OPENING DAY WRAPUP
We hope you guys enjoyed all of the behind-the-scenes pictures and video from everything that happened off the ice today, as well as hearing from players like Crosby, Dupuis and Sutter for the first time in a long time. The guys are thankful they’ve finished all of the medical and fitness testing and completed all of the stations at internal media day. Now that that’s all taken care of, it’s time to hit the ice and really get started.
The questions Sam posed in the opening entry…
• Who will fill the Penguins’ top-six hole next to Evgeni Malkin and James Neal?
• Who will replace Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on the third line?
• What will be the makeup of the team’s defensive corps for the opening day roster?
• How will Marc-Andre Fleury respond with a fresh start?
…Will start to get answered tomorrow as we see what line combinations and D-pairs are used during the practices and we talk to more guys during media availabilities. So on Thursday, make sure to check out the Penguins Report and follow us on Twitter (@PensInsideScoop) for all of the latest.
And tomorrow is important for another reason – it’s when the Penguins start answering the questions raised after being swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals. I loved this quote from coach Dan Bylsma today about the team’s response to their playoff exit:
“We lose in the conference finals and we do not win a game in the conference finals. We’re not going to shy away from that and looking at ways where we came up short and what we need to do better as a team and add to our team. That’s not something we’re looking to do come April 20 when playoffs come around. We have to build that now into our team. That starts tomorrow (Thursday) when we get on the ice. We’ve certainly been affected by it, looked at it, tried to have a reason why we couldn’t get a goal or a power-play goal and what happened in that particular instance to our power play that was good for every other situation throughout the year and try to learn from that and apply it. And again, that starts not come playoff time, but it starts right now in training camp and into the season.”
So until then, everyone. See you then!
BEHIND THE SCENES AT MEDIA DAY
PensTV shot the players being shot by us at various stations during internal media day. Here's the behind-the-scenes look...
All of the players' gear was in their stalls this morning, as they had to get fully dressed (minus skates) for internal media day. What a beautiful sight. (Note the new white nameplates - love the starkness of them. So clean).
NIGHT AND DAY
After Brandon Sutter was traded to Pittsburgh from Carolina at the 2012 draft, he had to wait another six months until he was able to report to his new team – and then endured a sprint of a season with the Penguins while learning unfamiliar systems and details, getting to know his teammates and getting used to a new city and organization.
“It is night and day with last year for sure,” Sutter said. “It is much more comfortable in terms of knowing your surroundings and being friends with the guys, stuff like that. It is a different feeling and now there are no excuses for being settled in. I feel pretty good, had a good summer training and I am looking forward to getting things going.”
* When he came to the organization, Sutter said he didn’t want to be looked at as just a defensive player – he also wanted to be counted on to produce offense from his third-line center role. His goal for this season is similar: “I just want to continue the two-way game I play; I don’t want to change too much. I know I have to play well defensively, so in the playoffs when we are going against those better players, I think if I can play with guys that can focus on offense, it’ll be hard to score goals on us.”
* With usual third-line wingers Tyler Kennedy being traded to San Jose and Matt Cooke signing with Minnesota during the offseason, Sutter is going to have new linemates this season. He’s not sure who they’ll be, but is looking forward to finding out. “I’m not too sure who I am going to be skating with yet, so just wait and see. But we have a lot of talented guys here and with a few guys leaving in the offseason there are a few spots open. I’m looking forward to seeing who I’ll be playing with and who I’ll be starting with. It is exciting and you always anticipate those first couple days and seeing how it goes.”
ALERT: Who will play wing on the third line is definitely a story line to follow during training camp. We should have more tomorrow once we see who slots in during the on-ice practices.
When Pascal Dupuis left the locker room for the summer after last season ended, many were unsure if it would be for the last time. Since he was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent that summer and was coming off back-to-back career seasons, no one would have blamed him if he decided to test the open market and see his value. “I wondered a bit, I think like everyone,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “I got a little nervous there when it came close to the deadline,”
* But Dupuis and the Penguins were able to hammer out a deal just 15 minutes before the two-day period where impending free agents could speak with other teams began. He signed a four-year contract with an average annual value of $3.75 million – a well-deserved raise for the veteran winger from his previous two contracts. “Honestly, I definitely wanted to come back. You guys all know that,” Dupuis told us today. “I’m glad it worked out that I’m here for another four years. I got a little nervous there when it came close to the deadline, but you know what, it’s what I wanted and they showed me that they really did want me here. I think it worked out perfectly for both sides.”
* Why did he want to come back here so much instead of seeing what he could get with another team? “It’s the best possible situation for me. I play with what I think is the best team in the NHL, play with great players every night. And the city itself, we made it our home, my wife and I and the kids. It’s where we want to spend the next four years, for sure.”
* Despite the way the Penguins lost in the Eastern Conference finals to Boston – scoring just two goals in a sweep – general manager Ray Shero decided not to blow up the team, signing Dupuis and linemate Chris Kunitz to new deals (along with other key players like Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang). Dupuis is happy with what Pittsburgh did in the offseason, but knows that he and the others will have a lot of responsibility to make sure what happened in the last playoffs doesn’t happen again. “Yes, the guys are coming back. The core players are back and it’s us again, the guys that are going to be on the ice and will need to perform to make the team successful.”
BEHIND-THE-SCENES MEDIA DAY
The Pens weren't just up in the gym workin' on their fitness. They also took part in the team's in-house media day. The guys had their new headshots taken, shot the their jumbotron intros and more.
Neal trying to do "serious face," but failing miserably.
Jokinen's thoughts on Vokoun's shoot: Not impressed. McKayla would be proud.
"You are fast Ricky Bobby. But I am faster."
Logjam of players waiting to get their media work in.
Sutter lookin' fierce. Looks like he's growing out the hair, too.
Show me blithe: click. Show me sardonic: click. Show me impassive: click.
The million-dollar smile. Or the $58 million-dollar smile.
Big Mac explains to his teammates how to field dress a moose. He's quite the avid hunter.
Hartzell reflects on the impermanence of life while being surrounded by superficial Pens employees.
Harrington gets his new headshot. Can you say "new Facebook profile pic"?
Bobby Farnham looks deeply into the eyes of team photographer Greg Shamus.
THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING
It’s been just over two months since we spoke to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in person. The first of many media availabilities with the captain took place Wednesday morning, where we talked to him about a number of topics.
* First of all, Sid looks fit. He said the much shorter than usual summer means he was able to build and maintain his conditioning from last season more easily than usual. “I feel like I’m in good shape,” he said. “We didn’t have that long of an offseason, so that’s a good thing as far as being ready.” Also, his jaw is completely healed from the break he suffered after being struck by a puck there on March 30 – and it looks like he got all of his dental work taken care of over the summer (yay, root canals!). “I feel good. No problems with the jaw. It healed up pretty quick,” he said.
* We all know Crosby has a work ethic that is incomparable, especially during the offseasons. He is just so committed and so dedicated to not only his fitness training, but also improving the parts of his game he believes can be strengthened. Remember three summers ago when he felt he needed to improve on faceoffs, so he worked on them during those months and his numbers that season were drastically improved? This summer, however, he didn’t single out anything in particular about his game to work on since there was so little time – he was more “just trying to make the most of a short summer and learning from that Boston series as much as we could. I think we didn’t like the way it finished, but we’ll be motivated here this year.”
* But while the team will be especially motivated this season after scoring just two goals against the Bruins while being swept in the Eastern Conference Finals, Crosby said the team can’t let what happened destroy them mentally. “I think you have to get over it pretty quickly and realize it’s a long season ahead of us. We’ve got to learn from that, but you obviously can’t dwell on it. I think we’ve moved on.”
* There’s going to be a lot of competition for different spots in the lineup during training camp. But with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis both signing new deals during the offseason, their line with Crosby should remain intact. “It helps,” Crosby said of having that familiarity. “I mean, you’re not having to find chemistry and that’s what camp is for, is to get ready and prepare. When you have that familiarity it helps a lot. And I think for us, we should have every reason to start well with that. I think we’re going to do our best to prepare, but I think that’s a bonus to have that."
PHYSICAL/FITNESS TEST PHOTOS
The first order of business for the Pens players was to undergo their fitness testing. They were measured on various points: body-fat percentage; shoulder mobility; flexibility; conditioning; core; strength; explosiveness; etc.
Players do physicals at the beginning and end of every season so the team can track their progress, as well as seeing if they've met their physical goals for the summer. It's not exactly a fun day for the fellas, but it's very important for information for the training staff. "Any time at the start of camp, it’s fun to see the guys and fun to get fitness testing out of the way and just play hockey," captain Sidney Crosby said with a smile. "We’re excited to get going."
First the players sign in and collect their sheet. They give the sheet to the attendants at each station to fill out the results of their various tests. Above Sutter and Bennett sign in. They're also the two most tanned players on the team. Seriously, they must have spent the entire offseason in the sun.
Joey V's hair is just out of control. He told me he's growing it out and his goal is "to be better than Tanger's."
He's got a long way to go to compete with Letang, but if he lets it grow this competition could get interesting.
Bortuzzo stretches before the testing.
Jokinen gets his height measurement - you know, to make sure he hasn't shrunk in the past year.
Bennett impressed WBS coach Hynes with his pull-up test.
A lot of guys were hanging around waiting for their turn to get tested.
Martin on the precipice of a ball toss. This tests their upper-body power and explosiveness.
Letang showing perfect form on the pull-up test.
Niskanen is all business on the push-pull.
Adams stretches out the legs.
Sutter getting some good height on his leg kick. Wonder if he's ever tried punting a football.
Bortuzzo on the pull up machine as Crosby watches in the background.
Core test. Ladies love the six pack.
Crosby and coaches Nasreddine and Bylsma talk floral arrangements.
Engelland ready to push. And...
Vokoun gets some wicked air on his ball toss.
Letang and Bortuzzo catch up on their summers.
Vokoun does a single-leg squat.
Speaking of serious air, look at the height Sutter gets on his jump test. "I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky."
Breakfast buds Martin and Neal examine the floor.
Super Duper gets ready to toss the ball. Make sure his knees are behind the line. No cheating.
Neal explodes for his single-leg squat.
Fleury gets a mobility test. He can clearly raise his hand (though he's not as good at tying his shoelaces).
Fleury squats like a boss.
Letang ready and...
One of the testing areas. Lots of trainers are here to help out.
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
'Twas the morning of training camp, when all through the arena,
Not a player was in sight...yet.
That's my take on "The Night Before Christmas" poem, since it's so fitting...because today is better than Christmas. In addition to undergoing physicals, fitness and medical testing, the players will also be participating in our internal media day here at the arena. They'll go through a number of stations, where they will take their headshots for the video board and the NHL, film for the open and more.
Sam got here early and got pictures from where the players are going to be today. No one's there yet...It's the calm before the storm.
Here's some from the gym...
And then some from the media room, where they'll be doing the stations for our internal media day...
--Michelle Crechiolo and Sam Kasan
START THE CAMP
Good morning Pens fans. The long anticipated wait will soon be over. Hockey season is nigh. Training camp is upon us.
This morning the Penguins reported to CONSOL Energy Center for training camp 2013. A total of 55 players (31 forwards; 18 defenseman; six goalies) have been invited to battle for spots on the team’s NHL roster.
Today the players will undergo physical/fitness testing and hold team meetings. Thursday will be the first time the players and coaches hit the ice together for the first official practice of the 2013-14 season.
“It’s the start of the building process for our group,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
Like every year, there are questions to be answered. Training camp should provide some of those answers. Bylsma said there are three jobs up for grabs and expects tight competition.
“We have two (spots) on the forward position and the defense is going to have to shake itself out,” Bylsma said. “There are opportunities there. There are certainly a lot of people in competition for those opportunities.”
Here are a few of the questions that need to be answered as training camp plays itself out.
- Who will fill the Penguins’ top-six hole next to Evgeni Malkin and James Neal?
- Who will replace Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on the third line?
- What will be the makeup of the team’s defensive corps for the opening day roster?
- How will Marc-Andre Fleury respond with a fresh start?
But the most important question of all to be answer is one that plagued Socrates for years: Are we human? Or are we dancer?