Darren Lowe played only eight games for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Yet, he has some found memories of his time with the team.
“It’s been 23 years since I have been here. It’s nice to be back,” he said. “Just the fact that this is the place where I had the chance to play in the NHL is what makes it special. I am really happy to be back here.”
Lowe, the first black player in Penguins history, appeared in eight games with the Penguins in the 1983-84 season. A winger, he scored one goal and added two assists in his only NHL stint.
|Darren Lowe |
“Sort of the joke is, I was a part of the group that helped them win the Stanley Cup since Mario Lemieux was drafted shortly after I was there,” he said with a laugh. “It was just an opportunity for me to play in the NHL. I wasn’t drafted. I was lucky to play for Canada in the Olympics and that’s how I got the opportunity to play here also. For me, it was just special to have a chance to play in the NHL. It was only a short period of time, but I got to do it and a lot of kids who play hockey, that is what they want to do. So, I was happy to do that and it was great to come back here.”
Following his season with the Penguins, the Toronto native played professionally in Finland and spent time in the AHL and IHL.
Now, he serves as the head coach for the University of Toronto. He has been behind the Varsity Blues bench since 1992-93 when he joined the team as an assistant.
“We all loved the game. If we can stay in the game, that’s special. I was fortunate enough to get my teaching degree and I teach at the university and that’s where I played before I joined the national team, so it was good to go back there. I coach a great group of young men and it’s been a great experience for me,” he said. “Part of it is, we certainly can’t play anymore, so it’s a way to get competitive. Each game is a game for me itself. The guys that I coach – our school is one of the top schools in Canada, if not North America, so we have a lot of bright people. It’s a pleasure to coach them. Real good guys, hard workers and they want to get better. A lot of them dream to play in the NHL and I don’t know how much of a reality that is, but they play hard every day and it’s a great opportunity for me to stay in the game.”
Lowe brought his team to Pittsburgh for a team getaway. The squad watched the Penguins practice Friday and will attend their preseason game against Buffalo at Mellon Arena. In between, the Toronto team conducted on-ice workouts at Robert Morris University’s Island Sports Center.
Not only is he a former Penguin, but Lowe has a connection to Penguins General Manager Ray Shero and Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
“I follow the National Hockey League and I watch the Penguins, especially now that they have a young and exciting team and I have a connection here in that Ray Shero was my agent a long, long time ago,” he said. “My assistant coach’s brother-in-law is Chuck Fletcher, the assistant GM here. There is a connection there and the fact that I was here for a short period of time a long time ago, so I pay attention to how they are doing.
“The people have treated us great. We had a great time here.”
The Toronto players were thrilled to get an up-close look at the Penguins.
“I saw some of the guys hanging over the rail like little kids trying to see some of the guys come out, so I know it’s exciting for them, too,” Lowe said.
Lowe is impressed with the talent the Penguins have acquired
“To see how they have assembled this group of players, it reminds you of the Edmonton Oilers back when they were really young, led by Wayne Gretzky,” he said. “You have Sidney Crosby here and a bunch of other good young players, so it will be interesting to see if they can get to that Stanley Cup and win it. Based on the talent they have, it looks like they could do that, but as we all know, only one team can win and it’s a long road to get there.
“Us in Toronto, having suffered as long as we’ve suffered and to see that an organization is able to rebuild itself pretty quickly, there’s always hope. It’s exciting to watch the young players that they have here. We’d like to see the same thing happen in Toronto with the Maple Leafs because we’re dying for a championship here.”