LOS ANGELES, California – The Penguins practiced Wednesday afternoon in a familiar setting for defenseman Rob Scuderi; the Toyota Sportscenter is home to the Los Angeles Kings and Scuderi for the prior four seasons.
“I went to park in my normal spot, but somebody else was in it,” he joked after practice.
Scuderi’s impact on the Kings organization can be seen inside the facility. A huge portrait hangs above the ice of the 2012 team huddled around the Stanley Cup, a championship that Scuderi helped them win.
“That’s something I’ll always carry with those guys and something we’ll remember together,” Scuderi said. “It’s all good memories, good friends that I’ve had here. I’m on a different team now, but the memories you take with you.”
Scuderi will face his former team when the Penguins battle the Kings at Staples Center Thursday night. It will be his first game against his ex-club and first return to the Staples Center.
“It’s a place where I felt very comfortable for the last four years,” Scuderi said. “It’s a nice feeling coming back. I had a great four years here, Stanley Cup championship, conference finals, very successful four years.”
Scuderi, 35, signed with the Penguins, the organization where he started his professional hockey career, this past summer.
And right from Day 1 he’s brought the leadership and steady defensive presence for which the team had hoped, despite missing 29 games due to a broken ankle.
“His experience showed right away when he came here,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He’s a good voice to have in the dressing room. And the experience on the ice, even with his injury, he keeps the game pretty simple. He really shows a lot of poise back there on D.
“He’s pretty calm and keeps it simple. Sometimes we need to simplify things so it’s good to have him back there.”
Many of the Penguins players and coaching staff remain with the organization from Scuderi’s first tenure with the club, which helped him transition quickly.
“He’s pretty comfortable with us because he knows the guys, the coaching staff. That helps,” Crosby said. “Pretty familiar with the system too. I think it worked out good for him making that adjustment.”
Even though Scuderi will be facing many friends wearing Kings jerseys Thursday, it won’t affect his loyalty.
“You see those guys before warmups and have a smile and an inside joke,” Scuderi said. “But once the game starts you see the color of the jerseys and I’ll be playing for mine.”