Brian Gibbons’ introduction to the Penguins came as an invitee to the club’s summer development camps, including one when he had to pay his way to Pittsburgh to maintain his eligibility at Boston College.
It was a worthwhile investment.
Gibbons, a 25-year-old undrafted forward, was recalled Sunday night from the Penguins’ minor league team in Wilkes-Barre and made his NHL debut Monday against Anaheim at Consol Energy Center.
“It’s a special feeling,” he said before the game. “It’s been a long road.”
Small at 5 feet 7 and 170 pounds but speedy, Gibbons was having a breakout season in the American Hockey League as a third-year pro.
“Brian Gibbons has just flat-out been the best player for Wilkes-Barre through the first 15 games,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Early on, through the first 10 games, he might have been the best player in the American Hockey League.
“A lot of it has been the speed with which he can play and the tenacity that he’s playing with, making that speed a factor.”
Gibbons was leading the AHL with 15 assists and leading Wilkes-Barre with 22 points.
“Last season in the [AHL] playoffs I started kind of figuring it out more and felt comfortable, got some confidence, and it just carried over into this year,” Gibbons said.
A bonded bunch
The game was the final stop on a four-game swing through the Eastern Conference for the Ducks, who have played 15 of their 23 games on the road.
“They do things together,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said of his players. “It’s a really good group for that. They get along with each other so well, it’s made life a little bit easier for them, I’m sure, rather than everybody going their separate ways.”
It’s an age-old idea that teams on the road get a chance to bond. On a rare day off on the road, the Ducks attended the Steelers game Sunday at Heinz Field.
“I think they’re welded together,” Boudreau said. “There’s been so much bonding they’re welded. They can’t bond anymore. They’re starting to call each other ‘Honey,’ as if it’s home and it’s their wives.”
The Penguins used to get a heavier dose of Boudreau and John Tortorella when those two coached in the Eastern Conference, Boudreau with Washington and Tortorella with the New York Rangers.
Now they and their big personalities are in the Western Conference. Tortorella is coaching Vancouver. The Canucks and Ducks have made their only appearance of the season at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby stopped short of saying he missed those coaches’ outspoken ways, but he understands their appeal.
“You need different personalities in the game,” Crosby said. “Everyone has a different view on things. It’s good to a certain point for people to share their opinion.”
Lovejoy the tour guide
Former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy took some pride in showing off Pittsburgh to his Ducks teammates, and he wasn’t even fazed by the weather during the Steelers game.
“I was excited that it was rainy and a little gray so I could show everybody not only Pittsburgh at its finest but also how lucky they are to be living in paradise [in California] right now,” Lovejoy said.
Penguins winger Jussi Jokinen played in his 600th NHL game. Winger Chris Kunitz and defenseman Paul Martin passed that mark in the past week. Defenseman Rob Scuderi is close (596 games), but he will miss several more weeks because of ankle surgery. … The Penguins’ healthy scratches were forwards Zach Sill and Matt D’Agostini and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. … Crosby will be one of more than a dozen NHL players featured in a reality TV series, “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other,” debuting in January on NBC Sports Network and CBC. In conjunction with a series of outdoor games, cameras will follow star players on and off the ice.
Shelly Anderson: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.