Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scuderi Loves Fans' Reaction to Penguins

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scuderi Loves Fans' Reaction to Penguins

Article excerpt

It's not that Rob Scuderi didn't enjoy his four years in Los Angeles.

And why wouldn't he have?

The veteran defenseman had a high-paying job in a place with terrific weather, and some world-class talents for co-workers.

And then there was that Stanley Cup ring he earned in 2012.

But now that he is back with the Penguins -- the team with which he began his NHL career and with which he won his first Cup -- Scuderi can appreciate how the atmosphere is a bit different than he experienced in California.

And it has nothing to do with dew points or smog.

Hockey interest in Western Pennsylvania might not be quite on the level of, say, Montreal or Toronto -- places where the psychological well-being of an entire region seems linked to the success of its NHL franchise -- but the Penguins fan base has become as passionate as it is large.

"Besides the geographical differences and weather and stuff like that, I think [the Penguins] are a little higher on the food chain here," Scuderi said Tuesday.

"I thought Los Angeles hockey, in terms of the overall scope of the sport, picked up a lot during my four years there, but, overall, it's still lower on the food chain than basketball, and even the Dodgers when they get good.

"It's a little bit different here in Pittsburgh. There's a little more intensity around it, a little more expectation. Sometimes, it's kind of nice to come back to a place where you know it's going to mean a lot from day one, and that the people expect a lot from day one."

Scuderi, signed as a free agent in July, was one of 20 Penguins players and prospects who participated in an informal workout Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.

Before leaving as a free agent in 2009, he spent three full seasons and parts of two others with the Penguins, during which time the franchise was based in Mellon Arena.

Scuderi spoke fondly of the quirkiness and character of that building -- reminiscing, for example, about how smoke used in a pregame ceremony there could linger until deep into the first period -- and said that the move into the Consol Energy Center is one of the few major differences from his first stint.

"The new arena is a beautiful place, unbelievable facility," he said. …

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