Reporting Rick Dayton
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The start of hockey season is less than a week away, and more than 500 Pittsburgh Penguins’ fans packed the team’s practice facility on Sunday for the start of training camp.
Big crowds are expected all this week as the team prepares for life after the NHL lockout.
Despite a lockout that sliced some three months off the schedule, it all begins on Saturday when the Pens play in Philadelphia. The shortened schedule comes down to 48 games in approximately 99 days.
“I think it will be very entertaining,” said Phil Zerby, a Penguins’ fan. “Every game is much more important; every game’s got playoff implications. It’s just going to be entertaining.”
The fans aren’t the only ones chomping at the bit. Captain Sidney Crosby played only 22 games last season because of injury.
“I think I’ve always appreciated it and try not to take it for granted. I think when you miss it; you realize how much you love the game. I just really missed it,” said Crosby. “It’s a lot of fun to be back playing and excited to get this underway.”
There are plenty of new faces in training camp. General Manager Ray Shero reminds that fans Jordan Staal is now playing with his brother down south.
“Jordan was a huge part of our team for six years and he’s on to the next chapter of his career in Carolina, we wish him well,” said Shero, “and again, getting a guy like Brandon Sutter at 23-years-old – and a huge part of that deal that we’re looking forward to adding here, and of course Tomas Vokoun a veteran netminder.”
Expect Marc-Andre Fleury will get the majority of action in net, but Vokoun will play a lot. At this point, fans are most excited that the game is back.
“I think they’re going to have a great season,” said fan Chrissy Salzman. “I think they’re going to have the best season they’ve ever had.”
The sprint to the Stanley Cup starts Saturday.