Pens Points Friday: Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's to West Point We Go

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Your daily source of Pens and NHL news. All six preseason games completed, the Pens head to West Point for some team building and army-style training. Alex Ovechkin to start Olympic torch relay this weekend in Greece and be back on ice for opening night. Panthers expected to announce new ownership and a 1-year deal with Tim Thomas. Get to know Bill Daly.

Last spring, just before playoffs started, Michael Rosenberg wrote a cover story on Sidney Crosby for Sports Illustrated. It referenced a training camp trip to West Point in Ray Shero's first year as the Pens GM:

Shortly after becoming the Penguins' G.M. in 2006, Shero decided to take his team on a training camp trip. He whittled his list of possible destinations down to two: West Point, N.Y., or Orlando. Eventually he picked West Point, and the Penguins spent six hours in Army-style training. "We're in the middle of the jungle, basically, and there is an overturned jeep. And these eight guys per team have to figure out how to get it onto four wheels," Shero recalls. "It's teamwork: You do this, you do this, you do this.... Guys are getting under it, trying to figure it out. And I'm watching Sidney Crosby, at my first training camp, and I'm thinking, This f------ jeep is going to fall on his head, and I'm going to get fired. This is the stupidest thing we've ever done." Afterward, the Penguins were so tired that they did the unthinkable: They turned down pizza and beer at their hotel to go to bed. The next day's practice would be canceled. But when Shero asked Crosby, "What do you think next year—West Point or Orlando?" Crosby replied, "We've got to come back here."

Indeed the Pens went back to West Point the following year, but haven't been back since, so the timing is perfect for another visit. They had a day off Thursday and will be at the United States Military Academy at West Point from today through Sunday. Their stay will be a combination of leadership and team-building activities, army-style training and hockey practices. They will hold three public practices at Tate Rink, home of the Army Black Knights: Friday at 2 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. The West Point Academy and the Pittsburgh Penguins are a mutual admiration society, and in the words of Army head coach Brian Riley: "Our hope is their next visit will be with the Stanley Cup next spring". Great stuff. Go Army. Go Pens.

As expected, Alex Ovechkin will travel to Greece this weekend to start the Olympic torch relay. He will be the first carrier of the torch that will make its way to Sochi over the next couple of months. He is expected back in Washington Sunday, plans to practice with his teammates on Monday and be in the Capitals lineup on Tuesday when they open the season against the defending champs in Chicago.

This is the best piece I've read yet on why fighting in hockey needs to be history. For the record, I'm a fan of good, clean, straightforward fighting, but I don't watch hockey because it exists in it and it won't bother me one bit if current institutionalized violence disguised as part of a sport went away altogether.

An interesting piece on NHL's deputy commissioner Bill Daly. He could very well be the next commish, so get to know the guy. Daly is a straight shooter and I like that about him. He got a lot of flak for the "hill we'll die on" soundbite, but he looks like someone I'd like to talk hockey with over beer. It'd have to be Belgian, though. I don't do light beer.

In what is a decisive league win over players in regards to RFA status, Toronto signs Cody Franson for 1 year $2M, and New York Rangers signed Derek Stepan to a 2-year extension worth $6.2M. So maybe bridge deals aren't dead yet.

The Florida Panthers are expected to announce new ownership today as well as a deal with Tim Thomas. It is a 1-year deal worth between $3-4M. Apparently the terms of the deal have been agreed upon and they just want to announce it in concert with the new ownership. This now effectively resolves ownership issues in Phoenix, New Jersey and Florida.

As a result of the above development, Jose Theodore is out in Florida, but reports claim three teams are checking in with him: Pittsburgh, Nashville, and San Jose. As far as Pittsburgh is concerned, I honestly think Shero is just keeping up on available options if it becomes obvious that Vokoun will be sidelined for a long time. Theodore's best years are behind him, and I don't see this being a realistic development for the Penguins.

Check out the possible logos for the funniest-named 2013 fantasy hockey teams, like Letangry Birds and Crosby, Staal & Nash.

I just want to go to bed and wake up on October 3 when the Pens drop the puck at Consol!

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