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by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Ben Lovejoy claimed he knew something was up.

As he and Mark Letestu walked back from a team dinner with Sidney Crosby, HBO’s cameras continued to follow second-year defenseman and the rookie forward into the hotel and onto the elevator after the Penguins captain had stopped to sign autographs for fans.

“We were like, ‘Something’s gotta be wrong here,’” Lovejoy said. “Go with Sidney, who’s signing all sorts of autographs and is the best player in the world, or the two of us—obviously something’s up. So we walked in and were like yeah, it’s definitely us.”

The two left the elevator to discover that a crew of team pranksters had removed every single piece of furniture from their room and perfectly rearranged it in the hallway.

The prank was one of the highlights from the premiere episode of “24/7 Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic,” an all-access series that debuted Wednesday. ( Watch Episode One here!)

While HBO Sports’ four-episode series gives an unprecedented look at how the players interact with each other, the prank scene may have been one of the most telling in terms of the remarkable team chemistry the Penguins have.

Road trips become sacred events among the team. In unfamiliar settings, all the players have is each other. The trips are used as prime team-bonding time and to gain familiarity with each other.

Pranks are a great way of making new players feel like they’re a part of the team. So it was only fitting that the HBO cameras caught one on tape for viewers.

The jokesters were goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson, along with players Matt Cooke and Eric Godard.

Fleury, who appeared to mastermind the shenanigans, played coy when asked about his prank, first claiming, “I was not even part of this!”

He then would only say, “I had a good crew with me. That’s all I can say.”

While the prank may have been priceless, Lovejoy’s resulting frankness to the HBO cameras was just as hilarious.

“We’re going to find out who did it, and probably do nothing about it,” he admitted.

“If you do something about it, it’s just going to keep coming,” Letestu said. “We’ll just take this one today and move on.”

Fleury confirmed that Lovejoy has not made any move toward returning the favor, saying, “He stuck to his word.”

Letestu and Lovejoy, who hadn’t been pranked before that night, prefer to be a little more strategic in their plan for retaliation.

“Now that I know the culprits, it’s maybe something to keep in mind for down the road,” Letestu said. “But nothing in the near future, that’s for sure.

“It was a pretty good prank, and it was funny. So hopefully the public enjoyed it and got to get a little insight into what goes on.”
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