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Tom Fitzgerald Addresses the Media

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald is helping at the Penguins 2011 prospect development camp at CONSOL Energy Center, which concludes Saturday with an open scrimmage. Here are a few points of interest that Fitzgerald shared with the media on the final day of camp.

On his impressions from development camp:
The staff and everyone here has done an incredible job accomplishing everything we wanted to accomplish, and that’s the education part of being a pro hockey player from the mental side to the nutrition side to the workout side. The truth is the on-ice component is the last thing that we’re looking at. It’s how we feel we can develop players which are in turn assets.

On which players stood out to him:
Look at Joe Morrow the first rounder, he’s a strong kid. He skates effortlessly around the ice. He glides. He moves well and can really shoot the puck. Tom Kuhnhackl is a kid who’s gotten taller, gotten bigger. He’s a very skilled individual. He comes from great genes. His dad is a legend in Germany. We feel we’ve got a really good player there. This is a big summer for him to get stronger and bigger and come to his first NHL training camp, and get off to a great start.
On developing players in the Penguins mold:
That message, criteria that our scouts mandate that they have, we get them here. They draft them, we get them. Compete is the biggest thing. You saw what our team did in the middle of the season when we didn’t have Sidney (Crosby) and Evgeni Malkin. We competed every night. If we compete every night we give ourselves a chance. In this camp, what we try to do is instill the details and the habits that we like to play with so that when these guys leave here they know exactly how we approach every day, they knew exactly what’s expected. Our college free agents that came in last year, we tried out for them to show them what we do and how we prepare. These are the details. This is what a Penguin is. We don’t expect anything less. They bought in and signed. They know exactly what’s expected of them. There are no curve balls thrown at them. They know exactly what we are. It goes back to our scouts. They know exactly what a Penguin is, the core components of what we want as players. They go out and do a great job of digging and digging into character, work ethic, compete level, where a kid’s from, background checks. At the end of the day they all can play hockey. Then we bring them in here to educate them on what a Penguin really is.
On what the players learn abut being a pro off the ice:
The NHL security meeting is a real eye opener. Each year the message could be different. This year it was money fraud, identity theft, real things that can happen in the world. They’re all aware of it, but when you watch it firsthand and see a video of Keith Tkachuk who talks about his bank account dwindling, someone stole his identity. They stole a lot of money from him. Those are eye opening things. I think nutrition is important. The seminar that we had is very good, especially for these young guys. These guys are the grass roots of our organization. Getting them off to a good head start to their pro career is real important.
On grooming the players at camp:
It’s like an appetizer. The guys are coming back, Joseph Morrow, Scott Harrington, to our rookie tournament, this will give them a heads up on how we want to play there in a tournament setting, game situations. This is part of grooming them for that too. At the end of the day we talk about competing and what a Penguin is, we’re going to Oshawa for three games, but our plan is to compete and win. We give them the details earlier than later. That’s why we’ve always been successful up there. Our guys understand what we want to do. The details and habits that they play with are very important to us.
On finishing the camp with a scrimmage:
We all play the game because we love to compete. That’s a big component of what we have here. You can see our standing board. That’s what drives an athlete, the competition part. Some camps scrimmage every day. That’s not what we’re all about. That’s not what we wanted to build. We save it for the end. I’m sure they’re very excited about what lies ahead today, and maybe anxious, maybe nervous. It’s all about competing. I know our staff is exiting to see what we have out there, the hockey sense, skills set, speed.

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