"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 Dave Hannan.
Dave Hannan is a former Penguins' forward. A 10th round pick of the Penguins in 1981, Hannan parts of eight seasons with the Penguins. After a cup of coffee during a brief call-up which amounted to one game in 1981-82, Hannan appeared in 74 games for the 1982-83 club and recorded 33 points. He would spend the next two seasons bouncing between the NHL roster and the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Baltimore but came back for good in 1985-86 when he appeared in 75 games, contributed a career-high 35 points and led the team with three short-handed goals. Injuries would limit Hannan to 58 games and 25 points in 1986-87.
After appearing in 21 games and collecting seven points in 1987-88, Hannan was involved in one of the biggest trades in franchise history when he was sent to the Oilers along with Craig Simpson, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph for Paul Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp. Hannan would earn a Stanley Cup ring in Edmonton that season but once again found himself back in Pittsburgh the following offseason when the Penguins claimed him through a waiver draft.
Armed with his playoff experience in Edmonton, Hannan appeared in 72 games for the Penguins in 1988-89, scored 30 points and held the franchise reach the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. After recording one assist in eight playoff games, Hannan once again left Pittsburgh when he was claimed by the Maple Leafs in another waiver draft almost exactly one year later.
Hannan would last eight more seasons in the NHL bouncing between the Maple Leafs, Sabres, Avalanche and Senators. After collecting another Stanley Cup ring with Colorado and winning a silver medal for Canada in the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, Hannan retired as a player in the 1997 offseason.
Today Hannan works for Stryker Three Rivers, a Pittsburgh-area company which provides orthopaedics. In 355 games with the Penguins, Hannan recorded 148 points, 52nd-most in franchise history.
(Note: This interview was conducted April 8, the night of the Penguins' final regular season game at Mellon Arena.)
First memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:
"When I got called up my first year playing. I came through the Fort Pitt Tunnels and it was Light Up Night in Pittsburgh. I just thought, ‘Wow, this is unbelievable.’ I got here to the Mellon Arena and came in to meet all the guys like Randy Carlyle, Rod Schutt and Mario Faubert (right). They welcomed me as a rookie."
On his first game at Mellon/Civic Arena:
"My first game was against the Islanders. They had Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin and Billy Smith and all those guys at that time. I think we lost, 4-2. But just the energy of the game and playing in the NHL. And back in those days, we were getting five to seven thousand fans prior to when Mario (Lemieux) came. But the 5,000 fans were like 16,000 fans. All the Pittsburgh fans always are like that. They care about their team and the players that play here. Tonight was such a special night. I walked through the concourse and people congratulated me and said hi. I make my home here now and work here. It’s just a tremendous place."
On the Penguins' improbable wins in Games 3 and 4 of a 1982 preliminary round series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders. The Penguins would nearly pull off an upset, but lost Game 5 in overtime:
"We had them, we had them on the ropes. But the fans came out and you could see the start of how Pittsburgh hockey was going to be. Obviously this was prior to Mario but at the same time, those games were so intense. The Islanders were a big strong team. The guys were focused because the fans got behind them."
Favorite part of Mellon/Civic Arena:
"I think what makes Mellon Arena is the fans. They’re right on top of you. Sidney Crosby had a great quote, ‘You feel like they’re right on top of you.’ You never forget that. You knew when you’re in the game, the fans are right there beside you."
Favorite memories of Mellon/Civic Arena:
"I grew up in this rink as a pro. I played a lot of games here as a pro. The thing is you have those special moments. It’s sort of a sad situation because I grew up here, my kids came to games here. The concerts when we were younger. When we were playing for the Penguins, we came and saw Bruce Springsteen (right). Rod Buskas and I came and we sat on the stage."
What' he'll miss most about Mellon/Civic Arena:
"The security guys that were here, we knew every day. The people who worked the dressing room, the people who worked in the visiting dressing room. They’re just Pittsburghers. It’s awesome because they’re such special people. These people are friendly and they love the Penguins."
(Photos: Hannan first-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette; Hannan second and third an Faubert-Penguins Hockey Cards; Springsteen-Post-Gazette archives)