Penguin players had their exit meetings today with coaches and met with the media for the final time of the season.
The only players who didn’t speak with the media were Steve Downie, Thomas Greiss, Paul Martin, and Craig Adams. None of the four are expected to return in 2015-2016.
There was a similar theme as there always is. Nearly everyone toes the company line and publicly says they want to return, love it in Pittsburgh and that the team is close to winning a Stanley Cup.
“We proved we have a good team, played well,” Nick Spaling said.
“I thought throughout the year we did a lot of really good things,” Brandon Sutter said. “Transformed way we played. Played really well defensively. Thought our game was sharp. Just unfortunate it ended in five games.”
Pending UFA’s Christian Ehrhoff, Daneil Winnik, Max Lapierre, and Blake Comeau all said they wanted to return, and even Beau Bennett, a restricted free agent whose career in Pittsburgh is at a cross-roads and had another coaching staff show they don’t believe in him, went out of his way to profess his love for Pittsburgh.
“I love playing in this city and I love playing for this team,” Bennett said.
“I love playing here,” Blake Comeau said. “I love this city.”
“I would love the opportunity to come back,” pending RFA Ian Cole said.
“Love” is always a common word from players at these every year. Other than Jordan Staal in 2012 pretty much putting it on a platter that he was looking to move on, comments about wanting to stay can be taken with a grain of salt.
Max Lapierre, though, was pretty confident that he’ll be back.
“We’re going to find a way to make it work,” Lapierre said.
The headliner today for professing his love for playing in Pittsburgh was Evgeni Malkin.
As speculation from some in the media close to Malkin have hinted the Penguins star center is frustrated and could eventually want out, the 28 year old center didn’t take the bait.
“I like this city,” Malkin said. “I’d like to stay here. I have a house here. My parents love to stay here. We won one time [a Stanley Cup]. Me and Sid, and Flower, I believe we can do it again.”
Malkin’s comments had the Penguins on their official website run with the headline “Crosby, Malkin want to be Penguins for life.”
Malkin like many players today indicated he believes the Penguins have a championship type team.
“I like it. It’s a good group,” Malkin said. “We stay together all throughout the playoffs….. We have a good team but we played against the best team in the League.”
Sidney Crosby who will suit up for Canada in the World Championships for the first time since 2006, didn’t sound like a player too frustrated or upset with the current situation, though, Crosby being the class-act he is, his comments will be to always toe the company line no matter how frustrated he could be with where things are headed.
When it comes to the Penguins playoff disappointments, Crosby took the stance today of how difficult it is to win a Championship.
“Having not been there for a while I think you understand that it’s tough to get there,” Crosby said.
“I’ve said it before; when we lost in ’08 [Cup Final] I didn’t expect to get back there the next year. You want to, but you have to earn it. It’s a long road and you need a lot of things to go right to get there.
“This is where I want to be,” Crosby said. “The expectations are high and they haven’t changed. It’s the same. This is where I want to be. It’s tough, obviously, when you lose and you don’t like it, but that’s the process sometimes. You need to go through those types of things and it’s not always easy. So more than happy to be here and find ways to win.”