Head coach Dan Bylsma spoke to the media and covered a variety of topics. Here is my takeaway on the most interesting/insightful bits of his interview.
Back to work also means back to covering the Penguins captain. Sidney Crosby was once again surrounded by media eager to hear from him. Just like old times.
--Sam Kasan, Michelle Crechiolo and Brooks Bratten (total team effort)
Here's the full transcript of what No. 87 had to say...
On having a deal done:
It’s just a relief for everyone to know that we’re going to be playing this season and now I think the focus shifts to getting ready. We know it’s going to be a quick turnaround and everyone’s excited to get going. It’ll be quite the race here for however many games we end up playing.
On the deal as players:
I think it’s good for both sides. I think there’s things both sides gained and I think it’s important that both sides come out of a deal feeling like they’re both happy with what they got, so hopefully that is the case.
On playing the division:
I think it’s going to be tough for everyone. I think everyone’s going to have their own challenges. We’re pretty familiar with the teams we’re playing against and who we’ll see often, so I think that’s pretty much the same for everyone and not a lot of secrets. I think a start’s always important, but if there is any time it’s really important, it’s now. You want to make sure you start on the right foot.
On the possibility of starting camp this weekend instead of mid-week:
I’m happy we’re starting. I’m not going to complain about waiting a couple extra days after it’s been this long but the sooner the better. It’d be nice to get as many games in as possible but I’m not going to complain about an extra couple days. It’s worth the wait. We’re all excited to get going.
On a starting date:
I haven’t heard a date myself. I know there’s been some thrown around, but we’ll have to wait for the votes and wait for everything to get finished.
On the roster being in place:
I think being familiar with guys and guys being familiar with their roles helps in having a good start and understanding what you have to do, so there’s not really a long feeling-out process for guys. But there are new players that are going to join us, so we have to make sure we’re executing pretty good right off the start. And I think it’s normal there’ll be a few more mistakes than you’ll typically see at the start of the years because of no preseason, but we have to start well.
On this lockout feeling longer with the injuries he’s dealt with:
I don’t know. We’ll see. I think it’s something I’ve been working hard as I can to prepare for. You can’t really prepare for games until you play them, but I’ve done my best to try and prepare accordingly and hopefully things will work out well.
On conditioning now compared to a normal September start:
It’s hard to say. I think you probably push yourself a little more off the ice coming into camp, but I’ve skated a lot longer than I ever have going into the start of a season so it’s hard to gauge. I think the sooner you can get into games and get your feet wet, the faster it comes back so I’m just looking forward to getting started. It might take a couple games but we’re going to have to start well.
On the shortened season:
Games become that much bigger. That’s excited. I know we’ve all missed that competition and we’ve all kind of craved that. We’re going to get a good dose of that, especially early on. I think it’s good for everyone and I think it forces everyone to be even more prepared than maybe typically it would be.
On if his ride to the rink today felt different:
Yeah, it’s nice knowing that you’re going to have a schedule and a routine. We’ve had a bit of one here, but not knowing when you’re playing is difficult. You get used to having that schedule and that routine and something to look forward to. I think we’re all kind of happy to have that back.
On the fans sticking by them:
We appreciate that. We know there’s a lot of frustration. We were frustrated; I think everyone was. It’s a difficult situation and it was ugly for everyone. We’re happy it’s behind us and we appreciate everyone sticking behind us and we’re excited to get started here.
On if his conditioning is the best it’s been:
Practice-wise, yeah. We’ve had low numbers, too, so you get lots of reps in practice. With game shape, you’re never going to get that until you play games, so it’ll be interesting to play that first game and see how it feels. We’re all going to work hard and try to make sure we get as close as we can to game shape. It’ll probably be a little bit challenging the first few games to get that conditioning, but once you get a few games under your belt it comes back quick.
PRACTICE 411 (Do people still say 411?)
There were 11 Penguins on the ice for an informal practice at Southpointe. Forwards Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby, Joe Vitale, Matt Cooke, Chris Kunitz, Craig Adams and James Neal, defensemen Brooks Orpik, Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took part in the practice.
(Goalie Brent Johnson also practiced. Though he isn’t officially a Penguin, he still is officially one of my favorite people in the world. A great guy to have around the team).
The players skated for about an hour and a half, and it was a grueling hour and a half. It was a very demanding session. The group also scrimmaged each other (with Vitale filling in as a D-man). The scrimmage was fast paced and energetic. I was exhausted just from watching them. You could tell the players haven’t been taking these practices lightly, and it showed in their conditioning and speed.
The guys are about as ready as they can get from a practice standpoint. However, nothing in practice can compare to a game. So it’ll still take some time for the players to get into game shape. But judging from the practice, they’re about as ready as can be to start playing some hockey.
Non-hockey related note: Fleury was wearing a new helmet (all white). And Lovejoy and Engelland look like they haven't cut their hair in nine months.
Greetings hockey fans! I can’t tell you how excited we are to be back at work covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and for the season to begin.
Even though training camp is still a few days away (the exact date has yet to be determined as of my typing this), the players are holding their own informal skating sessions. So pittsburghpenguins.com and PensTV took a ride to Southpointe Monday to check in on the guys and re-introduce ourselves.
I know a lot of you have been waiting a long time for hockey to start, as have we all. And I know we all are dying of anticipation for the puck to drop. So with that in mind, now that the wait is almost over, I’m going to kick start the Penguins Report with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “The Waiting.” Because “the waiting is the hardest part.” But luckily for all of us, the wait is almost over.
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