Penguins’ 2010 first-round draft pick Beau Bennett
completed his first development camp with the team last week, and the 18-year-old Gardena, California native skated away from his first official activity as a member of the organization excited about the knowledge he acquired through the various seminars, workouts, and on-ice training.
|Penguins' 2010 first-round draft pick Beau Bennett learned a lot about what it takes to become a professional at the team's prospect development camp last week. |
“It was just awesome,” Bennett said. “I was able to see how all of the older guys work and just take everything in. I can use all of this stuff back at home to start training again, and also take it with me to Denver (University) this season so that I can be even more ready for next year’s (development) camp.”
Bennett, who will not be at Penguins’ training camp in September because he will already be enrolled at Denver, was making his third visit to Pittsburgh – having come twice before for national travel tournaments as an amateur – but the first where he was able to really take in the full experience of the city he hopes to someday soon call home. Like most people who visit the Steel City, Bennett came away impressed with the people and places which make this region so unique.
“I had been to the RMU Center twice before, but never really into the city,” Bennett said. “It was nice to walk downtown and see all of the different landmarks. That was pretty neat. It was also really nice to see the Mellon Arena. I had never been there before.”
Because Mellon Arena was kept partially intact for development camp, especially the locker room area where the players spent most of their week, all of the prospects were able to get a good feel for the rich history and tradition of the Penguins organization thanks to the signs and posters commemorating the team’s three Stanley Cup championships, 13 scoring titles and 43 years of Mellon Arena history.
Bennett, who expects to spend at least the next couple of seasons playing at Denver, received an up-close and personal reminder of the team’s history. His stall for the week was the same one used by Penguins Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemieux when the latter was an active player, which also made it the seat located just to the left of the one used the past five seasons by current captain Sidney Crosby
“I knew I was sitting in the stall where Sidney Crosby
and Mario Lemieux sat, so it was an honor just to sit there,” said Bennett with a smile which showed his appreciation. “I am not taking that for granted and instead using that as motivation to work hard every day to get to where I need to be.
“I think it is a responsibility level. You have to fall into the footsteps of all of these well-respected guys. Hopefully I can just keep working.”
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In terms of what Bennett has to do work-wise to one day join Crosby, the 6-foot-1, 184-pound right winger knows a lot of his development has to come in the weight room off the ice.
Coming from just one season with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and an amateur career with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program before that, Bennett had never been exposed to the rigorous workout regiment Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar put the troops through during development camp.
“I definitely learned that I have to up my training a lot,” Bennett said. “I have never been this sore before, so I will definitely have to take this training program back home and try to work it into my program.”
In addition to learning the improvements he must make off the ice, there was also a learning curve for Bennett on the ice.
While Bennett was able to show off his vast array of stickhandling and playmaking skills during the various drills and scrimmages, he felt his stamina wasn’t up to par with that of some of the older guys.
“I think on the ice I was pretty good,” Bennett assessed. “Some of the stamina skating drills I struggled with. My legs aren’t where the older guys’ are. That’s a point to work on. I’ll work on that for the rest of the summer and into next year.”
As Bennett works hard to improve the pace of his game, a point which was reinforced to him during his exit meeting with Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, he had the perfect peer instructor in Dustin Jeffrey
to show him the way during camp.
Jeffrey, the elder statesmen of group in his fourth camp, was placed on a line with Bennett, and the young pupil took note of the way Jeffrey carried himself on the ice.
“He is always moving his feet, and I think that is something that I need to bring into my game a little bit,” Bennett said. “I like to slow down the play a little bit, but watching a guy like Jeffrey showed me how I need to incorporate a high pace into my game.”
All-in-all Bennett was pleased with his initiation to the professional environment. He plans to take what he learned back with him to Denver with one goal in mind:
“I think I will really be looking forward to the future and I will be pushing myself day in and day out to get to where I want to be in the future – and that is right here in the Penguins organization.”