It's not business as usual for NHL, Penguins
Share with others:
Under normal circumstances, Sidney Crosby might learn the identity of his latest set of wingers today. Tanner Glass might get to meet all his new Penguins teammates. And there wouldn't be video circulating of Evgeni Malkin being upended with a hip check in a Russian pro game.
But work stoppages tend to crush normalcy, and the ongoing NHL lockout has pushed all the annual training camp questions and rites back to an unknown date.
Camp had been scheduled to start today, but it won't open until the league and its players association agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. The previous one expired Saturday.
"I don't think there's anything special about [today]," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said Thursday. "It would have been if there had been an agreement on Sept. 15."
While 14 of his players skated at Southpointe, unable to have contact with the club, Shero outlined his plan for his coaches and staff during the lockout as he prepared to play in the team's annual charity golf outing, which was pared down by the absence of the players.
His staff, including coaches, will spend a lot of time monitoring prospects at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, in junior hockey and in college.
"We'll direct our attention to that," said Shero, who met with his staff Wednesday. "That's going to keep them occupied."
Shero said they will be sure not to step on the toes of coaches handling those teams but will be "interested observers."
"Players that are playing [in Wilkes-Barre] are going to have the opportunity to perform in front of a lot of [important] people," he said.
A handful of top prospects are first-year pros, including defenseman Joe Morrow and winger Beau Bennett. Others with NHL experience -- a list headed by winger Eric Tangradi and defensemen Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo -- are eligible to be signed to AHL contracts to play for Wilkes-Barre during the lockout, and Shero said that could happen later in the month.
Wilkes-Barre's camp opens next Friday.
The one Penguin who is participating in games is Malkin, who signed to play with hometown team Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the lockout. In his first game Thursday, he helped set up the tying goal in a 4-3 overtime loss to Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
Malkin also got upended while carrying the puck down the slot one-on-three. He was unhurt. Video highlights of his game are available at www.post-gazette.com.
Crosby, who is among those skating at Southpointe four days a week, reiterated that signing with a European club is an option if the lockout drags on, but he also said such a move is not imminent. He has not compared notes with his agent, Pat Brisson, about which teams have shown interest.
Brisson told a Canadian radio station this week that it would cost between $200,000 and $400,000 a month to insure at least a large chunk of Crosby's new 12-year, $104.4 million contract.
Asked about that, Crosby smiled.
"I play hockey; [Brisson] takes care of that stuff," Crosby said. "I have no clue what the numbers are."
For now, Crosby will be limited to skating with some teammates at Southpointe -- where they have ice booked through December.
And the players who skated at Southpointe were not surprised that the golf outing went on without them, camp is postponed and the NHL has canceled the first six days of preseason games.
"I hate to say it, but we've had the feeling for a little while now -- at least since the 15th," said Glass, who was signed by the Penguins in July. "We're just in a holding pattern right now, and it feels a little bit like 'Groundhog Day' -- and it's only week one."
That won't make it easy to remain locked out of Consol Energy Center.
"It's going to [stink], obviously," defenseman Deryk Engelland said.
"I want [camp] to start, and so does everyone else. But seeing it every day, canceling of these things, it's something we've had the last month or so to prepare for. It's not too much of a shock."
First Published September 21, 2012 12:00 am