It may have been just a rookie camp practice, but it’s a moment Evgeni Malkin will never forget.
The young Russian star stepped on Mellon Arena ice for the first time Friday afternoon. It was a moment he had dreamed about since the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him second overall at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
That’s because he grew up idolizing Penguins icon Mario Lemieux.
“It is difficult for me to describe my feelings because it was like a dream came true,” said Malkin via translator Olga McQueen. “I felt very proud and excited and, at the same time, a bit nervous. But everything goes so great because everyone shows me so much support that I am really very pleased. The ice is great. I really enjoy my time here.”
In addition, it was the first time on Mellon Arena ice for another Penguins top pick – Jordan Staal, who was selected second overall in June.
He, too, was happy to get settled in on the Penguins’ home ice.
“It was definitely good. I had some fun and I am starting to enjoy myself out here now,” he said. “It was a marathon, but I got through it. I got the jitters out. I am just really hoping to work hard and work with these players and get better.
“I am looking forward to working hard here and prepare myself for the main camp.”
Penguins rookie camp continues Saturday and Sunday with practice sessions open to the public from 10-11:30 a.m. both days at Mellon Arena. Admission is free.