, but it was short lived when he realized the aggressive Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was bulldozing after him, clearly not happy with the celebration.
The Pens would win the game with the stunning score of 10-7, capped off with Lemieux's seven-point night.
But Hextall's hissy fit after Brown's goal was just an added bonus on top of a night of weak goaltending.
What was he thinking? We'll never know.
January 21, 1990
For the first and only time, Mellon (then called Civic) Arena hosted the NHL All Star Tournament.
Two players from the Pens represented the home crowd: Lemieux and Paul Coffey.
Coffey put up two assists, but Lemieux completely stole the show.
By the end of the first period, he netted a hat trick. Enough said.
Lemieux lead the Wales Division to victory over the Campbell Division, beating them by a score of 12-7. He had four goals by the end of the night as well as the title All Star MVP, his third time capturing the title.
May 17, 1991
The Pens were in the midst of their first Stanley Cup Final appearance, losing Game One to Minnesota when some magic took place during Game Two.
This goal by Lemieux was just one of the many examples of his soft hands and his pure skill. His ability to deke opponents was unmatched and it was no different that night.
A one-on-two rush quickly becomes a one-on-one with goalie Jon Casey whose jock is probably still hanging somewhere in the rafters.
And Mario's celebration wasn't too shabby either.
May 9, 1992
With both Lemieux and Joey Mullen out because of injury, the Pens, down 2-1 in the Division Finals against the New York Rangers, had to pull together in Game Four to risk being put on the brink of elimination.
This would be no easy feat against the Rangers who finished number one in the league in points at the end of the season.
You could say Ron Francis was the glue keeping the Pens from falling apart.
After overcoming 2-0 and 3-1 deficits, all seemed lost when Mark Messier made it 4-2 in the first minute of the third period. To make matters worse, the Pens would have to kill a five minute major penalty with 15 minutes left in the game.
After successfully killing the penalty, Francis sprinted down center ice and lasered a shot from the blue line into the back of the net for his second of the game.
The Pens weren't dead yet.
They eventually tied the game and sent it into overtime where Francis scored the game winner on the power play with an unbelievable, through-the-legs deflection.
May 26, 1992
While Lemieux was making his name as the one man show, Jagr was doing his own thrilling act.
In the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, the Pens were given the opportunity to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. However, the Chicago Blackhawks had another plan when they jumped to a 4-1 lead in Game One.
But the Pens staged a comeback.
Rick Tocchet and Phil Bourque put the Pens within one when Jagr scored what Lemieux called the best goal he ever saw.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Jagr dipsy-doodled around two Blackhawks, maneuvered around another, and placed the puck in Ed Belfour's five hole.
It was an unbelievable display of individual talent that kept the Pens' hopes alive.
And game wasn't over just yet.
May 26, 1992
We definitely didn't have to be there to believe it.
Easily one of Mike Lange's best goal calls ever, I still get chills when I hear Lange make the call.
With 17.2 seconds remaining in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, the score was tied but the Pens didn't want this one going into overtime.
The Pens won a faceoff in the offensive zone, the puck dropping to Larry Murphy who took his shot which was stopped by Belfour only he kicked out a juicy rebound.
Who else but Lemieux would be there to bury the garbage?
The eventual game-winner practically sent the roof of the Civic Arena down to the ice.
April 23, 1997
It didn't seem possible.
After many battles with illnesses and injuries, Lemieux was hanging up his skates at the end of the season.
The Pens met the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, but the Flyers quickly took charge of the series winning the first three games.
In Game Four, however, Lemieux gave the Civic Arena something to cheer about.
The Pens were up 3-1 with just over a minute left in the game. Suddenly, Lemieux found a break in the defense and sprinted up ice for a breakaway.
The crowd exploded when the puck crossed the goal line and they didn't stop for minutes after.
It was a bittersweet memory for the city of Pittsburgh, but there was no better way for Lemieux to leave the NHL (for his first retirement, that is), than scoring on a breakaway.
May 2, 1999
The Pens entered the playoffs as the eighth seed, pairing up against top-seeded New Jersey for the first round.
Eighth-seeded upsets over the first seed seem improbable, especially when Jagr had been sidelined for four games with a nagging groin injury.
Nevertheless, he returned for Game Six with the Pens on the brink of elimination and played the game of his life alongside Martin Straka.
The Devils were up 2-1 with just over two minutes remaining in the game when German Titov, threw a bouncing puck on net, allowing Jagr to chop it between Martin Brodeur's pads to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Not even halfway through the first overtime period, Martin Straka, who scored the Pens' first goal of the game, collected a pass from the blue line, maneuvered around Scott Neidermayer, and found Jagr who placed the puck over a sprawling Brodeur to force Game Seven.
May 4-5, 2000
Game Four of the Conference Semi-Final against the Flyers will be one to remember not because of the actual game, but because of how long it lasted.
Five overtimes. 152 minutes and one second of hockey to become the third longest hockey game in the NHL.
For those who love hockey, this was one of the games to watch. Unfortunately for the Pens fans, this one ended in Philadelphia's favor.
12 minutes into the fifth overtime, Keith Primeau put a wrister passed Pens goalie Ron Tugnutt, the goal coming at 2:35am.
December 27, 2000
This memory needs no explanation.
After battling and beating cancer, struggling with herniated discs and other nagging injuries that forced him into retirement, Lemieux wanted more.
And Pittsburgh couldn't have been more thrilled.
Lemieux made an emotional second debut in the NHL against the Toronto Maple Leafs, skating around the ice as his son, Austin, watched from behind the goal.
Lemieux mentioned how proud he was that his son would be able to see him play.
The Pens went up 2-0 in the game, but halfway through the second period, Jagr skated down the ice and found Lemieux who didn't hesitate in putting it in the back of the net.
It was so reminiscent of the old days. The crowd, of course, was electric.
Mario was truly back.
October 8, 2005
It was a new era of hockey and Pittsburgh had the privilege of signing an incredibly talented draft pick in Sidney Crosby.
So much rode on the 18-year-old's shoulders. Not only was he meant to save the faltering Pittsburgh Penguins organization, but he was also given the title "the Face of the NHL."
The Pens played the Boston Bruins in their third game of the season and Crosby hadn't scored a goal yet. But what better time to get your first NHL goal than during the home opener?
In the closing minutes of second with the score 5-4 in favor of Pittsburgh, a scuffle in front of Boston's net allowed Crosby to get his first...and a monkey off his back.
It wasn't pretty and it didn't take a huge amount of skill, but to the Pens fans, it was a sign of many good things to come.
October 24, 2006
Other than Evgeni Malkin's no-look, backhanded goal in Game Two of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, this was his prettiest goal.
Up 3-2 halfway through the third period, Malkin collected a long pass from Crosby at the blue line and completely befuddled two Devils defensemen before using a Lemieux-esque deke to beat Brodeur.
It was just a few weeks into the season and everyone knew that stealing Malkin away from Magnitogorsk was well worth the hassle.
Especially since the magic that brewed when 87 and 71 were on the ice together was nothing short of a spectacular show.
March 13, 2007
Times were not good for Pittsburgh, despite the young talents of Crosby, Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Brooks Orpik.
Rumors of Pens being sold poisoned the air, even though everyone seemed hopeful with Lemieux as owner of the team. Unfortunately, with poor ticket sales, a declaration of bankruptcy, and an aging arena, nothing seemed to be working for the Pens and all fingers pointed to the West.
But as always, Lemieux worked his magic and deal was made to build the Consol Energy Center across the street from Mellon Arena. The Pens were guaranteed to stay in Pittsburgh for at least 30 years.
The news of the deal had leaked before a public announcement could be made, but that didn't stop Lemieux from addressing a sold-out Mellon Arena crowd that the Pens would remain in Pittsburgh.
His efforts to fight for this team and city are what have made Lemieux's name synonymous with Pittsburgh (as noted in the video below) and there isn't a child that will grow-up in this city who will not know his name.
May 9, 2008
A slap shot never felt so good.
While there always was a rivalry between the Pens and Flyers, it was reignited when the Philly faithful found their love of hating Crosby.
So their first meeting in the playoffs in the new NHL era was definitely a must-see series, especially when the winner would play for the Stanley Cup.
Up until that point, the Pens had only lost one game in the playoffs against the New York Rangers and they didn't feel like losing another one yet.
The Pens were fired up in Game One, despite allowing the Flyers to take a 2-1 lead. But the Pens fought back to take the lead with a Malkin goal.
As with any Pens and Flyers game, bodies were being knocked all over the place, most notably a huge hit on Malkin from Mike Richards during a Flyers power play that sent Malkin into the boards behind Flyers goalie Martin Biron.
Malkin was slow to get up and barely crossed the blue line when Marian Hossa and Sergei Gonchar forced a turnover and sent the puck to Malkin who was all alone.
As cool as ice, Malkin coasted toward Biron and fired his biggest slapshot of his NHL career into the back of the net.
Especially after taking that huge hit from Richards, if this play isn't Malkin's way of saying "eff you" to the Flyers, I don't know what is.
Start video at 6:25.
May 28, 2008
The last time the Pens played in the Stanley Cup Final, they were prancing around the ice with the Stanley Cup at Chicago Stadium after a sweep of the Blackhawks in 1992.
But 16 years later, the Pens found themselves in a two games to nothing hole against the Detroit Red Wings.
The best solution was sending the series back to Pittsburgh where the Pens remained unbeaten on their home ice.
The Pens took it to the Red Wings, scoring their first goals of the series to make the score 3-1.
But with 10 minutes left in the game, the Pens were feeling the energy of the crowd which sent defenseman Orpik into a physical frenzy.
In 15 seconds, he laid out four powerful hits to the amazement and enjoyment of the home crowd.
It was one of the best displays of physicality in one shift they had ever seen.
June 4, 2009
It was the goal that was heard around the NHL world.
Just two years ago, the Pens entered Game Four of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final having lost their first two games at Detroit but taking Game Three at Mellon Arena. They went on to lose Game Four and Detroit won the Cup in six.
A year later, the same story emerged.
The Pens lost the first two games in Detroit and won Game Three in Pittsburgh. But Game Four would be a completely different story this time around.
Malkin netted the first of the game but Detroit came back quickly with two goals by the beginning of the second period.
The Pens started to look frustrated as they took bad penalties, one after another. Sick of being on the defensive, Malkin made a mad dash with the puck after a Red Wings turnover, almost scoring on the ensuing breakaway.
Pens fans were exasperated when the Wings continued on with the power play, but that momentum was all that was needed for Staal to make his mark in the playoffs.
Less than a minute after Malkin's failed attempt, Staal used his body to power passed Brian Rafalski and muster a shot on net. It wasn't strong, but goalie Chris Osgood wasn't expecting it which is why it went in to tie the game at two.
Many analysts attribute Staal's goal as the turnaround moment in the series for the Pens. I believe it; a shorthanded goal against a fiercely successful Detroit power play couldn't have given the Pens a bigger confidence boost.
October 4, 1991
October 6, 1992
October 2, 2009
The Pens have had the honor and privilege of raising three Stanley Cup banners in the history of their franchise.
I was only a few years old when the first two went up into the rafters of Mellon Arena, but watching the banner rise at the start of the 2009-2010 season is a moment that I know will stick with me the rest of my life.
It was a time to remember and appreciate what transpired the season before, the hardships that were overcome, and the class and sportsmanship that shone throughout the process.
Most importantly, it was a time to realize just how special this franchise is and how lucky we are, as Pens fans, to be in this position, raising a banner in the last season of Mellon Arena with a new arena growing every day on the other side of the road.
And of course, knowing and remembering the talent that skated and currently skate with the Penguins logo on their chest.
November 14, 2009
After October was so kind to the Pens in giving them an 11-3 start to the season, November did not fare as well.
The Pens managed to beat the Anaheim Ducks, but proceeded to lose the next four games, only scoring a total of three goals in that time.
Their next game against the Boston Bruins proved to be a high scoring match. The Pens and Bruins swapped goals like a tennis match until the Bruins seemed to have the Pens beat after scoring two consecutive goals in the third to take a 5-4 lead.
With Fleury pulled, the Pens staged their last attempt to snap out of their losing streak, but with 10 seconds remaining in the game and both teams fighting for the puck in the corner of the Pens' zone, it didn't look like it would happen.
The puck was finally freed and by chance, Bruins defenseman Patrice Bergeron's stick broke when he attempted to clear the puck and seal away the game in his team's favor.
What resulted was a three-on-two with seven seconds remaining.
Malkin had Crosby and Bill Guerin with him in the final rush. He sent a perfect pass to Guerin's stick who wasted no time ripping a shot by goalie Tim Thomas and off the post to tie the game with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
On top of the excitement brought out with that kind of a dramatic goal, Pittsburgh breathed a sigh of relief.
April 8, 2010
The last home games of the regular season are always a time of celebration, but this season's last season game held so much more meaning because it would be Mellon Arena's last.
What the organization planned was a special tribute to members of the Pittsburgh Penguins, both past and present.
Past players and members of the staff donned their jerseys and walked out on the ice as their names were announced by play-by-play announcers Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald.
Fans were given the chance to see famous faces like 1980 Olympic star Mark Johnson, son of the Pens' late coach Badger Bob Johnson, and Jean Pronovost, a prolific scorer of his time.
They also were reintroduced to players who held so much team history like Andy Bathgate, the scorer of the first ever Penguins goal.
And then there were the players who were a part of the two championship teams like Bob Errey, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Phil Bourque, Rick Tocchet, and Bryan Trottier to name a few.
Of course, you can't forget Mario Lemieux who obviously received the loudest applause of them all.
It was a Penguins reunion for the ages and yet another reminder of the talent that passed under the aged roof of Mellon Arena.
That night, Elvis truly left the building.