Mellon Arena Memories - Syl Apps, Jr. - 07-20-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

"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 Syl Apps, Jr.

Apps is a former all-star forward for the Penguins. He was acquired in one of the most lopsided trades in franchise history when the Penguins traded mucker and grinder Glen Sather to the Rangers in exchange for Apps and Sheldon Kannegiesser midway through the 1970-71 season. Sather would last parts of four non-descript seasons in New York while Apps would become one of the team's most prolific players.

Following the trade, Apps produced a respectable 25 points in 31 games for the Penguins. The 1971-72 season was his first full campaign with the team and Apps began to show his scoring ability as he netted a team-leading 59 points in 72 games. His 44 assists were a team record at the time.

In 1972-73, coach Red Kelly began to team Apps on a line with Jean Pronovost and Lowell MacDonald who had missed most of the previous season due to a serious knee injury. This trio would form the Century Line (or the Bicentential Line as it came to be known as in 1976), arguably the best line in franchise history. Apps would establish a new career-high as well as a franchise record in points (85) while MacDonald rebounded from his injury with 34 goals and 75 points. Pronovost contributed 21 goals and 43 points. The following season, Apps would once again lead the team in scoring with 85 points while MacDonald (82) and Pronovost (73) finished second and third.

Apps' would take a small step back in terms of production during 1974-75 as he "only" had in 79 points in 79 games, but he was selected to his only All-Star Game appearance that winter. A two-goal effort in that game would garner him MVP honors. Pronovost followed that up with his finest season as an NHLer in 1975-76 when he scored a career-high 99 points in 80 games. His 67 assists would once again establish a new franchise mark. The Century Line would also make some history when Pronovost became the first player in franchise history to reach the 50-goal mark during a 5-5 home tie against the Bruins. Naturally, MacDonald and Apps had the assists.

The 1976-77 campaign would see Apps' numbers tumble. With MacDonald limited to only three games that season, Apps recorded 61 points in 72 games. It was the first time in four seasons he failed to average a point per game. The following season, after seven assists in nine games, Apps was traded to the Kings along with Hartland Monahan in exchange for Dave Schultz, Gene Carr and a draft pick.

Apps, the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Syl Apps, Sr. and father of Canadian women's Olympic hockey team member Gillian Apps, retired as a player following the 1979-80 season. Inducted into the Penguins' hall of fame in 1994, Apps played in 495 games with the team and scored 500 points (151 goals, 349 assists), seventh-most in franchise history. He was the team's single-season scoring leader three times. Only Mario Lemieux (10) and Jaromir Jagr (six) have accomplished that feat more often.

First memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:

"My first memory was when I was traded. I came in had no real expectations. Didn’t know where I was coming to or what the team was like. Red Kelly gave me an opportunity to play. That first game, getting a goal and an assist. Made a good first impression. I thank the organization for that. Such a great town. Great fans. Great sports town."

On the Century Line:

"Playing with that line with Lowell and “Prony” for a number of years and when “Prony” got his 50th goal, that was kind of special. When someone get 50 goals, that’s a product of a line. We were very proud of that moment. It was his goal but we shared in it. That was special."

On losing Game 7 of the 1975 quarterfinal series to the Islanders after leading the playoff round, 3-0:

"It’s hard. They delayed a game for a concert and our organization sort of agreed to it and the momentum started to shift. The last game was a one-goal game with Eddie Westfall scoring the goal. I think if you asked the Islanders how did that momentum shift, they would be just as puzzled."

On coming back to Mellon/Civic Arena with the Kings as a visitor for the first time in a 5-3 Kings victory, Dec. 8, 1977:

"We came back here with (Los Angeles). The first game back in here after getting traded, I was lucky to have a good game back. A point or two. I think when you coming back, you always want to sort to prove a point."

Note: Apps had a goal and two assists.

On the franchise leaving Mellon/Civic Arena:

"The building is really the fans. The fans create the building, not the other way around. So all you’re doing now is giving this same group of people a little better venue. It’s going to be the same excitement but it’s going to be a little better. So you’re sort of sad to see it leave, it’s going to be different but it’s still going to be an exciting to see a hockey game."

(Photos: First, second and third-Penguins Hockey Cards; Fourth-Post-Gazette archives)

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