Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux will return to the ice – this time in the unique and majestic setting of the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field – as the Pittsburgh Penguins alumni team takes on Peter Bondra and the Washington Capitals alumni Friday, Dec. 31 at 9:30 a.m.
It’s all part of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Weekend on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.
The Pittsburgh Penguins also will hold an open practice session at the Heinz Field rink Dec. 31 at 11:30 a.m. One ticket, for $25, will enable fans to attend both the alumni game and the Penguins’ practice. (The Washington Capitals 2 p.m. practice will be closed to the public).
Seating capacity for the Dec. 31 events will be 10,000. Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1.800.745.3000.
Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Larry Murphy will join Lemieux on the Penguins’ roster, while two alumni rookies – Gary Roberts and Billy Guerin – will add some much-needed “youth” to the team.
Other alums playing for the Penguins include Phil Bourque, Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Jay Caufield, Bob Errey, Dave Hannan, Francois Leroux, Troy Loney, Greg Malone, Gilles Meloche, Craig Simpson, Frank Pietrangelo, Gary Rissling, Rick Tocchet, Kevin Stevens and Warren Young.
Eddie Johnston, Pierre Larouche and Randy Hillier will coach the Penguins, and Jack Riley – the team’s original general manager in 1967 – will serve as GM.
Bondra, a 500-goal scorer in his NHL career, leads the Caps’ roster, which also includes Michal Pivonka, Scott Walker, Sylvain Cote, Greg Adams, Don Beaupre, Alan Hanglesben, Nick Kypreos, Yvon Labre, Gord Lane, Craig Laughlin, Mark Lofthouse, Denis Maruk, Alan May, Paul Mulvey, Robert Picard, Errol Rausse, Pat Ribble, Ken Sabourin and Blair Stewart. Others may be added in the coming days.
The alumni game and NHL team practices will be the first official events on the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field. The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played on the same rink Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.
Coach Eddie Johnson has plenty of line combinations to work with.
The Pens will be anchored down the middle with Lemieux, Francis and Trottier and those three will be supported with a strong mix of skill and grit on the wings in the likes of Stevens, Tocchett, Guerin and of course Robbie Brown.