There were many dramatic and memorable moments from the Penguins 2010-11 season. But the most prominent – yet understated – aspect of the events wasn’t what happened, but rather where it happened.
The Penguins 2010-11 campaign marked the inaugural season for the team’s brand-new, state-of-the-art arena – CONSOL Energy Center. The beautiful new home of the Penguins had been a 12-year project in the making that guaranteed the team’s long-term viability in the city of Pittsburgh.
The new arena became an instant hit with fans for its many amenities, sightlines and fan-friendly activities from its first ever event – a Paul McCartney concert – to its final NHL postseason contest.
And everything in-between provided some of the most exciting and breathtaking moments of the season. Here’s a quick look back:
- New arena groundbreaking (August 14, 2008)
- Penguins take control of CONSOL Energy Center (August 2, 2010)
- First event, Paul McCartney concert (August 18, 2010)
- First NHL contest, 5-1 preseason win over Detroit (September 22, 2010)
- Ultimate Fan Game, 3-1 win over Columbus (September 25, 2010)
- First NHL regular-season contest, 3-2 setback to Philadelphia (October. 7, 2010)
- First NHL victory, 3-2 over NY Islanders in overtime (October 15, 2010)
- Start of 12-game winning streak (and 9-game home winning streak) with 5-1 win vs. Tampa Bay (Nov. 12, 2010)
- Crosby records back-to-back home hat tricks (Nov. 27 and Dec. 2, 2010)
- Brent Johnson keeps Islanders scoreless while landing a KO punch (Feb. 2, 2011)
- Penguins win, 3-0 vs. Tampa Bay, in first-ever playoff game (April 13, 2011)
All in all, the Penguins sold out all 40 regular-season games (one “home” game was played at Heinz Field) and all four postseason contests. Pittsburgh finished the season with a 25-13-2 record at CONSOL Energy Center, the third-most home wins in the NHL (Vancouver, 27; Anaheim, 26).
But the most unforgettable moment was the festivities and ceremonies surrounding the grand opening of the new barn on Oct. 7, 2010.
That morning Penguins CEO/President David Morehouse, GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma passed out donuts to the hundreds of students waiting outside the arena for tickets. The pregame atmosphere was set with a red carpet entrance for players and coaches and a big screen outside for people to catch all the action from the street.
Then, of course, was the on-ice opening. A video showed the end of Mellon Arena and machines that captured the melted ice for water.
Fade to black.
Cue spotlight at center ice revealing none other than Hall of Famer and owner Mario Lemieux. After a deafening and thunderous ovation, Lemieux opened a bottle of melted Mellon Arena ice and poured it onto the center dot at CONSOL Energy Center.
After the puck dropped, the Penguins battled their inter-state rival Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers Danny Briere scored the first goal in the new building 2:51 into the second period on a power play. The first Pittsburgh goal came 44 seconds into the third period from Tyler Kennedy
Although the Penguins lost the battle, 3-2, that didn’t diminish their overall victory triumph. The real story of the night was the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. CONSOL Energy Center was a victory for team management, players, the city of Pittsburgh, the region and most of all, the fans.
And thus began a new era of Penguins hockey.
For a look back at all the highlights from CONSOL Energy Center's grand opening, check out: