Rob Scuderi was back on the ice Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Although, he wasn’t at Mellon Arena getting ready for the upcoming season, the Penguins defenseman stopped by the Penguins Youth Hockey School for a day of guest instruction.
“It’s a lot of fun. Most of these kids and their parents are Penguins fans and they’ve been coming to a lot of games and been following the team for a long time. So, it’s fun to hear their questions and be around them a little bit because it reminds you of why you got into the game – they are having a lot of fun and enjoying it, so it’s a good experience,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. You have to have fun and have fun playing sports, in general. I am going to be 30, but I still have fun and love to play and have a passion for the game. In that regard, it doesn’t change much when you're these kids’ ages. Hopefully, they have a good time and build some character.”
Scuderi is looking forward to the start of Penguins training camp on Sept. 16.
“This time of year, it feels a little strange because we haven’t had as much time off. But, you still have the same feelings: you’re excited to get another year started. Certainly, with the promise of last year, it makes it that much more exciting to get back into it and get camp started,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have everyone back together again. In the summer, everyone scatters and that’s fine because we all have our family and our friends in our hometowns and whatnot, but it’s nice to have everyone on the same page. We know everyone is working out and getting prepared, but nothing is like that first day where you have that first real practice and real skate with hitting and whatnot.”
When the Penguins get together, they’ll have a slightly different look, thanks to the departures and additions of personnel.
“It’s always tough to lose some of those guys. I played with some of them for quite a while, so it’s tough to lose friends you’ve played with for a little bit. But, you understand that is part of the business,” Scuderi said. “At the same time, I thought management did a good job of plugging the holes that we had. If you look at the guys we had leave and the guys that we had come in and, maybe on the ice it’s very similar, and off the ice, we’ll work on getting to know them and their personalities and hopefully their families and make that transition that much easier. I thought they did a good job of filling in what we lost, so hopefully we’ll have similar results.”
The Penguins came within two victories of the Stanley Cup last season. So, the team is working hard to achieve even more this year.
“I thought we made a lot of strides last year. I don’t think many people expected that much out of us to maybe get that far and I thought we proved a lot of people wrong,” Scuderi said. “In our minds, we still have to take that next step. From the first day of training camp, that’s what our focus is and that’s what it has to be in order for us to make it that far again.”
Injuries plagued the Penguins last year as Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Talbot, among others, missed significant time. This year, the Penguins will begin training camp down one player already as defenseman Ryan Whitney underwent foot surgery.
“It’s tough losing him. He creates a lot of offense and gets a ton of points, so we’re definitely going to miss him. But, every time you lose a guy, it gives someone else a chance to step up,” Scuderi said. “Maybe Kris Letang is looking for his opportunity as an offensive guy. Guys like Alex Goligoski, who played in Wilkes-Barre last year and has some offensive capabilities, it gives those people a chance to showcase their abilities. I have the utmost confidence that they will do well and the team will do well also.”