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After Banner Raised, Fresh Start for Pens

by Tom Mast / Pittsburgh Penguins
Mellon Arena will open its final season of National Hockey League with a celebration. The Penguins’ third Stanley Cup banner will be raised to the roof in a pre-game ceremony before the regular season kicks off against the New York Rangers.

The anticipation is building as the event grows near.

“The celebration and raising of that banner, that doesn’t happen very often in your career and for teams,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s special in that regard. There will be an added energy and excitement because of that.”

Injured forward Max Talbot won’t be playing in the game, but he will participate in the ceremony.

“I will dress and be there for the ceremony,” Talbot said. “I’m going to enjoy it as much as if I was playing. We’re going to celebrate last year.”

“There’s certainly an aspect of it you’ll enjoy when you see that banner up there,” Bylsma said. “There’ll be a lot of pride and some emotion.”

But Bylsma stressed the fact that this is a new season, and after the banner is raised the team is starting from scratch.

“There’s a couple different things that will be going through my brain for that night,” Bylsma said. “A lot of it will be enjoyment, and then it will be about making sure we are focused to play. We’ve got to be ready to channel and get back to playing.”

Captain Sidney Crosby made it clear that Bylsma’s idea was getting through.

“There’s always a ceremony for the first game, introductions and things like that,” Crosby said. “(The Stanley Cup banner) is just something that we added on to that.

“It’ll be great and fun. But I don’t think it’s something that will be a distraction at all.”

More than anything the team is looking forward to getting the regular season underway.

“We’re ready,” forward Bill Guerin said. “We’re looking forward to playing for real.”

“We’ve practiced hard. We’ve played hard,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “We’re ready to go Friday.”

Talbot summed up the team’s thoughts best:

“When that puck drops it’s going to be a whole new season.”
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