While the Penguins were practicing Friday at Consol Energy Center, a few Montreal Canadiens arrived and strolled out to the visitors' bench to take a gander a the new arena.
"So far, wow," said one of those players, winger Michael Cammalleri, after the Canadiens practiced later in the day in advance of their game tonight against the Penguins.
"It's pretty cool. It's very modern. Seems very state-of-the-art. A lot of fancy buttons and electronic screens and things of that nature.
"The visiting room wins -- by far the best in the league. Might be better than some home team rooms. I think if I was a GM I'd make the visiting room as miserable as possible. I'd put those yellow lights in that put you to sleep or something, but they didn't do that here, so that was nice of them."
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill, who was part of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup team, couldn't help but draw comparisons with the shuttered Mellon/Civic Arena across Centre Avenue.
"I think this [visiting room] might be nicer than the home room was [at Civic Arena]," said Gill, who recalled the cockroaches who shared the old arena with the human tenants.
The Canadiens have mixed emotions about Civic Arena.
"I have some great memories of the old place, but as far as player comfort, this is much nicer," team captain Brian Gionta said.
"The [visitors'] showers and bathrooms were just, uh ... you never felt like you were getting the job done in there."
"Tough showers. Really tough showers," he said. "Tough to get the right water temperature. Tough to get very much pressure, or very consistent pressure. You pretty much had to run around the shower to get wet."
Told of the conflict over whether to tear down the "Igloo," Gill fell squarely on the side of progress.
"I really don't miss it," he said. "It was an old place, and it was time to move on.
"I'm a big believer in 'things change.' We can all hold on and try and keep everything the same, but times change, and we've got to change with them."
Versus reported strong viewership for Thursday's season opener, a 3-2 Penguins loss to Philadelphia in the debut of Consol Energy Center.
The cable network averaged 730,000 viewers, making it the most-watched NHL regular-season telecast on cable since 2004. It was also Versus' most-watched regular-season game, surpassing the previous high of 622,000 set by the Penguins-Detroit telecast March 22.
Locally, Versus earned a 13.4 rating, making it the highest-rated regular-season game in Pittsburgh in network history. The game also made Versus the No. 1 network overall (among both broadcast and cable) in Pittsburgh in that slot.
Winger Arron Asham (possible shoulder injury) continues to miss practice. ... Coach Dan Bylsma said he scratched rugged winger Eric Godard against feisty rival Philadelphia in Thursday's opener because he would have otherwise scratched a regular penalty killer and that could have left the team scrambling while short-handed if a penalty killer had gotten a penalty. ... Goaltending prospect Patrick Killeen was returned to Wheeling of the ECHL. He did not practice or play with the Penguins during two days on the roster. ... Eight Russians from Moscow representing the Penguins Support Crew are in town for the club's first two home games. They visited practice and have spent time with forward Evgeni Malkin.
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