"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 Johan Hedberg.
Johan Hedberg is currently a goaltender with the New Jersey Devils. The Penguins acquired Hedberg at the 2001 trade deadline along with Bobby Dollas in exchange for Jeff Norton. Originally something of an afterthought when he first came to the Penguins, Hedberg eventually moved ahead of Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Garth Snow by going 7-1-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and .905 save percentage down the stretch. He entered the postseason as the team's unquestioned starter. While wearing his quirky blue "Moose" mask from his days with the Manitoba Moose, Hedberg became an overnight sensation as he led the club on a memorable playoff run to the Eastern Conference final.
Hedberg entered the 2001-02 season as the team's starter. Despite leading the league in losses, he had a fairly solid season by going 25-34-7 with a 2.75 goals against average, .904 save percentage and six shutouts. His shutout total was the second-best single-season mark in franchise history. Hedberg was once again the team's starter in net in 2002-03 but with the team entering a re-building phase, his numbers suffered. He went 14-22-4 with a 3.14 goals against average, .895 save percentage and one shutout.
In the 2003 offseason, following the drafting of Marc-Andre Fleury, Hedberg was traded to the Canucks in exchange for a draft pick. Since then, Hedberg has played for the Canucks, Stars and Thrashers before signing with the Devils earlier this month.
In 116 games with the Penguins, Hedberg went 46-57-12 with a 2.88 goals against average, .901 save percentage and seven shutouts. His shutouts are the fourth-best total in franchise history.
First Memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:
Favorite Memory of Mellon/Civic Arena:
"I remember against Buffalo in Game 6 (of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals), we’re down and got a goal. (Martin) Straka gets a breakaway and wins the game in overtime."
On the "Moose" persona taking off in Mellon/Civic Arena:
"The best memories I have of hockey. A dream come through for myself getting a chance to play in the NHL."
Favorite part of Mellon/Civic Arena:
"This whole building has character. It’s one of the few older ones left. There’s been a lot of great players in here. The shape of the whole building with the skyline. It stands out."
On being a goaltender in Mellon/Civic Arena:
"I like the ice surface and the tight rink. It’s a little tighter than a lot of other rinks. The corners are little square and things happen quick."
(Photos: First and second-Peter Diana/Post-Gazette; Third-Matt Freed/Post-Gazette; fourth-Photobucket)