"Mellon Arena Memories" is a semi-regular feature that will appear in this forum from time to time during the remainder of the Penguins' final season at Mellon Arena. We will attempt to interview several individuals inside and outside of the Penguins about the arena which has served as the franchise's home facility since the its inception. Today's subject is Ty Conklin.
Ty Conklin is currently a goaltender for the St. Louis Blues. He spent one season with the Penguins in 2007-08. He is best remembered for steering the team through two injury-filled months that saw the team surge towards its first division title in over a decade despite playing without the likes of Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot, Gary Roberts and starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Conklin came into the lineup and won his first nine starts, including a snowy, wet one that took place on a football field in Western New York, Jan. 1, 2008. Going 18-8-5 during his one season with the Penguins, Conklin became a cult hero and even drew consideration for the team's MVP award that campaign.
After the team lost to the Red Wings in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Conklin joined Detroit in the offseason, along with a teammate with a slightly higher profile, where he once again, lost the Stanley Cup Finals.
In addition to having been the back up goaltender on three of the past four losing teams in the Stanley Cup Finals, Conklin also owns the distinction of having played in all three of the NHL's regular season outdoor games; The 2003 Heritage Classic with the Oilers, and the Winter Classics in 2008 with the Penguins and in 2009 with the Red Wings.
In addition to the Penguins, Oilers, Red Wings and Blues, Conklin has also played for the Blue Jackets and Sabres during his NHL career.
Overall impression of Mellon/Civic Arena:
I didn’t really think too much about it when I played here the first time or two. But it was a fun place to play. It gets loud in here. Especially during playoff time. All season it’s a loud place to play and it’s a difficult place to play. A lot of that has to do with the quality of team they have. It can be a very intimidating place to play being an opposing player compared to a lot of other rinks. A lot of character in this rink.
Favorite memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:
It was pretty exciting in the playoffs two years ago. Not so much last year. But two years ago, how excited the city got, how excited our team got. While we lost that year, it was a pretty fun thing to be a part of.
Worst memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:
I can think of a bad memory. Game 6 (of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final). You don’t really focus on the bad things.
Worst part of Mellon/Civic Arena:
This is a uh… this is uh… not a good visiting locker room. Mediocre at best. I don’t know if you were here in the Finals, it’s horrible. There’s just so many people.
(Note: Conklin tried to be very diplomatic while describing the visiting locker room.)
Best part of Mellon/Civic Arena:
Like I said it does have character. I like the (home) locker room over there. It’s not really big but it’s cozy. As far as the building goes, it might not be the prettiest building but it’s got a lot of character. It’s a fun place to play.
Life so far with the Blues:
Good. It’s a good group of guys. It’s a fun young team. We’re kind of hovering around .500 but we feel we have things we can work on, things we can improve on. I think we’re all pretty excited.
What has it been like moving from team to team:
That’s an understatement. Sixth team in five years. I’ve figured out how to do it quickly. It’s hockey. There’s always a little break-in period where I get people confident in me. In that way it’s always a little bit exciting.
Bored with playing in outdoor games:
A few of them are fun but it never gets old. That never gets old.
(Photo: Blues-Chris Carlson/Associated Press; Penguins black-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette; Penguins blue-Getty Images)