Pens Universe has had the pleasure of doing a couple interviews so far of which we are quite proud of. We've been fortunate to be able to Barry Melrose and Matt Barnaby's opinions on our beloved Penguins, both past and present. But there is absolutely nothing like being able to interview legendary Pittsburgh Penguin broadcaster Mike Lange. Mike has meant so much to the Penguins fans over the years and its a true honor to have him offer up some time with Pens Universe. And a little something else...
PU: What is the most memorable Pens game you’ve called?
ML: There's a couple of things. Probably the most memorable obviously would be that the Penguins won the cup for the first time in 1991 against the Minnesota North Stars. Game 6 was a game where the Penguins scored very early and Ulf Sammuelson scored from the left point. And the Penguins proceeded to knock down 8 different goals on the way and I still didn't believe until the final 30 seconds of that game that the Penguins were actually going to win the Stanley Cup. We had all been disappointed so many times that I didn't even have the heart to mention the fact that we were going to win a Stanley Cup. And obviously the joy that comes with it is something. I don't say its unfortunate anytime you win a Cup, but they won it on the road, and they won the second year on the road and they've never won one at home. So maybe that's in the cards for them someday to win one at the Mellon Arena or if its this new building so be it.
PU: What was your favorite Pens season outside of the Cup years?
ML: For me in all likely hood it was the first season I worked here in 74-75 and it was a lifelong dream for me to be in the major leagues. No way in the world did I ever dream it would be hockey. But the Good Lord said no, this is what you are gonna do. So I had the opportunity to be with that team they had nine 20 goal scorers on that club that year. They were a very very good hockey club. But they were also apart of NHL history. Only two teams in the history of the league have ever won 3 games in a playoff series and then lost four. So there aren't many of us around that can talk about that type of series and what transpired but I am one of them. The other series would be 1942 when Toronto played Detroit and if I'm not mistaken they had a 3-0 lead and Detroit beat them for the Cup, but you may want to check on that. (Stat verified, though it was Toronto who beat Detroit)
PU: In your opinion, what has Sidney Crosby meant to the organization?
ML: Well he has obviously brought a face to the Pittsburgh Penguins and he has immediately tied into this whole area and has been the face of the NHL since his arrival. He means a great deal. He created the value obviously financially to increase substantially. He's meant a great deal to this organization. It's kind of ironic that his landlord is Mario Lemieux and he has lived with him the first few years of his career. But that's pretty obvious that these two guys have really been a big part of what has made this franchise, including Lemieux from the 80's.
PU: Who has had the biggest influence on your broadcasting style?
ML: Well number one my mentor was Al McCoy who was with the Phoenix RoadRunners in the Western Hockey League and went over to the Phoenix Suns. He had the biggest influence on my broadcasting style.
As far as listening, when I was younger Bill King who was the voice of the Oakland Raiders and also the San Francisco Warriors of the NBA. He had a big influence on me. Those were the two guys that have really been apart of my blood if you will as far as broadcasting games in the way they did them. And I like to think I do a lot of my games as they would. Bill King recently passed away and Al McCoy is still broadcasting games for the Phoenix Suns, and he would be 78, a young 78.
PU: Did any of your phrases come as an accident that you ended up using regularly (via Rick Moldovanyi)?
ML: Probably the only one that came as an accident was "Lets go hunt moose on a Harley." We were sitting in a blues club (I dearly love the music) and a friend of ours who worked for US Air at the time as a baggage handler and he had gone on a trip to Canada on his Harley. And another gentleman and I just kind of started talking asking, well where's Ron? He's hunting moose, and where is he in Canada, and what's he on, a Harley. So I just out of nowhere put the two and two together and said let's go hunt moose on a Harley. That's how that one came about.
PU: Do you pre-plan your phrases for big events (Making the finals, Crosby's first goal) or do they just come naturally (via Rick Moldovanyi)?
ML: Well certainly there is some input prior to those big moments. Yes, they don't just come totally off the top of your head, and there is a little magic to it. Sometimes you say things in the "heat of the moment" if you will that do come to you. But things are pretty much under control. When I use phrases they are pretty much settled in my mind as to how I want to use them if possible. But a moment can change that, so I like to think there is some spontaneity to it. But also know I have to keep physical track of it now because there are so many so that I don't use them over and over. That's called old age.
PU: Who is Arnold Slick and where is Turtle Creek? Are they real (via IBBG)?
ML: Well there's two things I don't mention, Loretta don't ask me about her. And secondly, how dare you even doubt that Arnold Slick lived in Turtle Creek. Now, I have to tell you, people have asked me this for years and years, but Arnold is a guy who doesn't like to be bothered so he has moved extensively in Turtle Creek from place to place. The last thing I heard on Arnold was that he lived in a tailor park on the North Side of Turtle Creek, but I'm not sure if he still there or not Damian. You'll just have to find out for yourself. Can't even belive you would doubt there was an Arnold Slick (laughs).
PU: Can Pens Universe get its own Mike Lange signature phrase?
ML: Oh my! You know one day many many years ago this gentleman from Canada gave me a phrase and I really was close to using it. Now I have given it away to one other broadcaster but it was an old gesture and I doubt that he even used it. But the phrase went like this and it caught my eye and I'm not so sure I may not someday use it. And the phrase was, "Fill my boots with stew....Fill my boots with stew." Ah, that would be one I'd give the Universe, yes I will. And don't be surprised if I use it someday.
Alright Damian, Elvis has just left the building baby, see you later.