Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Musings From Mad Max Talbot (part 1)

Friend of The Show Alyse has been regularly sending me translations of posts from Mad Max Talbot's French RDS blog. Because this has turned into a chaotic month for me, I've got a TON of them for you now, so I decided that I'm going to break them up into three-part series. In part one, Max talks about the Swedish trip, coming home, and the Penguins' slow starting power play. Enjoy!

A Very Nice Trip to Stockholm

I consider myself very lucky to be part of one of the teams that have been sent to foreign soil to begin their season this year. I was absolutely charmed by the city of Stockholm, and the experience that I have experienced in recent days.

For players Penguins, this short but memorable stay proved the perfect opportunity to spend time together and to refine the team. Even though we did not really need this kind of travel opportunity since we formed a team, already very tight knit.

We arrived in Sweden early last Sunday, almost a week before our first game against the Senators. We were given a small book with a package of advice to facilitate our acclimatization, especially jet lag. An excellent idea from the organization.

During the first three days we spent much time as a team. We trained in the morni ng and it took all afternoon. A good day, we had the chance to get acquainted with the city of Stockholm with a fairly original.

The team had engaged the services of a company that organizes a kind of scavenger hunt for tourists. We were divided into six groups and followed a path that lead us to different places in the city and take pictures. We visited the Town Hall, castles, a zoo ... We often had to take the boat as water and bridges are ubiquitous in Stockholm. It is a bit like the Venice of Sweden.

There has been much marketing in the city and we were also given tickets to take the bus. We also enjoyed all kinds of food and had to guess what was Swedish and what was not. Even if it was not a huge culture shock, we really could learn a lot about the place.

In the evening we all met to announce the winning team and we watched all the photos the boys had taken. It was a good laugh.

I was impressed by the beauty of the city, its cleanliness. People were very friendly. We had no difficulty in understanding, since everyone must learn English in school there. It was great.

Stockholm hosted us like kings, but one should not forget that there was going to be work. Indeed, last weekend, we started our regular season competing in a double header against the Senators.

There are no Swedes in our alignment whilst Daniel Alfredsson carries the colors of Ottawa. For this reason, I think I felt that the crowd had a slight bias for the Senators, but very light. The biggest ovation was Mats Sundin, who received it when he made [the puck drop] Thursday in the protocol before the first match.

People love hockey there and know their business. It was a game played outside competition in Helsinki and the tickets went in 28 minutes. The atmosphere at the parties was truly electrifying. It was different to America precisely because the proponents did not support a team in particular. They applauded and reacted when both teams were making a big Thursday (I couldn’t find the appropriate translation for the end of this sentence… so I’m not entirely sure what he meant)

It was not my first experience at an international level. In juniors, I was part of Team Canada when the world championship was held in Helsinki. I had also been in the Czech Republic for the under 18 tournament, and had participated in a charity activity in England about three years ago.

Home Sweet Home

We returned to Pittsburgh late Monday night and even though our season officially started in the last few days, now that it starts for real.

I love the way the NHL has organized our schedule. We do not play before Saturday and our next four games are at home. It is more likely that the Ducks the past year, who had to immediately return to the road on their return from Europe. It seems that the League has learned from its mistakes.

All the players are eager to compete in our first game in the Igloo, we feel a special excitement in the city of Pittsburgh over the next season. It's still two years ago that plays sold out already last year, we felt a extra excitement to our club. This fall, at the training camp, it was not uncommon to see dozens of supporters expecting the players to exit the arena to be photographed and get autographs.

We feel that people are anxious for [the season] to start. Before, we did for the Steelers here, but things have changed. I can tell you that last year in the series, they did not talk too much football in town! Local media have noticed the winds of change and everyone is aware that the Steelers must now share the attention of sports fans in the city with the Penguins. Moreover, it is not uncommon to see several Steelers players at our games. Coach Mike Tomlin is without a doubt one of our biggest fans.

Conversely, I myself become a very big fan of football. It started last year when I went to see a Jets game in New York with my friend Bruno Gervais. Plus, the more I'm here and I’m sure the Steelers are my team. Whenever I have the chance to go to Heinz Field, I go running. I have made friends among the Steelers players, including kicker Jeff Reid, who lives near us and I [talk to] once in a while.

Patience with the Power play

In light of our first two games, some observers believe that we are already in trouble with the absence of our two pillars on the blue line, Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar. It does not worry me too much.

I like our depth. All that it will take is a little time for guys like Kristopher Letang and Alex Goligoski to take out insurance. I can also tell you that Goligoski is a hockey player and he will probably be one of those who will take hard at the beginning of the season. However, I believe that coaches will be careful not to burn the steps with him, just as with Kristopher this year.

The season is still young and we will have the opportunity to refine our game power during training. Credit must also be given to the Senators, who have done very well with numerical disadvantage. We will make the necessary adjustments and even if the loss of Ryan and Sergei hurts, we will be able to overcome that.

Anyway, why panic? There are two of the best players in the league and they are supported by a lo t of guys who are able to find the bottom of the net.

The new [guys], Satan, Fedotenko and Cooke, were very well adapted to the group. They are already part of our team as if they were there last year. That's the beauty of the Penguins. Any player who comes here is able to smoothly adjust to his new environment. We saw the deadline transactions last season: Dupuis, Hossa and Gill, it has not taken more than a day and they were part of the gang.

This is not a big trauma for the Pittsburgh Penguins and it will be nice to see when things will start to stick.

(In part two, Max discusses the Pens' rivalry with the Capitals...)


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