I definitely expected more people on hand at todays first day of the Penguin's training camp, than have been there the last two years I went. I'm sure it had something to do with that Stanley Cup thing everyone talks about.
My opinons about front runners, and teenage girls squealing over seeing either Sid or Fluery aside, I'm quite sure there was some folks such as myself that were genuinely there to watch some hockey action again after a 3 month hiatus.
Since I live 2 hours from Pittsburgh, the trip entailed me getting up at 5:30 to be on the road at 6:30. But me and hubby had no problems and were on our way a few minutes early. I was anticipating seeing the new arena under construction, but when we made the turn onto the street to park, the usual crowd at the players parking lot was there, or so I thought. Sure the group that lingers there was there, but included with them was part of the line to get in. Since I can't explain the proximity to where Gate 1 is to where the entry to the players parking lot is, just believe me, the line was LONG.
If I had to guess I'd say there was 3-4,000 people there. We were lucky to get ourselves a nice little place to sit, no not in the igloo seats, or down front, but in one of those little areas with the televisions and phone for you to call the igloo club waitress, but regretably, she wasn't on duty for practice :P But the seating was optimal for my husbands extremely long legs, and we had a view up over the glass.
Practice itself was broken into three sessions.
Team A was first, with the likes of Pens newbie Mike Rupp, Fedotenko, Malkin, Goddard (already working on his mullet as my husband noticed) Kennedy, Eaton, Letang, and Adams being the returning veterans, and the rest of the squad made up of the hopefuls looking for their shot at landing a spot.
Everyone seems to be making note of Tyler Kennedy getting extensive work on Malkin's line, and I think TK has developed considerably since the start of last season, so if he can handle it there, he'd not be a bad addition. With Talbot still going to be out once the season starts, maybe getting regular time at Malkin's side will push Kennedy further to really shine in his new role, if that is indeed where he ends up.
Ruslan Fedotenko smiled alot... somehow I noticed that. Hey, the dude's happy, more power to him!
Team B was next to take the ice. Veterans Cooke, Staal, Dupuis, Orpik, Fleury, and Gonchar made up that team. Marc Andre Fleury was sporting some nifty new pads, still white, but with a Vegas gold color scroll work on them, they looked sharp.
Team C was probably the most anticipated for obvious reasons, as Sidney Crosby was on it, as was fellow returning players, Kunitz, Guerin (not to be confused with prospect Guenin) and a couple of my fav baby Pens, Bissonnette, Caputi, and Jeffrey.
What I would say was my favorite moment of the practice, which I JUST missed with my camera was Crosby and Gologoski getting into a rather seemingly heated pushing and shoving match in front of Fleury's goal (he also came out for practice with team C). What started with Gologoski shoving Sid away from the net, ended with Crosby giving Gogo several hard cross checks to the back, the final one sending him onto the ice. Gosh guys, it's just a drill for crying out loud.
It was strange, though team C's practice was not scheduled to end until 12:15pm, alot of people started to leave around ten minutes to noon. The only thing we could think of either... they're hungry.. or there was football to watch. Who knows, but the Steelers weren't even playing today. So.. what the hey?
Anyhow, I absolutely LOVED it and would do it again for the next three days if it were not for the commute of 2 hours in each direction, and that ignorant construction that came along on the interstate once getting off the PA turnpike... words alone cannot describe the traffic jam we saw going into the 'Burgh on our way home.. on a SUNDAY! Hate to see what that'd be like Monday - Friday. Ugh.
Tomorrow I'll try to get some of my pictures up to share :))))
It's starting!!! Let's Go Pens!!!