Forward Mike Zigomanis normally plays against top players like Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
and Miroslav Satan. Now he’s going to play alongside them.
“They’re not much fun to play against, Sid, Gino and Satan,” Zigomanis said. “I check these guys usually when I play against them and now I’m on the same team as them. It’s exciting just watching those guys out there in practice. They work really hard. That’s why they are the best.”
Zigomanis was acquired by the Penguins yesterday in exchange for future considerations. His addition puts Pittsburgh against the NHL’s 23-man roster limit.
“I knew something was going to happen I just didn’t know where,” Zigomanis said of being traded. “I’m glad it’s Pittsburgh. I got in late last night. I’m excited to be here, thrilled. It’s a great organization, great team. They had a great run last year and let’s do it again this year.”
Zigomanis could be a key contributor in face offs. He has a 56.2 face-off percentage, which could help the Penguins, who finished last in the NHL last year with 46.1 percent. He’ll also continue in his role of checking opponents’ top lines.
“I’m just a reliable guy out there,” Zigomanis said. “I’m more of a defensive player, checker, penalty killer. That’s what I bring to the table.”
There’s at least one familiar face in the locker room. Pittsburgh native Bill Thomas played with Zigomanis for two seasons in Phoenix and with their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
Will Thomas play ambassador to Pittsburgh?
“No, I don’t even like him,” Thomas joked. “Yeah, I’ll take him to some places. I’ll take him to Primanti (Brothers) or Mike and Tony’s (Gyros). We’ll get around.”>
The President of the Slovak Republic attended the Penguins practice at Mellon Arena today. President Ivan Gašparovi, who was joined by other diplomats and U.S. and Slovakian secret service agents, was in town to meet with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
“He’s very knowledgeable about hockey and is a big fan of hockey,” said Slovakian native Miroslav Satan. “We met a few times on different occasions. It was a big honor to meet him.”>
Gašparovi wasn’t the only visitor at the practice session. Sidney Crosby
’s two grandmothers, Linda and Katie, and sister, Taylor, are in town for tomorrow’s home opener. It’s the first time they’ll see Crosby play in Pittsburgh.
“I’m pretty lucky to have them here, not everyone has that opportunity,” Crosby said. “I feel pretty fortunate. It’s their first time. We talked about (the trip) for a while since I’ve been here. It’s nice they’ve finally been able to make the trip.”
Crosby learned that his talents were profitable at a young age. In his first year playing organized hockey, Linda offered him a dollar for every goal he scored. But she never thought he would score 156 times.
“She expected it would be like a little allowance at the end of the year but it didn’t turn out that way,” Crosby said. “That was my first year playing hockey. I still can’t believe that happened but its pretty funny.”>
Crosby on the raising of the Eastern Conference Championship banner at Mellon Arena:
“It’s a small accomplishment. It’s not the one we wanted but it’s still somewhat of an accomplishment. That’s something that will be there for a long time. Again, it’s not what we wanted but it’s nice to see.”>
The Penguins home opener tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils is sold out. Mellon Arena will be at capacity for the 68th consecutive Penguins game. The streak began in the 2006-07 season and includes playoff games. Last year, Pittsburgh sold out all 41 regular-season home games for the first time in franchise history.