PITTSBURGH – Having spent more than five years out of the NHL, Ted Nolan walked into the Consol Energy Center, the league’s newest arena, for the first time today.
“It’s beautiful,” the interim Buffalo Sabres coach said this afternoon.
Of course, as a Penguins winger for 18 games in 1985-86, Nolan was familiar with Pittsburgh’s old Civic Arena. “The Igloo,” which closed in 2010, is now a parking lot across the street.
Nolan loves historic arenas.
“The old Olympia, I go back that far,” said Nolan, who also played for the Red Wings. “The Checkerdome in St. Louis. Those are classics. I think that’s what made our game so good is the historical part of it.”
Nolan even has a keepsake from his Penguins days, a poster of the legendary Mario Lemieux.
“I remember a lot,” he said. “I remember sitting down next to Mario. They had a poster night. I asked him to sign it. He asked for who and I said, ‘To me,’ and I still got it at home. It’s ‘To Teddy.’ That’s it. (It’s special) when you have a chance to play with a guy like him and watch him every day in practice.”
Lemieux wasn’t the only superstar Nolan played beside. He was Wayne Gretzky’s junior teammate in Sault Ste. Marie and Steve Yzerman’s teammate in Detroit.