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Reliving McCann's insane trade-travel-play to Pittsburgh

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

Penguins forward Jared McCann sat down with Sam Kasan and Josh Getzoff for the latest edition of The Scoop podcast. The trio covered a variety of topics, including his same-day trade, travel and game played in Pittsburgh. Below is an excerpt written from that discussion.

Jared McCann was at his home in Florida with one thing on the agenda: afternoon nap.

McCann had just returned from Jamaica, where he spent a week with his girlfriend Valerie during the Florida Panthers' bye week. The club had reunited that morning, Feb. 1, for a skate prior to hosting Nashville that evening.

McCann was excited to get back into action that night. He just didn't realize at that time that while he would be playing that night, it wouldn't be for the Panthers.

McCann arrived home after the morning skate ready for that nap when his phone rang. It was Panthers assistant general manager Eric Joyce. After he hung up the phone he called out to his girlfriend.

"Hey Val! I just got traded." 

Suddenly, the agenda had changed.

The news was a complete surprise to McCann. That same morning, he and his girlfriend booked flights for her family - milk farmers from Atwood, Ontario - to visit them in Florida, their first trip to another country. (The family would still make that trip, and would help Val with the move up north).

McCann waited for further instruction. As he did, his mind raced with possibilities.

"The first thing I thought was we get to play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel," he recalled. "Holy."

Next came the waiting.

"The assistant GM from Florida only told me that I was traded to Pittsburgh and they would be in contact with me," he said. "I kept waiting for a phone call and nothing came."

Well, a phone call did come, but from an unexpected source. It was his Florida teammate Nick Bjugstad. McCann assumed it was a call to wish him farewell.

"I didn't know Bjugy got traded with me," McCann said. "I saw his number pop up."

Bjugstad's opened with: "Hey man, we're just packing up here and getting ready to go."

"What are you talking about?" replied a confused McCann.

"We're going to Pittsburgh!"

Penguins Hall of Fame general manager Jim Rutherford called shortly after. He welcomed McCann to the Penguins and added: "We'll see you tonight."

Tonight? thought a flustered McCann.

Pittsburgh was hosting the Ottawa Senators that evening at PPG Paints Arena. The team expected its newest acquisitions to be on the ice in Penguins gear for the contest. So, the team's director of team operations, Jim Britt, made arrangements to get McCann and Bjugstad to Pittsburgh ASAP.

A private plane awaited McCann and Bjugstad's arrival for a 3:30 p.m. flight. So the duo packed as quickly as they could to catch the flight.

"Bjugy and I rushed to the airport," McCann said. "We just got there in time. We had our equipment bags. One wouldn't fit under the plane so we threw it in a seat in front of it. It was a small plane. (The bag) took up quite a bit of space."

As did Bjugstad, who stands at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds.

"And Bjugy being 6-foot-8, he took up half the plane," McCann joked.

Stretched out on the private jet after a hectic morning, McCann finally got in his nap during the flight. Knowing they had to play that evening, they both tried to stretch and keep their body loose on the small plane.

The plane touched down in Pittsburgh at 6:18 p.m. At the same time that McCann and Bjugstad were getting into a car, their new teammates were taking the ice at PPG Paints Arena for warmups. 

 

They had a long drive to get to the arena. But thankfully, a police escort was going to pave their route. Despite the frigid temperature, the policeman on a motorcycle cleared through the traffic and at 6:51 p.m. they arrived at the arena.

McCann and Bjugstad sprinted to the locker room and entered to a round of applause from their new teammates at 6:55 p.m. But there was little time for introductions. Time was of the essence.

"It was like, hey guys. See ya in a bit. Who am I playing with," McCann recalled.

The newest Penguins met with the team's equipment staff and got their gear ready. Their teammates made their way to the bench for the start of the game.

As "O Canada" was being sang, McCann and Bjugstad walked down the tunnel. They had to wait in the aisle behind goaltender Matt Murray.

After "The Star-Spangled Banner" was sung, McCann jumped onto the ice to get a quick feel. And immediately toe picked, hitting the front edge of his blade on the ice and nearly taking a tumble.

"I didn't go down though, which was good. It was pretty bad though," he said.

"My legs were jello," McCann continued. "I was so nervous. It was one of the worst games I've played, but it was a cool experience."

McCann logged 10:08 minutes of ice time while going 7-4 (64 percent) in the faceoff circle. His travel companion, Bjugstad, posted an assist and plus-2 as the Penguins won the game, 5-3.

But their whirlwind day wasn't over after the game. Pittsburgh was playing back-to-back games and had to board a plane for Toronto to play the Maple Leafs the next day.

Morning in Florida.

Game night in Pittsburgh.

Bedtime in Toronto.

"That's all such a blur," McCann said. "This is a story I'll be able to talk about for years."

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