NEW YORK - Penguins veteran Bill Guerin made his first trip to the Nasseu Coliseum since being traded from the New York Islanders to Pittsburgh last season.
Guerin was the Islanders' captain the last two seasons, until moving to the Penguins, and still shares a lot of memories with his former teammates.
"It feels great to be back here," he said. "It was nice to see some old friends, the guys in the locker room. I saw a few of them this morning. It seems like it's been forever. It feels good to be back here."
And for Guerin, the Islanders franchise will always be special to him.
"The Islanders as an organization where very good to me, very good to my family," he said. "There's no ill will or anything like that. I wish them all the best."Homecoming II
Penguins head coach had some flashbacks when he walked into the dressing room at Nasseu Coliseum, the site of Bylsma's first-ever game as a head coach in the National Hockey League.
"There were memories walking in that room," Bylsma said.
In Bylsma's NHL head coaching debut, the Penguins fell to the Islanders, 3-2, in a shootout before the Penguins pulled off one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NHL history.
But the game isn't what Bylsma remembers most about his first game. It was instead, the pre-game speech by then assistant coach Tom Fitzgerald, who is now the Penguins assistant to the general manager.
"My most vivid memory was Tom Fitzgerald's meeting before the game," Bylsma said. "It was a memorable one. We had a few laughs about that. He was a little nervous and sweating. Thank goodness he had his suitcoat on because it almost went through his suitcoat."Star Debut
Pittsburgh's game against the Islanders marks the NHL debut of 2009 No. 1-overall draft pick John Tavares. Tavares has been gushed over by scouts since he was 15 years old and will shoulder the pressure of carrying the franchise, something Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
knows all about.
"To get to the level that he's at you have to put pressure on yourself anyway," Crosby said. "So whether he's got a lot, how he handles that - I think everyone deals with it differently. I think he just has to trust what's got him here. I'm sure he has all the confidence in the world in his abilities. Just rely on that and try not to get too caught up in everything."
Crosby met Tavares a few times, though not since the Islanders grabbed him with the top pick in the June draft.
"He's really down to earth and you could tell he's really focused," Crosby said. "Throughout camp I'm sure he's getting more comfortable, getting to know his teammates. All the other stuff becomes secondary and you just worry about playing."
Still, Crosby knows the excitement of making your debut at just 18 years old. Crosby played his first game in New Jersey and nearly scored on his first shift. He finished the game with an assist.
"I had a really good chance on my first shift to score but it got stopped," Crosby said. "I think that was the first time that I wasn't really disappointed to be stopped. I skated back to the bench and said it could be worse. It was a fun time and I'll remember that forever."