Oct. 1, 2016
There’s no turning back now. The gates have flown open, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are charging forward at full speed towards another season of hockey.
And make no mistake, we mean “full speed”.
Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli wasted no time starting training camp with a high-paced practice on Saturday morning at the Toyota SportsPlex at Coal St. Whistle after whistle and drill after drill, players darted all over the ice as Donatelli ensured everyone’s legs were moving and maintained a speedy tempo.
“The way we practice separates us from other organizations,” Donatelli said. “I thought our pace out there today was really good. We’ll see if we can come back with that same energy tomorrow, but we’re trying to find that consistency already.
“If you don’t practice with pace, you can’t play with it.”
Even when the on-ice work was done, there was little relief. Players were quickly ushered to the gym for a workout that matched the intensity of the high-flying skating seen in practice.
“When we preach good habits and details in our practices, that extends to the weight room, as well,” Donatelli said. “It doesn’t stop on the ice.”
Donatelli went on to add that the plan was for the team to practice this way throughout camp, especially once more players arrive in Wilkes-Barre following further cuts from Pittsburgh’s camp. In the meantime, he expects the personnel currently under his leadership to work as hard as they can and leave a good first impression moving forward on he and his staff.
“The guys that were out there, they were working hard and competing,” Donatelli said. “We can only control the players we have here now. Whoever comes and doesn’t come (from Pittsburgh), that remains to be seen. So we’re going to work with the players we have here, and we’re focused on making them better… I’m happy with the way our guys showed up today to open camp.”
The Penguins will take the ice at the Toyota SportsPlex for the second practice of training camp tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 2, at 10:30 a.m.
Even after Donatelli’s high-paced practice, every player stayed on the ice for extra work. With seemingly nobody interested in being “that guy” who left the ice first on the opening practice of training camp, the extra session lasted for about 20 minutes before Tom Kostopoulos decided to head back to the Penguins locker room.
That is about the only time you will ever see Kostopoulos be the first man off after practice.
Shortly after Kostopoulos’ departure from the ice and some quick autograph stops for the captain, the rest of the players flooded into the locker room to prepare for their workout. Patrick McGrath was the last player to leave the ice.