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Condon Staying in the Moment

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Mike Condon has worn a Pens jersey before in his professional career - just not as a member of this organization.

Condon, who was claimed off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday to serve as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup while Matt Murray recovers from a broken hand, played his first professional season with the Wheeling Nailers - who is the ECHL affiliate of both Pittsburgh and Montreal.

And despite being a Canadiens prospect - signing with the organization as a free agent after four years at Princeton - Condon said the Pens treated him like one of their own.

"Everyone was great down there," he said. "I was the only Montreal prospect down there for a long time in Wheeling. The Pittsburgh people were very nice to me throughout the whole time, whether it was Bill Guerin or (Mike) Bales coming down and helping me out and treating me like I was one of their own.

"I wasn't even their responsibility, but they still gave me advice and compliments and tried to help me with my game. Players remember that. I remember my time down there fondly and it's great to be back in this region."

Condon, 26, comes to the Pens having handled the majority of the netminding duties for the Habs as a rookie last year after the 2014-15 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, Carey Price, went down.

Condon started 51 of his 55 games played, posting a 21-25-6 record. His 21 wins tied Anaheim's John Gibson for the NHL lead among rookies.

"It was a whirlwind, getting thrown right in the fire like that," Condon said of his first full NHL season. "There's no better way to learn than to just play and get experience. Got to play in one of the most intense markets in the league with the most scrutiny and the most eyes and as a rookie goalie, that's invaluable experience.

"I learned a lot. The biggest thing I learned was just to stay in the moment, stay present, take care of what you can and take care of what I'm trying to do here."

What's also a whirlwind is getting used to a new team a day before the regular-season opener after getting here at midnight on Tuesday. But Condon has been through this before, saying with a smile that this is his fifth city in five years.

And while he's used to meeting new people and finding out where they're from, their nicknames and college or junior teams, it helps that he already knows a couple of guys.

"I grew up playing with Conor (Sheary) in the Boston Jr. Eagles organization, he was a year behind me," Condon said. "Tom Kuhnhackl was in Wheeling when I was there too. Kind of kept in touch with Tom, but he's been kind of busy winning the Stanley Cup and all (laughs). It's nice to see those guys again."

Condon and Fleury also work with the same goalie coach, Marco Marciano, up in Quebec during the offseason. As of now, Condon knows he'll be backing up Fleury on Thursday night. After that, he's not sure what the future holds.

The Pens announced on Sept. 24 that Murray, who backstopped the Pens to the Stanley Cup last season as a rookie, would miss 3-6 weeks after getting injured while playing for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Right now, head coach Mike Sullivan said Murray is tracking how they expected in his recovery. When he comes back, the depth chart for the netminder position in Pittsburgh will certainly be crowded, something that Condon acknowledged - but also something he's not thinking about right now.

"Depth chart concerns are a big thing. In my time playing, I've learned you can't waste energy looking at the future," he said. "I know that's your guys' job, is to forecast things. I keep my mental health by staying in the moment and taking care of what I can right now. That basically means getting undressed, getting a stretch and that's all I'm focused on right now. Keep it at that."

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