Courtesy of Point Park University

Galchenyuk, Malkin bond over hockey, language


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Alex Galchenyuk. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Penguins held an informal skate at the Lemieux Complex on Tuesday morning as the team prepares for the start of training camp on Friday. And of all the players participating, there was one new face: Alex Galchenyuk.

Trying hard not to be new.

"Coming into here, meeting all the guys, it's great," Galchenyuk said after the skate. "But then the most exciting part is getting on the ice and skating with everybody, getting to know everybody, getting used to it so we have chemistry. Everybody is looking forward to camp."

Galchenyuk was already familiar with a few of his new teammates. Back when Galchenyuk was a member of the Canadiens and living in Montreal, Kris Letang would skate with him over the summer.

"We know each other a little bit," Letang said of Galchenyuk. "I know he's a terrific player. He's got great hands, great shot. He's going to be a big part of our team, for sure."

Galchenyuk met Evgeni Malkin -- his likely future linemate -- for the first time earlier this summer in Florida:


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"He's definitely a player who is easy to play with," Galchenyuk said of Malkin. "I'm just going to go out there and compete hard and use my skill."

Galchenyuk, while born in Wisconsin, has Belarusian parents and grew up speaking Russian as his first language. These days he mainly just speaks Russian when he's with his parents or his sister, but he'll be speaking the language a lot more with Malkin, his next-door neighbor in the locker room.

"It's great for both of us," Galchenyuk said of the Russian connection. "Even though it's my first language it's something I don't use that much, but it's always nice to catch up on it."

A language and a line aren't the only things the two are going to be sharing this season:


• Forwards Galchenyuk, Malkin, Patric HornqvistBryan RustTeddy BluegerDominik Simon, defensemen Justin SchultzKris LetangChad RuhwedelBrian Dumoulin, Juuso RiikolaMarcus PetterssonJack Johnson, and goaltenders Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith all took part in the optional, informal skate.

• Jake Guentzel and Zach Trotman were in the building but did not skate.

• Drills were led by skills coach Ty HennesMike Sullivan was outside the locker room after the skate, which is unusual for the informal workouts this time of year.

• Some hockey players have specific focuses for their summer workouts, the way Sidney Crosby, for example, once invested extensive time in excelling on faceoffs. Rust took a novel approach: "I got away from the game a little bit. Which was nice. Just recharged the batteries a little bit." He got married, too, and honeymooned in Europe. "That helped keep my mind off it, obviously," he continued. "I feel excited about this year. I'm ready."

• Rust was among four Penguins who got married this summer: Murray, DeSmith, and Erik Gudbranson also did so. "And Garrett Wilson, too," Murray reminded. Wilson signed with the Maple Leafs out of free agency.

• Murray on the Penguins moving on from last season: "It's something you have to heed the lessons from, I think, as a group. The way we handle it could be good for us. We're coming from a place where we got humbled last year, and we didn't play the right way. There's a lot of things we could learn from that. We could take one more good look at last year and learn from it, and then start to move forward and heed the lessons from it."

• Simon focused on his shot in his offseason workouts and seems confident heading into this season. More on him later this week.

• It's hard to get a real feel for where guys are during these drills, but Malkin was looking fast in what we did see. Here he is with a rocket of a shot, too:

• Johnson was the only player sporting a different number. He'll be wearing Olli Maatta's old No. 3. "Just a number I've worn since I was a kid," he explained. "When I got here, all the good numbers were taken." He meant Maatta's 3 and Matt Cullen's 7, the only two he'd worn in the NHL before coming to Pittsburgh. Upon joining the Penguins last summer, he was offered No. 77 by equipment manager Dana Heinze. "Uh, no thanks," he recalled telling Heinze. That, of course, was Paul Coffey's when here.

• Letang was sporting a different haircut, shorter on the sides and in the back. But as he showed Matt Sunday, the flow still persists.

• If a player works out and doesn't post about it on Instagram, did it really happen? Yes.

• There was a second informal skate for prospects and some Wilkes-Barre/Scranton players. Justin Almeida, who had offseason shoulder surgery, and Niclas Almari, who was injured in Saturday's Prospects Challenge game, wore red no-contact sweaters. Kasper Bjorkqvist was in a regular sweater, an encouraging sign as he continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

• While the Wilkes-Barre guys were walking around in their workout clothes, I told Sunday that it looked like Adam Johnson may have put on a bit of muscle. Sunday disagreed. Either way, he's still on the lanky side. Here he is scoring on Dustin Tokarski during the second skate:

• Nobody needs to question Bjorkqvist's gains, though.


[caption id="attachment_885285" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Penguins informal practice, Cranberry, Pa., Sept. 10, 2019 -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

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