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Pens' Equipment Staff Unfazed by Time Change

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins head equipment manager Dana Heinze may have to buy a lottery ticket on Sunday.

After all, he did play his cards right when he decided to bring the team’s equipment back to CONSOL Energy Center before an official decision was made to postpone the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic until 8 p.m.

“It seems that we played our cards right and it worked out nice,” Heinze told following the Penguins’ morning skate on Saturday. “I’ve been around for a long time and I know the ins-and-outs, and I think I played my cards right for once. I could have played them wrong, and I could have been packing them up and going back over there. But we got lucky.”

Heinze and his staff, who had the Steelers locker room all set up with the Penguins’ gear for their 11:30 a.m. practice on Friday, heard rumors that the game was likely to be postponed. But they also knew a decision wasn’t going to be made until 5 p.m.

So Heinze took a chance and elected to bring the essentials of the Penguins’ gear to CONSOL Energy Center immediately following the team’s skate at Heinz Field. That way, if the 1 p.m. start did get pushed back, the players’ gear would be ready for a morning skate.

The staff pulled the team van in and packed up just the players’ gear and their sticks and drove back to CONSOL Energy Center.

“My thinking was, ‘Okay, if we’re going to play the game (Saturday at 1 p.m.), we’re just going to come back to CONSOL at 5 or 6 in the morning, pack it back up, and drive it back over to Heinz. So it’s a no-lose situation. But if it is going to be cancelled till 8 p.m., we’ll already have our stuff over there ready for practice.”

The situation could have been a stressful one because of its unfamiliarity – this is the first Winter Classic in three years that’s been postponed.

Sidney Crosby said on Friday that the people most affected by the time change would be the equipment staff, saying “It’s a little tough for the trainers. They’re the ones that are lugging that stuff back and forth.”

But Heinze, who came to Pittsburgh in 2006 after spending six years with Tampa Bay, knows that he can’t worry about what he can’t control.

“We’re organized, that’s a big part of it,” he said. “You can’t get worked up over the little things. I can’t control Mother Nature, I can’t control what’s going to happen. All we can control is what we can control.

“These (games) are big spectacles, but at the end of the day, it’s a hockey game for two points. We can’t lose focus of that. You just have to prepare for a regular-season National Hockey League game. There’s a lot of extra things and a lot of hype that goes with it, you just have to kind of put your blinders on and just go past that and just keep focusing and doing what we do as equipment managers.”
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