(Pens TV West Point preview )
Training camp continues this week for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Boot camp just begins.
The Penguins returned to the United States Military Academy at West Point for three days of team building.
“It’s nice to kind of get away with just us and go through some team building things and get pushed to prepare for the season,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We had good chemistry last year, but going through the exercises at West Point was something that really brought us together.”
Once again, First Sergeant J.B. Spisso, a former Army Ranger and current member of the New York National Guard, will oversee the Penguins’ training. He is a native of Greensburg.
“He’s the ultimate leader. He could be on our team and not even play and just be in the dressing room between periods. He’s the kind of guy who can motivate anyone to do anything,” Crosby said. “He really left a good impression from everyone. He showed a lot of care in what we did and followed us through the year. I think he was an inspiration to us to keep going and hopefully he’ll have the same effect this year.”
Last year, the Penguins endured three grueling days of trudging through swamps, pushing cars up hills and various other field exercises.
“It was exciting. It was a really great team building exercise. You get a real good appreciation for what they do up there,” Ryan Whitney said. “That was tough, but we’re ready for it again.”
While the Penguins worked hard during their team-building and leadership exercises in the field, they still had to go through on-ice practices as well.
“We still practice every day. We do pretty tough drills. It’s still training camp, so we have to get ready for the season and we don’t have time to slack off. We have to keep going hard every day to make sure we are ready for the season,” Marc-Andre Fleury said. “It’s pretty tiring, but at the same time it’s fun to have all the guys together and sometimes you can laugh at them when they are doing some things.”
The Penguins anticipate some new challenges this year.
“”They will probably change it a little bit to kind of keep us on our toes,” Whitney said. “There will be a couple things to make sure we’re keeping together and different exercises to make sure we don’t quit on each other. It’s all good for us as a team and for us as people to see what it takes to be successful in a big group.”
Nevertheless, the team looks forward to working together.
“It was a lot of fun and something new for everyone here. It opens your eyes to see how the men and women up there go about their every day life and what they have to do,” Colby Armstrong said. “You learn how to work as a team, but at the same time, you’re having a pretty good time doing it. It’s a great experience.”