Friday Insider: Simon says, get ready to play


A weekly feature aimed at rounding up a whole lot of odds and ends from a whole lot of time spent around our local teams …

[caption id="attachment_713" align="alignright" width="90"]32279 Despres[/caption]

• No player will see a more elevated role in the Penguins’ training camp than Simon Despres. And, truth be told, no matter what’s asked of Beau Bennett, it won’t even be close.

Mario Lemieux’s words in my interview with him this summer, in which he openly lamented that neither Ray Shero nor Dan Bylsma gave Despres a chance to stick in the lineup, apparently have resonated powerfully through the organization. As they should have. Eddie Johnston recently told me that some inside the team believed Despres was “absolutely our best defenseman at times,” and he’s right. Despres took control of the game for long stretches at both ends. And, counter to what the coaches advised, he actually did his best when he didn’t keep it simple. He did his best when he felt he was needed to step up and stand out, just as he has been throughout his career pre-NHL.