By Mike Harrington
PITTSBURGH -- Ted Nolan's big claim to fame from his playing days is that he played with both Wayne Gretzky (on the 1977-78 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Mario Lemieux (on the 1985-86 Pittsburgh Penguins).
Tonight is Nolan's first game as a coach inside the Consol Energy Center, as his last appearance with the New York Islanders came when the Penguins played inside Mellon Arena. The old Igloo is now a parking lot across the street from the new building.
The Consol Center is widely referred to as "The House that Mario Built". There's a statue of Lemieux in front, a giant mural of him in the concourse, his No. 66 hangs from the rafters and there's a Suite 66 at ice level with several pieces of memorabilia from his career.
"I remember a lot," a smiling Nolan said today when asked his memories of Lemieux. "I remember sitting down next to Mario and they had a poster night. I asked him to sign it and he asked for who and I said, 'to me.' I still got it at home. It's 'To Teddy.' That's it. When you have a chance to play with him and watch him in practice. .... I spread that story around quite a bit."
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