Taylor Pyatt woke up on Jan. 1 to learn the New York Rangers had placed him on waivers, which wasn’t exactly how he’d planned to start the New Year.
“Woke up on New Year’s Day and got the call at 12:30 I’d been put on waivers. Definitely a lot going through my mind,” said Pyatt, who was in his second season with the Blueshirts. “I wasn’t really sure about getting picked up. There was a chance I could go in the minors.”
But with the Penguins claiming him the following day, the 32-year-old is getting a new start with a new team in this new year – and he’s excited for the opportunity.
“I got picked up by Pittsburgh and it’s a fresh start and an opportunity there, so it worked out pretty well,” he said. “I was excited. To be able to come to a team like this, first in the conference, Stanley Cup contender, get an opportunity there, I was really excited and it’s been great. Kind of a whirlwind the last 24 hours getting here, so just looking forward to getting out there.”
A clean slate is especially important for Pyatt, considering how it had been going for him the last month or so. After the Rangers’ new coaching staff gave him a chance to prove himself at the start of the year after a successful 2012-13 campaign, he was sidelined for eight games with a concussion in November and struggled to re-enter the lineup after recovering – being a healthy scratch for 11 of 15 games since Nov. 30.
“There’s some young guys that came up from the minors and played really well,” Pyatt said. “I was given a shot at the start of the year and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I felt like I was on the outside looking in, so it’s always tough leaving a team but I’m excited about this opportunity here in Pittsburgh.”
He skated on a line with Craig Adams and Joe Vitale at Friday’s morning skate, and Vitale is certainly thrilled about the opportunity to play with a big presence like Pyatt.
“He’s a big body, obviously,” said Vitale of the 6-foot-4, 235-pound forward. “He’s a physical presence. He’s one of those guys you don’t like to play against. Whenever a guy like this comes to your organization, you kind of get excited. To have him here is exciting, to play with him tonight, I’m excited. I think he’s going to do well here, within the system, it kind of plays toward his strengths.”
Another new teammate who is pleased about the new addition is captain Sidney Crosby.
"He's a big guy, he brings some grit," Crosby said. "He's got speed, but with his size he wins a lot of battles. He's got control down low in the offensive zone and uses his speed wide and creates chances that way. It's a good pickup for us."
Pyatt said the coaches told him not to worry about the new systems and details and language that the Penguins use. They told him just to go out and play, rely on his instinct and just try to have some fun. He'll do that the best he can while playing his former team in his first game.
“It’s definitely going to be a little weird facing the old team right off the bat,” he said. “But it’s a new opportunity for me, it’s a fresh start. Playing the old team tonight, so get it out of the way and I just want to have a good game.”