Monday, May 26, 2008

Blue-collar tough, hometown proud

Ryan Malone is the only Pittsburgh native to be drafted by and play for the Penguins.

PITTSBURGH -- When Ryan Malone looks up at the worn, empty seats at Mellon Arena, he doesn't see an aging hockey mausoleum, but rather something more comforting, something more closely akin to home.

Up there, near the private boxes, is where Malone and his younger brother Mark played hide-and-seek. Beyond the boxes was where they rollerbladed while their father, Greg, worked in the offices beneath the stands as the director of amateur scouting.

Out of sight, in the Penguins dressing room, is where NHL players quizzed the young Malone boys on how many pieces of gum they could cram in their mouth at the same time.

Just a few feet away, where the ice surface is now quiet and clean, is where Ryan, Mark and Greg played shinny with the kids of Pittsburgh icons such as Craig Patrick and Ed Johnston after Penguins practices.

"I can remember taking the diaper bag and taking them to the rink," Greg Malone recently told

Many pro hockey players move in a straight line -- a dominating star in some small town, moving steadily forward to bigger and

Ryan Malone is the only Pittsburgh native to be drafted by and play for the Penguins.

Greg Malone

Greg Malone

Ryan Malone wears No. 12 in honor of his father, Greg, who played for the Penguins from 1976-83.

Greg Malone hails another blue-collar town, the Miramichi area of New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada. He was drafted by the Penguins (19th overall) in the 1976 draft and played 704 NHL games and scored a career-high 35 goals in 1978-79.

By Scott Burnside


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