Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Penguins Weekend

Friend of The Show Lauren H. spent her Friday at training camp and her Saturday at the exhibition game. She sent in some sweet pictures and an awesome recap of her entire weekend. Haha, if you guys keep this guest blogging up, I'm going to get lazy! ;)

So, I went to training camp today and it was one of the most awesome days of my life! I got there around 8:40 or so and there were a couple hundred people lined up outside Gate 1. At 8:45 they let us in and we sat in the Igloo East side (the same side as the player’s bench). I found a seat and there were a few players (most likely Wilkes-Barre guys) shooting around the net with one of the coaches.

Sidney Crosby

Around 9, the other players started coming out on the ice, and as true Pittsburgh fans, we all cheered for each one. Siddo’s cheers of course were the loudest and he gave us a little wave! When Max came out, he waved with both hands and flashed that cheesy, but adorable grin of his. They ran a few quick drills, then Therrien brought them in for a discussion around his whiteboard...during this time, Sidney and Orpik were standing near the back of the group and were quite chatty with each other.

Penguins Practice

Around 10:15, the rest of the players came out. They scrimmaged and having never been to a practice before, I was surprised to see the officials there to call the game. The periods were 15 minutes long, and they didn’t stop the clock. After the second period, they took a break just long enough to clean the ice. At the end of the third period, they were tied, so the fans were thrilled to see them go to a shootout! It was really funny because at first, the officials were throwing their hands in the air as if they didn’t know what they were supposed to do (have a shootout, go into overtime, leave it as a tie, etc.). Satan shot first for the white team, and missed. Letang shot first for the black team, deked (is that a word?) and scored! Fedotenko shot 2nd for Team white and scored! Geno scored for black, making the shootout score 2-1. Sid shot last for team white, deked, and Fleury knocked it out, so Team Black won. After Fleur kept Sid’s goal out, he did this little dance and you could tell he was taunting Sid. Then the rest of the black team came out to congratulate Fleur and you couldn’t hear what they were saying, but you could tell they were teasing him too, and Sid just had a big grin on his face, something you certainly wouldn’t see after a stopped goal in a regular game!

Sidney Crosby

Since they lost, the white team had to skate suicides and then they did one more drill before they retreated to the locker room. After a short break, the rest of the black team came back out to have their practice time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get very many pictures from this part of practice because I headed outside to see if I could catch any of the players as they were leaving. I’ve never waited for players after a game, and I must say it was quite fun! I definitely recommend you go do that at least once if you’ve never done it before.


Gonchar was one of the first people to leave, and he didn’t stop to sign autographs, but did wave quickly as he pulled his car out into the street. Dany Sabourin left not too long after him and stopped for a minute or two, but then he was gone too. Danny Richmond walked right out to the crowd and stayed for a good half hour, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and even kissing a baby (sadly, I didn’t get a picture of this)! Most people didn’t really know who he was, but they were glad to see him just the same. Everyone was impressed with his candor and patience with the fans. Joey Mormina and Bill Thomas also spent time signing autographs and again, most people didn’t know who they were (even though Bill is from Pittsburgh!), but still asked for autographs and pictures.

Bill Thomas

PGH's own Bill Thomas

At this point, a girl who was standing near me that I had been talking with told me a neat story. She’s a student in Pittsburgh, so she comes down to the games a lot and often waits outside the player’s lot after games. She said that one time, the parking lot attendants were refusing to let the players stop to sign autographs, and no one could really figure out why. When BGL came out and the parking lot attendants waved him on, he got a little frustrated with them. Not wanting to disappoint the fans, he pulled his car out onto Centre Avenue, stopped, put his 4-ways on, and got out to sign autographs! That’s just another example of how much charm and character our team has.

Max appeared a little while later, wearing a black t-shirt and these crazy-looking white sweatpants-shorts – only Max, our fashion master! :) He put the top down on his convertible and came over and signed autographs for a while, laughing and joking along with the crowd, as always.

Max Talbot

Mad Max proves that this time, the driver is cooler than the car.

Max Talbot

Then came the moment most of us had been waiting for…Sid climbed into his Range Rover and drove right over. The parking lot attendants were going crazy…as were some of the fans. He stopped his car by the entrance to the parking lot and got out. The parking lot attendant announced that he would stay and sign for a while, as long as people remained behind the gate. Well, that worked for all of about thirty seconds before they climbed around the other side of the gate and surrounded him. Because people were crowding him to the point where he couldn’t move, he inched his way back to his car and I think he actually had to slightly push people with his car door to get back in the car, even though he was being very careful. I was on the side of his passenger side, along with a few other fans. One guy stuck a puck out and asked if he would sign it, and he said “I’m really sorry, guys, but if I can’t even move, I can’t sign stuff. It sucks that a few people had to ruin it for everyone else. I’m really sorry, but if I can’t move, I can’t sign.”

Sidney Crosby

The Saint can barely get in his vehicle.

He sounded tired, and he definitely seemed guilty, almost like he seemed to know he would be letting fans down if he didn’t stay and sign. His voice was pretty quiet and almost seemed a little timid. For me, it was a very strong affirmation of just how much pressure this young guy is under. He’s only about a year younger than I am, and I can’t imagine being in his shoes. I know my own patience would run thin and I would probably want to just go home after practice too, so I loved his patience and his grace! Anyways, I thought that that would be it – that he wouldn’t sign anymore autographs. But the guy didn’t move his puck and I had my t-shirt and sharpie in my hand, so I said, “Please, Sid?” and he looked up at me (and I momentarily stopped breathing) and sort of cracked a smile and signed it, along with the guy’s puck and a few other people’s cards and such. I thanked him and said “Have a great season!” to which he looked up and answered “Thanks.” (2nd momentary stoppage of breathing, haha). I know this sounds corny, and people always say this about him, but he really did seem extremely genuine. When he thanked me, it wasn’t as if he was just thanking the 5493584985409385934th person who had told him to have a great season, but it was like he was thanking me for my kind words.

Sidney Crosby

After Sid left, there was a little bit of down time before Dustin Jeffrey came out. He came right over and signed stuff and chatted. After a little while, Hal Gill came out. He put his stuff in his car, and it looked like he was just going to leave, but then he came over and signed autographs for a while and was chatting with people.

Hal Gill

After what seemed like forever, Jordan Staal finally appeared through the doors. He was on the phone and it looked like he was just going to leave, so a few brave fans ran through the parking lot (much to the dismay of the older parking attendant who had to chase them down). He left through the other gate (the one I wasn’t at), so I didn’t really get any pictures, but it looked like he stayed for a little bit.

After what seemed like forever (again, Fleur and Letang walked out together and headed straight for Fleury’s Escalade. They waved, so it seemed like they wouldn’t stop on the way out, but they stopped and signed autographs for a long time. Fleur was wearing a Pirates hat, which I thought was kind of cool! And I also learned that Letang is a lefty (like myself, we are clearly awesome)! I know a lot of the players shoot left, but I figured that most of them (like Sid, for example) actually write right-handed.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Kris Letang

Letang and Fleury go green by carpooling.

All in all, it was a great day! I came away with a ton of pictures, and a t-shirt that I will now probably never wear/wash again! It’s actually the same t-shirt that I took with me on all my summer travels this summer (as featured in the pictures I submitted for the TSCS summer project), so it seems fitting that now it holds so many new wonderful memories!

Sidney Crosby,Max Talbot,Joey Mormina,Danny Richmond,Dustin Jeffrey,Bill Thomas,Hal Gill,Marc-Andre Fleury,Kris Letang

I got the chance to go to the game on Saturday, too! A good friend of mine and I went down and got student rush tickets. Our seats were up in E, but they were on the end where the Pens shoot twice, so it wasn’t too bad. I can’t tell you how exciting it was when the first thing that John Barbaro said was “It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh!” It was great to finally here that again. While this was the shortest off-season we’ve had in a while, it seemed like the longest!

Looking up into the Igloo

It was really fun to watch Staalzy score 51 seconds into the game – he just made it look so effortless! Godard and Koci’s fight was pretty awesome to see too – Koci had a good bit of blood on the front of his jersey. Sid spent two minutes in the penalty box for slashing – he shoved the guy and then right-out whacked him in the back of his legs with his stick – it was kind of funny, but Sid’s head hung a little low as he skated over to the box.

Miroslav Satan

Dany Sabourin spent the entire game watching from a stool at the mouth of the tunnel to the locker room. There were other people (trainers and ushers, it looked like) standing around him, but it was kind of sad to see him all by himself, away from his teammates. When I got home and found this article, it made me even more sad. While I love, love, love Fleur, Dany’s a good goalie too and I definitely agree he deserves his chance to shine – and sadly, I don’t think he’ll get that chance with the Pens, so we probably won’t see him after his contract is up.

The Future Arena!

The site of the new arena.

The people of Pittsburgh have certainly already embraced Miroslav Satan as one of their own. As my friend and I were driving down Centre Avenue (where the player’s lot is) we saw his car (still with New York plates) and he was leaning out his window signing autographs for the throng of fans. He seemed a little nervous in the game, but I think he and Sid are going to be a good match. Therrien was certainly having a little fun mixing up the lines last night – at one point Sid, Geno, Staal, Satan, and Gonchar were all out there together! He played Sid, Geno, Staal, and Satan out together several times throughout the game, which was really fun to see.

Sidney Crosby,Brooks Orpik

This weekend was one of the best weekends I've ever had in my whole life.

Thanks so much for the story and the awesome photos, Lauren! Tomorrow, I'll have more pictures from Friday's practice and another installment of TSCS's Roaming Penguins. Also, check back later tonight for a post on which I'll need your help... :)

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