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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Ronald Petrovicky loves to build things.

He gets a thrill out of watching hard work translate into a solid, finished product.

That’s why he enjoys playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins – he sees that, through continued hard work on and off the ice, the results could be outstanding for the team.

And, that’s why he was so frustrated early in the season. After signing with the Penguins as a free agent in July, he missed the team’s first 17 games recovering from hip surgery.

“It didn’t start very well with the injury,” he said. “Every game, I was watching from the stands. The first game, I got shivers watching. I am back now and we have to focus on what’s ahead of us. We have a tough schedule and we need to come up with some victories to keep up in the race for a playoff spot. That’s our main focus right now. It happened and it’s in the past and I don’t want to worry about it anymore now. I just want to look to the future.”

Petrovicky believes the future is bright for the Penguins. He is glad, too, because he and his family enjoy Pittsburgh.

“Once the rink is filled with fans, it’s really great to play here. The fans seem to appreciate hockey here and I enjoy it so far,” he said. “I have only been playing for a month, but it’s been great and my family likes it here. My two little ones go to school and have a couple friends now. They can’t wait for snow.”

Petrovicky does not have a point in 10 games played this season. However, his impact is felt in categories other than goals and assists. The feisty 6-foot, 195-pound right winger is called upon to provide energy and work hard – often against opponents’ top players.

“I am trying to play like Jarkko Ruutu,” Petrovicky said with a smile as he sat next to Ruutu in the Penguins’ lockerroom. “I am trying to work hard and be a hard-nosed forward – be hard on the offense, be hard on the forecheck and make defensemen pay the price. I’m trying to bring some energy to this team, pick my plays, make a couple big hits so the crowd and players get into it and get some energy – that’s my main focus.”

So far, Penguins fans have enjoyed watching No. 26 create havoc on the ice on Ruutu’s line.

“That’s our game. We have to do that and it’s great that the fans recognize those kinds of players, too, and don’t just see goals and assists, but see players like this, too,” Petrovicky said. “That’s a great reward for us when the fans see what we do. We try to do the same thing every game, that’s the most-important thing – just come out every game and be consistent and end up with a victory. Hopefully, we can contribute to do that and get on the right track again.”

It’s a role Petrovicky has filled throughout his six-year NHL career. And, he helped Slovakia to a fifth-place finish at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

“I was on the replacement squad, but one of the guys got hurt real early in the first practice, so they put me in. I pretty much played all the games,” he said. “It was a great experience. I didn’t get to see much of the other sports because we were so busy and a lot of the other stuff like skiing was a couple hours away. Pretty much all the figure skating shows were sold out, so it was tough to get a ticket. But, I went to watch women’s hockey, so I can say I saw other Olympic sports. It was a great experience, but I wish we had a little more time to go and see and experience some other sports.”

Also, Petrovicky wishes he had more time to devote to his other passion – woodworking.

“Before my wife and I had kids, I pretty much worked on it a couple hours a day in the summer in my spare time. My father-in-law had a lot of tools, so I just started building things,” he said. “Since I was little, I enjoyed building things. He had the tools and I got into it. I built a couple of chairs, nightstands and beds.

“Before in the summertime, that was my hobby, but once you have three kids, it’s tough to find time. I have all sorts of tools now, but it’s just difficult to actually spend a lot of time working on it,” he continued. “I am sure once the kids grow up, I will get back into it and build some furniture and eventually, maybe, my own house. I’d love to do that one day – use the time we have off from playing hockey to do something important for my family.”

Among the items Petrovicky has crafted, he lists custom-made beds as his best work, especially one he built while he was with the Calgary Flames from 2000-02.

“I had a house in Calgary. When I got traded to New York, I sold the house to Steve Begin. I offered him all sorts of other furniture, but all he wanted was the house and the bed I built in it because he really liked it,” he said. “I sold it pretty well, so that made me feel good that I did a nice job on that. Right now, time is more precious for me because I have three kids and I have to spend time with them.”

Nevertheless, his dream is to eventually build a house for his family. But, he knows he can’t do it alone.

“I still need lots of help with all sorts of things. My father-in-law is really good at it, so he’ll be the supervisor and I will be one of the builders that will help,” he said. “I have two girls and one son. Maybe the girls can help with painting and my son can help with some building. He’s into it a little bit. It’d be good – a little family building project.

“I’d just like to see that something is growing and being part of it. That’s what I want to do.”

He’s already experiencing that with the Penguins.


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