The Pittsburgh Penguins got a chance to see six of their prospects first-hand on Aug. 11. And, the six got a chance to see what Pittsburgh is all about as well.
Penguins prospects Sidney Crosby, Ryan Stone, Noah Welch, Ryan Lannon, Jordan Morrison and Jean-Philippe Paquet came to town Aug. 10 to take part in a two-day rookie orientation camp. On Aug. 11, the six prospects trekked to the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side in the morning for physical exams and a series of screenings. After lunch, they met with the media and got a tour of Heinz Field and PNC Park.
“It’s been good,” said Crosby, who was the No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. “It’s been nice to meet some new faces and some of the people from the organization. We did a few tests and learned some things. It was nice to see this facility and see that something like this is around."
“It’s nice to just get away and see the city, relax and see some things I have heard about. I would like to see more.”
For many of the prospects, it was the first time they had a chance to meet each other.
“It’s very exciting to come here and meet all the people,” said Paquet, a sixth-round pick this year. “It’s been a great experience. It’s good to know the guys.”
Lannon, an eighth-round pick in 2002, was impressed with the state-of-the-art facilities UMPC offers.
“We got some testing done and physicals out of the way. The facilities are top-notch and we’ve been treated first-class, so no complaints,” he said. “These guys are all great. Six guys coming in, kind of unsure of their future and where they’re going to be – it could have been awkward, but they’re all great guys and we seem to be getting along very well. It’s been nice to get to know these guys and I am sure it will make the transition easier with a few familiar faces.”
Likewise, Stone, a second-round pick in 2003, was very impressed with the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. It was his second trip there. He attended the Penguins’ first rookie orientation camp in 2003.
“I was here back in 2003, but it’s a great facility here with great people,” he said. “It was pretty cool to meet some of the guys, too.”
The rookies, minus Crosby, who spent the afternoon with Mario Lemieux, got tours of Heinz Field and PNC Park. They did some preliminary sightseeing Aug. 10 night also.
“I have had a great time so far,” said Welch, a second-round pick in 2001. “I did a little walking around the city yesterday because I forgot to bring a pair of pants, so I had to do a little shopping. It’s been great. I met a lot of great people and I am happy to be here. It is important to meet these guys because they will hopefully be future teammates.”
The six plan to see more of the city Aug. 11 and 12.
“It’s been a pretty eventful day and a pretty fun day,” said Morrison, a seventh-round choice in 2004. “It’s great to be down here.”
Crosby was pleased with the city’s hockey-crazed atmosphere he helped spark.
“The energy here is amazing,” he said. “Ticket sales are up and that’s great. That means, as players, we’re going to motivated even more. To have that energy definitely helps our team. We’re going to be a competitive team and a fun team to watch.
“I just can’t wait to get on the ice and play with those guys,” he continued. “It’s going to be a great level of hockey and a fun level of hockey.”
Crosby is eager for Pittsburgh’s training camp to begin on Sept. 13 at Mellon Arena.
“It’s going to be nice to go through a routine and have a typical hockey day with practice and hang out with the guys,” he said. “I am definitely looking forward to that.”