By this point, plenty of people have seen CONSOL Energy Center – from construction workers, to season ticket holders to Lady Gaga fans. They all saw the various aspects of what make CONSOL Energy Center so unique, but one thing was missing: the players.
The Penguins returned to Pittsburgh and, for the first time, were all together in the new arena for the start of training camp Friday morning for fitness and medical testing. And while the players’ main focus is getting ready for the upcoming season to compete for another Stanley Cup championship, they couldn’t help but be amazed by their new home.
“It's just unbelievable. I am really excited to be here,” Tyler Kennedy
said. “You will see a lot more guys spending a lot more time here that is for sure.”
“It's absolutely gorgeous in here,” seven-year NHL veteran Eric Godard said. “I've been touring around and checking it out. It's the best place I've ever been.”Matt Cooke
has also been touring the arena. He said that on his four different tours, he found something new and interesting each time. But, according to him, nothing beats the team’s locker room.
“Being an oval there’s no bad stalls and no corners,” Matt Cooke
said. “That’s a huge thing when you’re a part of a team. Everybody can see everybody and that’s a good thing.”
“The dressing room is awesome,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “The weight room is fantastic and it screams ‘get in here and work out.’”
“Anyone walking into this building must be a little wide-eyed,” Ben Lovejoy
Lovejoy is one of the defensemen who looks to battle for two spots on the Penguins’ defensive corps. He played 12 games with the Penguins last year while spending most of the season with the Penguins’ top minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. RELATED ARTICLE: Malkin's Only Goal: "Win The Stanley Cup"
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He said that the arena is “obviously a palace,” but he doesn’t need any extra motivation to make the lineup when the Penguins host Philadelphia on opening night, Oct. 7.
“I’d play in someone’s backyard if they let me.” Lovejoy joked. “The NHL is the NHL no matter what building you’re playing in.”
For some of the Penguins’ newest acquisitions, the arena was a welcomed bonus for playing on a team with Stanley Cup hopes.
“The excitement of the arena is something that the players take pride in,” said Mike Comrie, who signed with the Penguins as a free agent on Sept 3. “When you have something like this you want to represent it and take a lot of pride in it.”Sidney Crosby
is one of the few people to skate on the arena’s ice. He and Mario Lemieux christened CONSOL Energy Center by skating on the ice in July, the height of summer.
“It was pretty good considering it was the summer and I don’t think the ice had been in that long,” Crosby said. “Considering everything it was really good.”
So after two years of construction and anticipation, all that’s left now is to pack the stands and continue the Penguins’ tradition.
“We just want to go out and make this our home and make it a home-ice advantage,” Bylsma said. “I can’t wait to see this building full and energized and make it difficult for opponents to come into.”
Max Talbot is looking forward to that, too.
“The atmosphere is going to be amazing,” he said.