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Tanev talks rollerblading, baking and more

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Penguins winger Brandon Tanev joined members of the media on Wednesday evening via a WebEx video chat. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation...

Video: Tanev Speaks To Media During NHL Pause

* Tanev's biggest asset is his speed. During training camp, Evgeni Malkin said the winger "is probably the fastest guy in the NHL."

In order to maintain that speed as best he can without actually skating, Tanev has turned to rollerblading around Pittsburgh when the weather allows. 

Tanev's rollerblading workouts vary between 30-40 minute sessions at a steady pace; uphill sprints; and stickhandling drills.

"It kind of mimics the stride of being on the ice," he said. "It's as close as you can really get. Obviously maintaining social distancing and following the rules, but continuing to work those small, intricate muscles that you need to have when you're playing hockey and have that skating stride."

Tanev had a pair of rollerblades at home in Toronto, but figured it was easier to order a new pair online versus trying to get them shipped across the border. And he's so glad that he did.

"It's the joy of getting on a pair of skates, whether they're ice hockey skates or rollerblades, and to feel the puck," he said. "It's something that we all cherish."

* When he's not working out and staying active, the energetic 28-year-old nicknamed "Turbo" has found a myriad of ways to occupy himself while living alone in Pittsburgh.

I talked with Tanev recently about the story behind his Seinfeld GIFs. He told me that in addition to re-bingeing that show, he was also watching Ozark, Outer Banks, Unorthodox or the Michael Jordan documentary 'The Last Dance.'

He said that he has also been reading books and doing puzzles, starting with a 500-piece one and then moving onto a 1,000-piece one. He said that working on those has helped him keep his mind sharp.

"To get your mind thinking and put it in a situation like it is on the ice when you're trying to think through a certain situation, I think you're able to do that when you're looking for a piece," he said. "It's a mental grind at times, especially with the higher-volume puzzles that have a ton of pieces in them. It's just enabled me to really think through the process of finishing the puzzle and finding those pieces that aren't working and working through situations."

And something else that Tanev has taken up during this time is cooking and baking, giving Brian Dumoulin a run for his money

"Just trying to work on my craft in the kitchen as well," Tanev said. "It's nice to put some music on and go into the kitchen and whether that's cooking or baking, it takes your mind off things."

While Dumoulin's biggest culinary inspiration is Anthony Bourdain, Tanev has been following celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. 

"I like to go online and read and challenge myself," Tanev said. "I know Gordon Ramsay has a MasterClass out there, and I'm trying to do some things that he's put out there. it might be out of my range, but you live and you learn."

When it comes to cooking, Tanev said he's done a lot of proteins, including chicken, steak and salmon. When it comes to baking, he's done muffins, banana bread and cookies. For those, Tanev has gotten inspiration from his mom Sophia.

"My mom, who's been cooking and baking a ton back home for our family, has sent me some recipes," he said. "I've tried to mimic those or change those in certain ways that maybe I like a little bit better. But it's nice to try stuff that she's been doing and Gordon Ramsay's recipes as well. I've been following them pretty closely."

* Overall, Tanev has been a terrific fit here in Pittsburgh after signing a five-year contract as an unrestricted free agent last summer. 

On the ice, Tanev is thriving in his fourth-line role and has become of the team's best penalty killers, tied for second in shorthanded time on ice. Off the ice, he quickly became one of the glue guys in the locker room, with his buddy Kris Letang calling him the 'funniest' and 'loudest' on the team.

Needless to say, he's looking forward to getting back to work.

"I made the right decision to come to Pittsburgh," Tanev said. "The organization and the team and everybody involved has been so first-class. The guys in the locker room are great, so is the coaching staff - everybody in the organization does such a great job. That made things so much easier for me coming in as a new player, when you're able to come in, it almost feels like you've been here for years.

"You're extremely comfortable and confident in your situation, and the city of Pittsburgh has been great. I love everything about it and every moment we've had this year. I'm really excited to continue this for many years and to finish off this season as well."

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