CRANBERRY, Pa. – It didn’t take long at all for Sidney Crosby
and a group of Penguins to get accustomed to their new practice and training facility at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, which opened to the public today.
Crosby – who is organizing informal on-ice workouts for players already back in Pittsburgh – was joined this morning by teammates Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Ian Cole, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rob Scuderi, Jeff Zatkoff, Steve Oleksy and Adam Clendening.
Mario Lemieux’s son Austin, who was the first to skate on the new ice on August 4, also skated with the group for the hour-and-a-half workout.
The Pens’ setup in the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex isn’t just comparable to CONSOL Energy Center – it’s identical. And Crosby said the similarities between their home arena and new practice facility made the transition that much easier for the players.
“Guys were pretty excited about getting back here,” Crosby said. “Having this place definitely adds to that, and is one that we can get comfortable in. We’ll be spending a lot of time here.
“You see that they went above and beyond to make sure we were taken care of,” Crosby continued. “I think as long as you can get around and [the facility] has everything you need, that’s what you look for. This definitely has that.”
The players participated in a number of skating, passing and shooting drills throughout the session on the Dick’s Sporting Goods rink.
For Pascal Dupuis in particular, stepping back onto the ice with teammates meant being one step closer to returning from medical issues that limited the 14-year vet to just 16 games last season.
“Being on the ice with teammates and being allowed more than myself and the trainer [on the ice] here in Pittsburgh, it’s a first in basically 10 months,” Dupuis said. “It felt great to be out there.
“I know my conditioning is going to be there, I know my legs are going to be there and my skating is going to be there. It’s a matter of timing for me, a matter of repetitions in every aspect of the game. Obviously, I was told for six months to stay away from everybody and to not get cut but now that I am allowed to, I am forcing myself to get in there and create traffic and get in people’s way so it becomes second nature again.”
A group of 75-100 people filtered in to watch the workout, highlighted by a number of children cheering on the players with every goal scored followed by one of the louder “Lets Go Pens” chants you’ll hear in the middle of August.
Having a place where local youth players train under the same roof as the Penguins was one thing both Crosby and Dupuis pointed out as being pretty special.
“They are pretty lucky to have this facility around here,” Crosby said. “To be able to come around here and use all of it, you can easily come here and spend a whole day here at the rink. It is a really nice place to spend time, especially for kids and their families that are going to be here a lot.”
“It is nice,” Dupuis agreed. “A great place to go to every day and to call home as well.”
PHOTOS FROM TODAY'S SESSION...