It was Ubriaco and Young's mother, Arleene, who kept him going after that seemingly final demotion. "I knew Warren still loved to play, so I told him to enjoy it and stay with it another year," says Ubriaco. Live the moment.
"He'd call and be down in the dumps," says Young's father, Warren Sr., "but his mother would say, 'God doesn't close a door but that He opens a window.' "
The window opened a crack on March 29, 1984, when the Pens recalled Young for one game against the Rangers in New York. "That was what did it," says Pittsburgh general manager Ed Johnston. "Their defenseman, Steve Richmond, was running a lot of our guys, and Warren stood up to him. Fought him. Beat him pretty good. A lot of guys would've said, 'Why should I stick my nose in when I know I'm going back down tomorrow?' Warren got involved." Warren lived the moment.
"When they invited me to camp in September, I thought it was my last chance," says Young.
"It was really his first chance," says Johnston. "The first time he got a serious look."
Though his skating has not improved that much—Young got old fast but he didn't get fast old—he altered his style to take better advantage of his 6'3", 195-pound body. "Coming out of college, I wanted to be known only as a skillful hockey player," he says. "But if you're a big guy and you won't fight and take the body, they'll take advantage of you. It dawned on me last year that the physical stuff—body-checking, not just fighting—is another part of the game. It has to be done."
Young's ability to finish a check as well as a play impressed Pittsburgh's new coach, Bob Berry, who says he decided to keep Warren after this training-camp conversation:
Berry: "What can you contribute to the team?"
Young: "I can forecheck and bodycheck."
Berry: "Can you score 50 goals?"
Young: "No, but I can score 30 or 35."
Berry: "If you can do the second part without forgetting about the first, you've got a job."
So far, Young has kept his end of the bargain. Playing on a line centered by the gifted and vastly more publicized 19-year-old rookie Mario Lemieux, Young is not only getting his share of goals, but is also enhancing Lemieux's skills with his style of play. Indeed, it was Lemieux who requested that Young be his leftwinger.
"He handles the puck so well he makes room for me," says Lemieux. That was obvious in the second period of a 6-5 win over the Islanders recently. Moving left to right into the slot, Young took a pass from Lemieux, but instead of taking advantage of a good scoring opportunity, Young turned in traffic and passed back to Lemieux, who had a better chance. Mario popped it in.