All summer, Alex Galchenyuk has been vocal about how excited he is to be a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins after they acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Phil Kessel on June 29.
And now that the 25-year-old forward is in town and preparing for training camp to start on Friday, that enthusiasm has gone to a new level.
"It's definitely high," Galchenyuk said. "You can definitely sense the excitement level and that everybody wants to have a great year. For me, a new guy coming in to a completely different environment, it's special. It's a special place to play and it's the city of champions. You get that feel of it and are happy to be a part of it."
Galchenyuk was one of a handful of players who participated in an informal skate at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Tuesday. He has been given the stall next to Evgeni Malkin, and when reporters entered the locker room following the skate, he immediately volunteered Galchenyuk for interviews.
The two of them met only recently - skating together in Miami at the end of August - but have already developed a good rapport.
"He's a really outgoing, funny guy," Galchenyuk said. "I'm definitely learning about him and learning from his game."
The two of them were conversing in Russian, which is actually Galchenyuk's first language (he's fluent in three total, along with English and Italian) as his parents are from Belarus.
But Galchenyuk hasn't had a chance to speak it much since moving to North America to play hockey, so he's looking forward to brushing up on it with his new teammate.
"I only talk to my parents and my sister (in Russian) and that's it, so it's slowly getting worse and worse," he joked. "It happens, so I've got to catch up with 'Geno' a little bit."
While Galchenyuk met Malkin just this summer, he had already been acquainted with Kris Letang. The defenseman is looking forward to having a player of Galchenyuk's caliber to move the puck up to.
"I had a chance to skate with him when he was playing in Montreal, so we know each other a little bit," Letang said. "I know he's a terrific player. He's got great hands, a great shot. He's going to be a big part of our team, for sure."
Letang said that while he didn't train with Galchenyuk this summer, he follows him on social media and has seen the training videos posted to Instagram.
"He's a hard worker," Letang said. "It's good to have him on our team."
The feeling is mutual for Galchenyuk, who said it's been surreal for him to be sharing a locker room with and skating alongside Letang, Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
"Those are guys you look up to before you even get to the league, and then obviously you compete against them, but now having them on the same team - it's surreal," he said. "It's definitely something really exciting and it was something I was looking forward to, learning from guys like that and sharing the ice."
But honestly, just being on the ice in Pittsburgh alone is enough to get Galchenyuk incredibly amped for the upcoming season.
"Coming in here, meeting all the guys, it's great," he said. "But the most exciting part is getting on the ice and skating with everybody. Getting to know everybody, getting used to it, getting a little bit of chemistry. Everybody's looking forward to camp."