As Sidney Crosby stood in full gear watching Kris Letang film on the ice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Thursday, he was talking fishing, golfing and restaurants with John Sinclair, who has been a season ticket holder for the last few years.
Sinclair was one of six lucky season ticket holders who got to take part in the Penguins' annual Creative Day, where every player on the training camp roster goes through a variety of stations to gather assets for the organization to use throughout the season - including headshots, PensTV and videoboard features, social media content and interviews.
"It's a cool experience because it's not something that everybody gets to do and it shows the organization is a class act," said Justin Anderson, who is entering his second season as a season ticket holder. "To see them take care of their season ticket holders, take care of their fans - it just shows how the Penguins do business, which is awesome."
"I got a fist bump from (Patric) Hornqvist and a high-five from Geno (Evgeni Malkin)," said Nancy Cummerick, a retired teacher who has had season tickets with her sister Pat since 1999. "You can't beat those kinds of experiences."
The season ticket holders, who each got to bring a guest, arrived at the rink bright and early. They were all given personalized jerseys with their names and numbers of their choosing, a media credential and a card that listed their assigned stations (just like the players had).
The group went through some of the stations themselves before going back and rotating through in half-hour increments to watch the players go through the gauntlet.
"The players all seemed up for it, they did it and all had good attitudes," said John's wife Nicole. "I liked seeing how the team worked together. I'm sure it takes a lot of people to pull off something like this and think ahead for all that you have to do for the year. And it was nice just to be around never knowing who was going to pop in. It was exciting. I just appreciated being a part of it."
This is the first time the Penguins have hosted season ticket holders at Creative Day, with this being part of the weeklong celebration of fan interaction called "The Season Begins with You."
Normally, what goes on during Creative Day is kept under wraps, so it was a unique experience for the season ticket holders who got to experience everything.
"I think it's cool for them to see these things," Crosby said. "I think as a fan, it's always fun to see the stuff that's behind the scenes, stuff that you wouldn't typically see.
"I think you see guys in a different light, too. With practices and games, you're more focused. Things are definitely a little bit lighter in this kind of situation."
That's one of the things which stood out the most to the season ticket holders - just how relaxed the players were. Another thing that stood out was just how genuinely nice they were.
"It was funny, Justin Schultz introduced himself to us like we didn't know who he was," laughed Mark Mendicino, who has been a season ticket holder for five years. "That's really cool. They're very humble. We haven't seen anybody who doesn't respect the fans as much as the Penguins do. So it's been pretty cool."
"That's how I want my young boys to be some day," Nicole added. "They do a lot in the community, but just seeing them in action today, I feel really good about them being role models to my children."