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Mellon Arena Memories - Rob Brown - 07-23-10

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 Rob Brown.


Rob Brown is a former all-star right-winger with the Penguins. A fourth-round pick of the club in 1986, he spent parts of seven seasons in Pittsburgh during two different stints.

As a rookie in 1987-88, Brown appeared in 51 games for the Penguins. Teamed partially will Mario Lemieux, Brown contributed 24 goals and 44 points overall. His second season in the NHL was by far the best of his career. In 68 games, he was able to punch in 49 goals and 115 points while being selected the only all-star game of his career. Brown helped the team qualify for the playoffs for the first time in seven years. In the postseason, Brown appeared in all 11 of the Penguins' games and racked up eight points.

In 1989-90, Brown played in all 80 of the team's games and scored just as many points. After scoring only 16 points in 25 games during the 1990-91 season as Lemieux recovered from an ailing back, Brown was traded to the Whalers in exchange for Scott Young.

After bouncing around with the Whalers, Blackhawks, Stars and Kings, Brown spent the entire 1996-97 season with the Chicago Wolves of the IHL.

Brown made a comeback to the NHL and the Penguins after he re-signed with the team just prior to to the 1997-98 season. In 82 games that campaign, Brown contributed 40 points. In 1998-99, Brown played in 58 games while scoring 24 points. In that spring's postseason, he pitched in seven points in 13 games and helped the Penguins pull off one of the largest upsets in franchise history. Despite playing much of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal round without the services of captain Jaromir Jagr, the eighth-seeded Penguins were able to knock off the No. 1 Devils in seven games.

Brown's final season in the NHL was 1999-2000. He saw action in 50 games and scored 23 points. The club opted not to re-sign him in the offseason. He returned to the Chicago Wolves and spent three seasons with that club until he retired as a player in 2003.

A master of playing near the net, particularly on the power play, Brown is currently a television and radio broadcaster with the Oilers. In 414 games with the Penguins, Brown scored 342 points, 18th-most in franchise history.


First memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:

"My first memory is walking out the hallway to the ice. As a kid growing up in Canada, my goal was to play in the NHL. The first time I walked with a Penguins jersey on down the hallway coming out and seeing the fans, hearing the fans and hearing the building shake, to me that gives you chills. My first impression of playing in the (NHL) was coming out and just seeing a packed house."

His first game at Mellon/Civic Arena:

"My first game was against the New Jersey Devils and I scored two goals. I was living a dream playing in the (NHL) but to score in my first game… it was everything I had hoped for. The excitement and the celebration and having the fans cheer. It was like a rush. You didn’t want it to end. I was pretty lucky. I played with Mario (Lemieux) in my first game and he put me in on a breakaway. I was like, 'I could get used to this.'"

Rob or Robbie:

"This is the only place in the world where I’m known as 'Robbie.' I’ll get a phone call. If they ask for ‘Robbie,’ it’s someone from Pittsburgh."

On being chased by Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall after scoring a goal in Game 5 of the 1989 Patrick Division Final:

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"I think I’m in Penguins lore because of Hextall chasing me around the ice. I scored the ninth goal of the game. He obviously wasn’t having a good night. Back then, I always used to celebrate after every goal. It was 9-2 and if I was about to celebrate, Hextall was going to me sure he got his piece of me. I was in the corner and Dan Quinn was coming in to give me a high-five and I could just see Hextall behind him. I just remember skating up the boards with my head turned back hoping someone would grab the crazy goalie."

On his first game back with the Penguins after being traded to the Whalers:

"It was weird. I didn't know what was going to happen. I was with Hartford and I still had a lot of friends on the team. I scored the first game back and there was a mixture. There were cheers but there were boos. I was like, ‘This is my town, you can boo me here.’"

On his comeback to the NHL:

"The biggest thing for me was when I made a comeback years later and made it back here in Pittsburgh, the reaction from the fans I got then was amazing. I think I was even more appreciative then of how lucky I was to play in a city like this and to be treated as well as I was."

His least favorite thing about Mellon/Civic Arena:

"Oh… The visiting room was awful. My nine-year-old kid plays house-league hockey in better dressing rooms. I was in a fantasy camp here last year for the Penguins and we dressed in the visitors room and I forgot how bad it was. It’s almost like they have four walls, hung up a few hangers on the cement and called it a dressing room. It is awful… awful."

His favorite part of Mellon/Civic Arena:

"Nothing physical, just memories. When I walk in here, it’s not a certain memory, but just the feeling you get walking into it because you knew good things happened here. And when I walk in here, it’s just a whole flash of things going through my head. All the fun times I had. My best part of my career happened here in Pittsburgh and it was in this arena. The fans and the noise and right now, I can just look around and I can see the fans and the feeling of the fans at playoff time."

On his famous "windmill" celebration:

"Honestly, I don’t even know. I think I did it the first goal I scored and I saw the reaction I got from the fans and I kept doing it. It got to the point where I’m like, ‘I got to quit doing this, I look silly.’ But I couldn’t. It just stayed. But I left here and I stopped doing it. I came back and my first game back, I scored a goal and Darius Kasparaitis said, ‘Do the windmill.’ I said, ‘I can’t, I can’t.’ So I got a star that night, and he said, “You got to do it.’ He waited in the hallway for me to go out there. So I came out, I was on the ice and I did the windmill for the very last time. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know why it started but it became a part of me. Scoring a goal in the NHL was pretty cool."

(Photos: First-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette; Second-Lake Fong-Post-Gazette; Third, fourth, fifth and sixth-Penguins Hockey Cards)

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