Reporting Jory Rand
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was home sweet home for the Penguins on Tuesday as they returned to CONSOL Energy Center for the first time since the NHL lockout.
And the players were in a playful mood.
Back on home ice for the first time since the lockout began, the Penguins skated but they were still without a head coach.
“Ben Lovejoy, Craig Adams have really kind of ran a lot of practices,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “I think there have been a few guys that have stepped up, but I think we’re all just trying to do our best and it’s a little weird not having somebody blow a whistle or spot pucks.”
That should change soon though, as once the lockout officially ends Dan Bylsma will be allowed to return to the ice with his players. That is expected to happen by Sunday with the start of the season 11 days away on Jan. 19.
“It would be nice to get it over with as soon as possible; to get everyone here and start playing,” said Crosby.
A big question is, what will the fans response be after yet another work stoppage.
“Everyone has a right to their opinion, if they want to hold it against us or somehow boycott the league or boycott us, that’s up to them; but we just have to get back to normal as quick as possible here,” said Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik.
“I’ve heard a lot of excitement to be honest with you,” added Crosby. “From what I heard, people are craving hockey.”
“I was at the grocery store yesterday and met a few people that said they are extremely happy hockey is back,” Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. “All we can say is sorry for what’s going on, but we want to make sure we put our best product on the ice to go out there.”