Last week, after a scary incident in which New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was hit near his right eye with a puck, Penguins veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik said he was strongly leaning toward adding a protective visor to his helmet.
This week, Orpik followed through.
Orpik added one of the clear shields to the front of his helmet in practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center, and he reported no problems or annoyances.
"It wasn't much of a difference, to be honest," he said. "I think it depends on how you approach the situation. If you approach it that you don't want to wear it, then you're not going to like it. If you approach it with an open mind and think it's the best thing for you, then it's probably not going to be that big a difference."
He said he doesn't expect to need a long period of adjustment and could add it for games as soon as tonight when the Penguins visit Toronto.
"I don't know," he said. "I'll wear it again [at the game-day skate this] morning. I don't think that's too quick."
The issue of whether visors should be mandatory in the NHL arose -- again -- after Staal's injury. He is expected to recover fully. Orpik said beyond Staal's injury and others, he feels vulnerable with the way defensemen play these days.
"The amount of pucks that have been zipping by our heads ... " he said.
Orpik on rival's retirement
While playing at Boston College, Orpik grew to loathe Jack Parker, if only because he was part of a bitter rivalry as coach of Boston University.
Parker announced his retirement this week after 40 seasons and three NCAA titles, and Orpik found himself wanting to be complimentary.
"Anyone who lasts for 40 years and has that track record has to be admired," Orpik said. "I was always on the other end of the street, so you were always taught from Day 1 to hate everyone associated with that program.
"Once you leave there, you become friends with a lot of them.
"During the [NHL] lockout, I was skating at BU. They let me use their weight room and locker room. Maybe once you get out of there, it's not as bad. He's had a great run."
At Boston College, Orpik played for another star coach, Jerry York, who is in his 41st season as a head coach and has led two schools to a combined five NCAA titles.
"I'm sure Jerry York, he won't be too long after [Parker]," Orpik said.
Bennett and Bylsma
Penguins rookie winger Beau Bennett grew up playing roller hockey in southern California at the same time Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was playing for the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings were sometimes involved in youth roller hockey tournaments, and Bennett was a participant. He lived near The Forum, the forerunner to Staples Center as the Kings' home arena.
"We would do a day tournament in the parking lot and then stick around and watch the Kings game at night," Bennett recalled.
"They had blow-up boards, and we would play with a puck on the asphalt. It was interesting, to say the least."
Bylsma remembers the tournaments. He believes Bennett's fan interest was focused on former Kings center Ray Ferraro, but Bennett said he remembers Bylsma.
"I'm going to get out my old pictures from those events and see if maybe Beau is in the background," Bylsma said
Injured center Evgeni Malkin (undisclosed injury) skated before practice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar. ... Winger Tyler Kennedy missed practice for what Bylsma called a "maintenance day." ... Bylsma on defenseman Kris Letang's strong skating: "I think the hair has something to do with it, too. You notice the hair going."
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter: @pgshelly.