Penguins Learning the Bounces of Their New Home

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 25: A general overview of Consol Energy Center before the start of play between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks on September 28, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Penguins have had a tougher preseason than the rest of the NHL.

In addition to doing the usual preseason stuff, the Penguins have also had to get used to their new arena, Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins have gone from playing in the Igloo, which was built in 1961, to an arena that’s now state-of-the-art.

The players have been trying to figure out how to play the boards, while ice technicians are trying to figure out the ice.

So basically, everyone is starting over, to a certain extent.

It’s also interesting to see how important a new arena can be to a team.

Tom McMillan, vice president of communications, said a new arena can be a recruitment tool: “A team can’t spend more on players than the salary cap allows, but there was no cap on making this a first-class facility for our players.”

You have to wonder what a team like the Islanders, that’s desperately trying to replace an outdated arena, thinks about that statement.

The lack of a modern facility might not be the only factor in the Islanders’ difficulties in attracting free agents, but it’s certainly something potential free agents consider in signing (or more likely, not signing) with them.

It’s pretty amazing that just 10 years ago or so, it seemed like the Penguins might not exist in Pittsburgh for very long.

Miraculously, they survived bankruptcy, got a new arena built, and even won a Stanley Cup along the way.

On the one hand, I understand when people get upset about NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman leaving teams in failing markets.

But looking at the Penguins, you do have to acknowledge that teams sometimes turn things around, against all odds.

The Console Energy Center will be a nice reminder of that. Arena? Not so much.