Frank Pietrangelo first came to Mellon Arena as a goaltender with the Hartford Whalers, remembering that The Igloo isn’t an inviting place to play for visitors because of low lighting everywhere except above the net.
“It’s darker and gloomier. The balconies are right on top of you. It’s intimidating,” Pieterangelo said. “The offensive stars were always there. it’s not one of those rinks coming in and hoping for a 2-1 game. You’re hoping your stats are still intact.”
Pietrangelo has fonder memories of his days playing for the Penguins, where he played a pivotal role in helping the club win its first Stanley Cup championship. He is best remembered for The Save, when Tom Barrasso’s backup made a diving glove save of a Petr Stastny shot into an open net in Game 6 of a first-round series at New Jersey in 1991.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Pietrangelo said. “If you Google my name, first things that comes up. I don’t mind that at all. It’s got a history of its own. It was an important part of Penguins history, the City of Pittsburgh history. If that’s all they remember, at least they remember me for something that’s good.”
Pietrangelo also should be remembered for The Shutout, his 4-0 defeat of the Devils in Game 7. He vividly recalls skating across the ice, fans still cheering, to do an interview with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
“The whole playoff, the whole Stanley Cup run, Mellon Arena was just rocking,” Pietrangelo said. “It was the first the Penguins had ever been on a playoff run like that to the Stanley Cup Final. There was signage up and down the main streets. (Mike Lange’s call) ‘Elvis has left the building,’ that’s something to remember, that’s for sure.”
Pietrangelo hopes that the Penguins don’t lose “that attachment, that closeness to the players” that makes Mellon Arena special (and loud) when they move across Centre Avenue to Consol Energy Center next season.
Not that Pietrangelo expects opponents to complain.
“When I came in as a visitor, I almost threw up in the dressing room,” he said. “I don’t think any visiting teams are going to be disappointed. Some of these new visiting dressing rooms are like banquet halls.
“It’s the last of dying breeds. These new arenas are beautiful and hold a lot of people, but you lose a lot of the history and the chemistry with the fans. You look at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia. We had that jinx. You lose that when you go into a new building.
“I hope that’s not going to be the case with the Penguins.”