Penguins

Kovacevic: Guentzel’s summer release? Working on it

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Jake Guentzel tears into a slap shot Wednesday in Cranberry. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Jake Guentzel tapped his helmet with a knowing grin.

He'd just gotten off the ice at the Lemieux Sports Complex, this after a one-hour informal skating session with Jack Johnson and Chad Ruhwedel, and I couldn't help but ask, if only for fun, if his head had swelled at all over the summer.

Hence, the tap.

"That can't ever happen," he'd add. "I've got a lot of people around me who keep me grounded."

No doubt. And as he'd affirm, his dad, Mike Guentzel, a 25-year coach at the University of Minnesota and now a pro scout with the NHL's Coyotes, leads that pack. Same goes for mom Sally. And brothers Ryan and Gabe. I've been around the group, and they're tighter than a perfect penalty-kill. They push and poke each other. They talk over each other. (All except for Jake, actually.) And they can't gush about one without segueing into another.

Which is undoubtedly a good thing.

Because here's some other company Jake's been keeping in recent months: Mario Lemieux. Wayne Gretzky. Mark Messier. Rocket Richard. Brett Hull. Jean BeliveauAlexander Ovechkin. Kevin Stevens.

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