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Penguins Report: 2014 Camp Opens

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Undergoing physical testing at the crack of dawn this morning wasn’t enough to wipe the smile off Patric Hornqvist’s face.
“Camp started today with a lot of testing, and I couldn’t wait for this day,” he grinned. “It’s finally here. (Now we can) get to know each other and start to build something good in here.”
Hornqvist and Nick Spaling, acquired from Nashville for James Neal on June 27, are two of a few notable new names added to the Penguins' roster this summer, along with Blake Comeau, Steve Downie, Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Greiss.
The majority of them have been participating in informal skates at CONSOL Energy Center the past few weeks, so it’s not like they haven’t been around. But nothing compares to the official start of the season, and with the anticipation for training camp building all summer long, they’re ready to get down to business.
“The last couple of weeks before camp, they always seem to drag on,” Ehrhoff said. “I’m really excited to get going. Got the testing done and looking forward to hitting the ice tomorrow.”
It’s always an adjustment coming to a new team. Some of the players have been through it before, some haven’t. But what’s going to make it a smoother transition is that every single guy in that locker room, whetherthey’ve been here for 10 days or 10 years, is starting from scratch with a new coach, systems and expectations.  
“It’s definitely easier because it’s a fresh start for everybody,” Ehrhoff said. “Everybody starts at zero and everybody has to earn their ice time. It’s definitely easier coming in when everything is new for the guys that have been here, too.”
It’s too early to tell where they’ll all fit in the lineup, so Hornqvist and Ehrhoff couldn’t answer reporters about where they’d ideally like to play. “I’m ready for whatever position the coach puts me in,” Ehrhoff said. But one thing’s for sure – this is going to be a much different group than it was last season.
“There’s probably going to be 7-8 new players in this locker room to start the year,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “So those guys are anxious, chomping at the bit to get some ice time, to get some role and responsibility.”

--Michelle Crechiolo

Don’t even get Pascal Dupuis started on the red limited-contact jersey he has to wear during the first week of training camp. But while the winger isn’t thrilled about wearing it, he understands why it’s smart to have it on for the first few days considering he’s spent the last seven months rehabbing from knee surgery.

“(My knee) feels great, it feels 100 percent,” Dupuis said Thursday. “It’s just the ligament needs to heal a little more and the young guys are around, (there’s) a lot of traffic. They want to bring me up to speed slowly and that’s why the first week I’ll be wearing my bright red jersey.”

Head coach Mike Johnston said Dupuis will progress through contact, as long as it’s controlled contact. He’ll pull him out of a couple of drills, but Dupuis will essentially take part in all of practice over the next few days.

“(My teammates are) trying to avoid me already,” Dupuis joked. “I’m trying to bump into them to see how it feels. No, they’ll see the red jersey coming; if I’m wearing it it’s for a reason. That’s what the doctors and trainers want. But if you ask me, I’d be wearing a black jersey and bumping into everybody.”

Dupuis, 35, was given a 6-8 month timetable for recovery after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL on Feb. 12 (he was hurt on Dec. 23 in Ottawa and missed the rest of the season). He began skating again in June and has been on the ice 3-4 times a week ever since. And while Dupuis said he didn’t ride the bike as much as he usually would this summer, he believes that hockey-wise, he’s ready to go. And his teammates are ready to have him back.

“I think we missed him a lot in the locker room, having a guy around who keeps it easy, keeps it fun but goes out and does his job every night,” winger Chris Kunitz said. “He’s a good leader, a good person to show guys how to play. It’s a lot of fun to have him back.”

Dupuis hated feeling isolated from his teammates last season, and is looking forward to being part of the team again.

“It was really hard just to feel like you’re on another planet,” he said. “You’re there, yes, your job is to rehab, your job is to get back to 100 percent, your job is to heal. But at the same time, what we know as professional athletes is to get out there and battle and be with your teammates and try to win some hockey games. So that part was really hard.

“But it’s great to come back and be a normal teammate, be a normal guy and be in the room practicing with the guys, working out and just be in every conversation instead of just coming in late and knowing everything late and not being part of it.”

--Michelle Crechiolo

Penguins centers 
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will not be available for the start of training camp, which begins on-ice sessions on Friday morning.

Both players suffered injuries in the last 4-5 days, but head coach Mike Johnston doesn’t expect them to be long-term.

“We’ll see over the next few days,” Johnston said. “I don’t expect any of them to be long. When the trainers and doctors inform us at this time of the year that we have to be cautious with a few people, we’ll be cautious.”

“There is no time frame for (their return), but I expect it to be very short.”

Crosby's injury is not related to last season's right wrist injury.

--Sam Kasan

Other than noting that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be unavailable for the start of training camp. Head coach Mike Johnston gave a few other injury updates regarding the team for Friday's first on-ice practice.
  • Pascal Dupuis will take part in practice, wearing a red limited contact jersey.
  • Olli Maatta will take part in practice. He'll wear a red limited contact jersey.
  • Kasperi Kapanen is also available after missing the team's rookie tournament with an injury.
  • Derrick Pouliot will not practice with the team. He will skate on his own in the morning.
"The good news on (Dupuis) is that he has a red jersey on, and he doesn't want to have a red jersey on," Johnston said. "He's going to progress through contact, as long as it's controlled contact. I'll pull him out of a couple of drills, but he'll pretty much take part in all of practice the next few days.

"(Pouliot) is by himself right now. I would think it may be a couple of weeks before he gets into contact. We'll how he's progressing. My understanding is Pouliot's (shoulder injury) was a little more complicated in procedure (than Maatta's). That's why there's a difference in the timeline."

--Sam Kasan

Here are some pics from today's fitness testing...

The calm before the storm...

CoreStix. Greatest workout invention ever. Google it.

Bortuzzo chats with WBS coach Hynes as he warms up for the fitness testing

New head coach Johnston talks to Scuderi while he warms up on the bike

Spaling laces up for a run

Bennett showing perfect form and flexibility

How tall is Kris Letang? Take a guess

How much to you think Hornqvist weighs?

Scuderi talks to Bennett while he stretches out his legs

Letang and WBS assistant coach Nasreddine catch up

Fleury talking to his former long-time goalie coach Meloche

New coaches holding important discussions

Sutter goes for a pre-test run

Samuelsson stretching hard

Staff meeting

WBS head equipment manager Paul DeFazio sharpening blades like a boss

Fleury doing pushups with his goalie coach Bales

New Pens Downie and Comeau compare scores

Kunitz is very serious about this ball toss...


Bennett working out those lower abs

Pouliot testing his shoulder range

Kunitz on the stretch test

Greiss working his leg form

Players getting backed up at the testing stations

Ehrhoff with an intense lat pull

Greiss predicts an epic ball toss


Martin's turn

Sutter getting some height on his jump

Letang set for a chest explosion...and...


Martin giving his all for that last pull up

Letang and Comeau race to 40. Where's your money?

Two legends: Eddie Johnston and Meloche

--Sam Kasan


Mike Johnston

Chris Kunitz

Pascal Dupuis

Christian Ehrhoff

Daniel Carcillo

Brandon Sutter

Rob Scuderi

Zach Sill

--Sam Kasan


--Michelle Crechiolo and Joey Sykes

Good morning Pens fans! The wait will soon be over. Hockey season is about to begin. Training camp has arrived. 

A total of 55 players (32 forwards; 17 defensemen; six goaltenders) made an early-morning trek to CONSOL Energy Center to report for the first day of training camp.

Today the players will undergo fitness/medical testing and hold team meetings. Friday will be the first time the players and the new coaching staff hit the ice together for the first official practice of the 2014-15 campaign.

“(I’m) getting anxious for camp,” new head coach Mike Johnston said on Tuesday. “It seems like it’s been building for awhile and now we’re going to get going on Thursday, so it’s going to be really exciting Thursday morning.”

“I think the No. 1 priority for us is to lay the groundwork of how we want to play, so we’ll start right away with our practices in our first three days and lay the frame work."

The Penguins enter training camp after an offseason that featured many changes. There is a new GM in Jim Rutherford. There is a new coaching staff headed by Johnston. And the roster has undergone extensive change with the departure of Brooks Orpik, James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Jussi Jokinen. Plus, the additions of Patric Hornqvist, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Downie and Nick Spaling.

Here are a few of the questions that need to be answered as training camp plays itself out.

  • What will Mike Johnston's new system look like and how long will it take the players to master it?
  • Who will take the opening among the team's top-6 forwards?
  • What will the defensive corps look like to start the season?
  • Who will backup Marc-Andre Fleury?
These questions, and many more, will be flushed out through training camp and into the regular season. And the time to figure it out starts now.

--Sam Kasan
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