The Penguins’ annual development camp is just winding up, but for a couple of hours on Tuesday, the prospects switched roles: from trainee to trainer.
On the second of the camp’s five days, the prospects ran clinics at some local dek hockey rinks, playing with some hockey enthusiasts ages 12 and under. The clinics were part of Project Power Play, a four-year collaboration between the Penguins and Highmark that began in 2012 and planned for the construction of 12 dek hockey rinks in the Pittsburgh area, with clinics held at each of the six completed rinks in Brookline, Oakmont, Banksville Park, Richland Community Park, Hosanna House Sherwood Event Center and Lewis Park in Hazelwood.
“A big part of it is an introduction to ... being a part of the community,” said Tom McMillan, vice president of communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He said that one of the goals of the development camp is to holistically prepare the prospects to be professionals. The next day, he added, the group would be participating in a cooking class.
Since the construction of the rink in 2013, the size of the Brookline Youth Hockey League has expanded from 110 participants to 225, said league president Patrick Moffatt. A Brookline resident, he added that rink events like the clinic showcase not only our league, but “our community’s best neighborhood.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, himself a hockey enthusiast, made an appearance at the clinic in Brookline, telling the approximately 40 young and attentive players about how lucky they were to have access to a multitude of athletic facilities.
“I didn't [even] have the benefit of playing hockey in a basketball court,” he said of his youth. “We played in the streets.”
Tom and Adele Feth, 49 and 41, of Brookline, said that the new rink has not only been great for their kids — ages 7 and 4, both of whom participated in the clinic — but it has brought families and parents together as a community.
Brookline parent Ken Newman, 45, said the rink has “tremendously” improved the local youth hockey league and united local parents, who have volunteered time to the program — for instance, by cleaning snow off the rink during the winter.
His daughter Donna, 9, participated in the clinic and said she enjoyed the experience.
“I liked when the Penguins taught us stuff,” she said. “I learned things that I didn't know before.”
Wesley Yiin: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1723.