Newly-signed Penguins forward Mike Comrie knows what it takes to get to the Stanley Cup Final. Now he wants to experience what it’s like to skate around holding the Stanley Cup over his head once he gets there.
The 29-year-old Edmonton, Alberta native was with the Ottawa Senators back in the 2006-07 season when the Senators knocked off the Penguins in the quarterfinal round en route to an appearance in the Cup Final, but that trip didn’t end the way Comrie dreamed as his squad fell in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.
After signing a one-year, $500,000 contract with the Penguins on Friday, Comrie not only believes he can get back to the Final, he likes his chances of finishing on the winning end thanks to the Penguins’ impressive core of young talent and the additions general manager Ray Shero has made this summer.
“It’s pretty hard to try to pick a Stanley Cup winner in September but I think if you look at this roster on paper and if everybody stays healthy, I think we have as good of a chance as anybody in the league,” Comrie said. “That is the mindset that top-end teams have.”
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Comrie, who has two 30-goal and five 20-goal campaigns on his resume, adds yet another qualified candidate to the Penguins’ stable of options to skate alongside the team’s trio of superstar centers - Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
and Jordan Staal
While Comrie has played with some talented players such as Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Shane Doan in the past, lining up next to players of Crosby, Malkin and Staal’s stature has him excited heading into training camp.
“There is obviously an unbelievable amount of world-class skill on our team,” Comrie said. “I think that it is important to have different looks during the season and be able to play with all of these guys, especially come playoff time. To be able to play with great players like them is exciting – as a hockey player that is something you always dream about. With these guys you just have to get open and be ready to convert.
I think I have always played the game at a high level and I always try to think the game as much as I can. When you are playing with guys that are highly skilled you try to get open, move the puck and try to create chances. When you are out there you have to get your stick open and create opportunities for them to get you the puck - Mike Comrie
“I think I have always played the game at a high level and I always try to think the game as much as I can. When you are playing with guys that are highly skilled you try to get open, move the puck and try to create chances. When you are out there you have to get your stick open and create opportunities for them to get you the puck.”
Comrie, who has played with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the NY Islanders during his nine-year career, was in the midst of adding a sixth 20-goal season last year during his second tour of duty with his hometown Oilers before a bout with mononucleosis in November sidelined him for two months.
Comrie sprinted out of the gate with five goals and eight points through the first 16 games prior to developing mono. It was a tough break for the former Michigan Wolverine, but a strong finish to the season – four goals in his final three games – allowed him to end the season on a positive note.
“Last year I went back to Edmonton and I had a great time going back home,” Comrie said. “It was a tough season because of injuries, but I was able to finish strong.”
That strong finish to last season, which allowed Comrie to register 13 goals and 21 points in 43 games for the last-place Oilers, has given him something to build upon as he looks forward to his first season in Pittsburgh.
“I feel healthy right now,” Comrie said. “I have missed some games the past couple of years but I feel really good right now and I’m ready to go. Coming to this organization is something that I am very excited about. I think it’s a great opportunity. I hope I can complement the players on the roster and be a guy that can help with secondary scoring.”
When Comrie arrives in Pittsburgh in two weeks to meet his new city, he will do so accompanied by his equally famous wife – actress and singer Hilary Duff, who has starred in the movie series Cheaper by the Dozen and the hit television show Lizzie McGuire.
The couple wed last month in a private ceremony in Santa Barbara, California.
“It’s been a fun and busy offseason, that’s for sure,” Comrie said. “But right now my main focus is on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins. I am excited to be able to come and play with this group of players and be a member of such a quality organization.”