Big Lead Sports Bar



The Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are back in action, although it feels like they never really left this summer. Of course, that's what happens when you're playing until June 12. But spring and summer hockey is a welcome alternative to watching the Pirates struggle through 2 1/2 months of play, especially when said hockey season ends with the Penguins hoisting the Cup.

An estimated 4,000 fans turned out at Mellon Arena to see their heroes in person, and they were not disappointed. There were the world-class talents that we are all familiar with, the young guys trying to make an impression, and a few new faces that came on board this offseason, like Brent Johnston, Jay McKee, Mike Rupp, and assistant Tony Granato. Yes, a few of last year's players have moved on, like Rob Scuderi, Petr Sykora, Jeff Taffe, Miroslav Satan, Chris Minard, and Hal Gill. And there was also the recent retirement of Philippe Boucher. But the nucleus is intact, and this group, much like their football-playing brethren across town, should have every opportunity to repeat as champions this season.

Most of the players who were banged up in the playoffs, such as Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar, are healthy and ready to go. The only Penguin who will have an extended absence is Max Talbot, who had offseason shoulder surgery and is due back in November or December. So the team returns relatively healthy, for the most part. And there's no trip overseas to start this season, either. That's one less excuse we'll have in the arsenal this season.

The talk with any defending champion will be the potential for a hangover, most recently seen locally with the 8-8 Steelers in 2006. But I'm really not getting that kind of vibe from this group of players, considering their youth, energy, and personalities. I just don't see these guys as the type to get fat and lazy after one title. If anything, it will make them hungrier to win more, with the most recent reminder coming during last Thursday's trip to the White House.

We will see what the Penguins have up their sleeves very soon, because the preseason starts on Tuesday night at home against Columbus. I don't know about you, but the potential of watching two championship teams in town defending their titles simultaneously is a pretty exciting prospect for the rest of 2009.

First day of camp - 9-13-09 [Empty Netters]
Penguins Training Camp: Together again, and, oh, are they happy about it [PG]
What to watch at Penguins' camp [Trib]

Email: Twitter: Facebook: Facebook Group

No comments: