Ziggy Palffy will wear black, white and gold this season, but he should give the Pittsburgh Penguins plenty of red, too.
The electric right winger, who signed a multi-year contract on Aug. 8, is ecstatic to join the Penguins.
“I am really happy and really excited to be there,” he said. “It’s a great organization that is moving forward and I want to be there for it.”
Palffy gives the Penguins’ offense another major force in addition to Mario Lemieux, Mark Recchi, Ryan Malone and first-overall draft pick Sidney Crosby, among others. Palffy has scored 308 goals in the past nine seasons, which ranks him among the NHL’s most-dangerous weapons. It also means he should keep Mellon Arena’s red goal lights glowing like a Christmas tree.
“That style of hockey is good for me; I think it’s going to be nice,” Palffy said. “We have to show everything on the ice and be ready for the season.”
Palffy is the second high-scoring free agent to sign with the franchise in the past week. He joins blueliner Sergei Gonchar, who inked a multi-year deal with the Penguins on Aug. 3.
“I think that’s a key for us to have good defensemen; you have to play defense – it’s not too fun if you lose by six goals. Gonchar is a special guy for the offense, too,” Palffy said. “He is going to help us in the offensive zone. That’s going to be fun also. It’s going to be a lot of up and down hockey this year. It’ll be different and fun.”
The Penguins are stocked with talented fresh faces and Palffy is excited to get on the ice with the young guns.
“I think it’s going to be fun playing with the younger players,” he said. “I am looking forward to playing hard with them.”
Palffy, who is 33, likes what the Penguins offer this year and envisions the team being a Stanley Cup contender for many years to come.
“I always look for that – to see if the organization is looking for the big step to go forward,” he said. “The team wants to win. They are signing the guys and they want to move forward and not step back.”
The Slovakian could wind up on the Penguins’ first line, possibly teaming with Crosby and boyhood-idol Lemieux.
“Everybody probably dreams of playing with Mario,” Palffy said. “It’s fun and I would be excited being beside him. That’s the guy who is No. 1 and everybody wants to be like him. It’s going to be something different. Once on the ice, you don’t think about who you play with – you just concentrate on hockey.
“I don’t know where I will play,” he continued. “It’s up to the coaches right now. I am used to playing with anybody and I am going to play my best hockey like always.”
Palffy, a three-time NHL All-Star, is eager to see Crosby, who is lauded by many as the best prospect since Lemieux, on the ice as well.
“I have heard about him a lot,” Palffy said. “I am looking forward to playing with him. It’s going to be a very positive thing for the team.”
Palffy is looking forward to returning to the NHL and its new offense-friendly rules.
“Everything is behind us now and we’re ready to move on,” he said. “I played in Europe with similar rules and I played in the Czech league last year, but it’s just different there – the NHL is something special.”