GLENDALE, Arizona – Prior to the Pens practice Friday afternoon at Jobing.com Arena the team gathered around the benches for a special presentation.
Staff Sergeant Jacob Potter re-enlisted indefinitely into the United States Army with the Penguins as his witnesses. He swore to uphold and defend the Constitution and to serve the President of the United States.
“It was amazing,” Potter said. “A lot of people can’t say they had an opportunity like that.”
“My father was in the military. I can respect what those guys do, what they do for us abroad every single day,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “It’s cool to see a guy be in and then want to go back in and serve. It says a lot for his character.”
Potter hails from Hollidaysburg, Pa. and the headquarters for his battalion was located in Pittsburgh. And naturally, he is an avid Penguins fan.
“Of course I’m a Penguins fan. As soon as I saw the schedule come out this year I got my tickets,” said Potter, who is now stationed in Arizona.
“It’s a big moment for the individual and they choose where they’ll enlist and who will enlist them,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “For a Pittsburgh guy he chose us. For a few special moments for our group we participated with him. It was special.”
The timing for the ceremony couldn’t have worked out more perfectly for Potter. He hit his 13-years-served mark on Jan. 29, which allowed him to re-enlist for life. And as it worked out, the Penguins were in town just two days later.
“It wound up perfectly with them playing Feb. 1,” Potter said. “The commander said to pick where I wanted to have my re-enlistment. I just thought about it. If I can re-enlist with the Penguins it would be amazing.”
After he was officially sworn in, the Pens tapped their sticks and shouted “Hooah!”
“Hopefully he enjoyed being surrounded by an entire team,” Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. “It was nice to be a part of that. That’s something we’ll always remember.”
Potter will return to Jobing.com Arena Saturday night to watch the Penguins take on the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s something he’s been looking forward to for quite some time.
“I’m motivated for that, especially after (Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win in Los Angeles),” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep it rolling on.“