Tonight is certainly a special game for Sabres defenseman Mike Weber, who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh. Weber played against his hometown team in Mellon Arena a couple years ago but certainly never with the Pens being the hottest thing on ice like they are now.
"It's pretty special playing a hometown team, especially with Pittsburgh being the No. 1 team," Weber said after today's morning skate. "Playing the No. 1 team is alwyas fun, whether it's youth hockey, the OHL or the NHL. You want to play against the best and beat the best. Right now we've dug ourselves a hole early in the season and there's no better way to dig ourselves out than against the best team."
Weber said he had a couple Mario Lemieux jerseys as a kid and also loved former Penguins forward Ron Francis. He was also thrilled to be interviewed today by ertswhile Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Dave Molinari and Mike Lange, the team's venerable radio voice. Both are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame (Molinari won the Elmer Ferguson Award for journalism in 2009, Lange the Foster Hewitt Award for broadcasting in 2001).
After they left, Weber talked about his memories of Lange, who is as popular and imitated in Pittsburgh as Rick Jeanneret is here in Buffalo. Just like Jeanneret, Lange has a cache of catch phrases and Weber quickly rolled them out to the Buffalo media.
"My grandma actually went to bingo a lot so it was, 'Get in the fast lane Grandma, bingo is ready to roll.' That was probably my No. 1 favorite," Weber said with a laugh. " ' Scratch my back with a hacksaw' and 'Elvis has just left the building.' That was another good one. I grew up listening to him when I had hockey practices and couldn't watch the game. He was on the radio and I listened to him. Just like here [with Jeanneret], he has a great following, has had a great career. The voice of the Penguins and the voice of the hockey in Pittsburgh. He's a pretty special guy."
If you're not familiar with Lange, here's a video showcasing his classic calls. I've always been partial to "He beat him like a rented mule" although it's hard to argue with "Lord Stanley, get me the brandy".