"Mellon Arena Memories" is a feature will will appear on a daily basis in this forum until July 30, when the Penguins will officially leave the only facility they have known as their home arena since the franchise was formed in 1967. Today's subject is Ken Schinkel.
Schinkel is a former all-star forward with the Penguins as well as a former coach and member of the team's front office. Claimed by the Penguins in the 1967 expansion draft from the Rangers, Schinkel was one of the team's early stars and spent parts of six seasons as a player in Pittsburgh. He appeared in 57 games for the Penguins during their inaugural season, scored 39 points and became the first player in franchise history to be selected to an all-star game. The next season, Schinkel appeared in 76 games, recorded a team-leading 52 points and one again played in the all-star game. In 1969-70, Schinkel saw action in 72 games, scored 45 points and helped the team reach the postseason for the first time. He also scored the first postseason hat trick in Penguins history when he netted three goals against the Oakland Seals in Game 3 of a quarterfinal series in 1970. Schinkel was limited to 50 games and 34 points in 1970-71 but rebounded in 1971-72 when he played in 74 games and netted 45 points.
After scoring 21 points in 42 games in 1972-73, Schinkel retired as a player Jan. 13 and replaced Red Kelly as head coach at age 40. Under Schinkel, the team had a 15-18-3 record and missed the postseason. The following season, Schinkel coached the team for 50 games and had a record of 14-31-5 before being replaced by Marc Boileau, Feb. 6, 1974. Schinkel assumed a front office position with the team and stayed in that position until he himself replaced Boileau, Jan. 17, 1976. Under Schinkel, the Penguins had a record of 20-10-7 and reached the postseason where they fell to the Maple Leafs in a preliminary round series, 2-1. Schinkel's only full season as the team's coach was 1976-77. The team went 34-33-13 and qualified for the postseason where it once again lost to the Maple Leafs in a preliminary round, 2-0. Schinkel was replaced by Johnny Wilson in the following offseason. Schinkel again took a front office position and remained with the team until 1989.
In 371 games with the Penguins as a player, "Schink" scored 236 points, 31st most in franchise history. As a coach, Schinkel compiled a record of 83-92-28.
His first memories of Mellon Arena:
"I was able to play here when I first came here in the (AHL). When I came here in the (NHL), that’s what I really remember. Coming into it for the first time in the NHL with the (1967) expansion. At that time, there was only 13,000 seats and it just looked like a monster stadium then with the heights of the ceiling and everything thing else."
Does he remember the team's first game:
"Not really. I probably was so pumped up at the time. I know with the expansion, we were going to be in a tough battle right down to the wire. We were going to have to battle every night."
On scoring a hat trick in a 4-2 defeat of the Blackhawks, Oct. 21, 1967, while defending superstar Bobby Hull. It was the first win by an expansion team against one of the "Original" Six franchises:
"That’s probably one of my highlights of being here was scoring that hat trick. I think he scored two for them if I’m not mistaken. Having played against him and ending up with a hat trick, that to me was a really a great accomplishment. Supposed to be a defensive type player and ending getting a hat trick checking Hull."
On losing Game 7 of the 1975 quarterfinals against the Islanders, 1-0, after leading the series, 3-0:
"Yeah it is, it eats your craw boy I tell you. You’re up 3-0 and you end up losing the series 4-3, you just have to win one more. They were the ones lucky enough to win the game, 1-0. Just one of those games and breaks in the game that make the difference."
What he'll miss about Mellon/Civic Arena:
"Yeah, I think just being able to walk up that hill and looking at the city from up here. I don’t know what they plan on doing with (Mellon Arena), but it’s a landmark as far as I’m concerned."
(Photos: Penguins Hockey Cards)