Prospects looking to lock on with Penguins
Rob Madore and Andrew Blazek can only hope their invitation to the Penguins' prospect development camp this week ends as well as it did for the two undrafted players the team invited last summer.
Paul Thompson and Brian Gibbons finished first and third in scoring, respectively, in Hockey East in 2010-11, and Thompson was named the association's player of the year. Both signed contracts with the Penguins this spring — Thompson out of New Hampshire and Gibbons from Boston College.
"It's extremely thrilling," said Madore, a senior goalie at Vermont and graduate of Peters Township. "You get to meet a lot of the guys, and it's really thrilling to be a part of an NHL organization for a week, especially one that you grew up following."
Blazek, a junior defenseman at Robert Morris, also followed the Penguins while attending Upper St. Clair.
Both played with the Pittsburgh Hornets amateur program, which Madore said has been a key part of the development of youth hockey in Pittsburgh.
"It's nice to have a team where you can ... get your name out there and show that a team from Pittsburgh can compete with the teams from Minnesota and teams from Chicago," Madore said.
He and Blazek agreed that the newly established Division I hockey program at Penn State will attract local talent and give players another option for staying closer to home rather than leaving for New England or the Midwest. The Penn State program begins play in 2012-13.
"It's a great school. It's a good education, and I think a lot of people want to stay in-state," Blazek said. "Everyone wants to go to Penn State, so having a hockey program there will be even better."
"My dad's from State College, so I grew up going to Penn State football games, and I think it's really exciting for kids from the area," Madore said, adding that he "absolutely" would have considered Penn State had the program existed when he applied to colleges.
Robert Morris has provided a destination for local players since establishing its program in 2003. The Colonials went 18-12-5 last year, finishing fifth in the 12-team Atlantic Hockey Association, with five Western Pennsylvania-born skaters on the team, including Blazek.
"The more and more Pittsburgh guys we get in, the more team pride we could have," Blazek said. "I think the younger kids are realizing more and more that you don't need to go to these big schools to do well."
Tom Fitzgerald, the Penguins' assistant to the general manager, said the Penguins pride themselves on finding players in unconventional ways, including invitations to camps like this. The purpose, he said, is to see if players like Madore and Blazek fit well with the organization.
"I really like to think (Penguins coach) Dan (Bylsma) says it best when he tells these kids, 'Look, we know what you can do. You're not trying out for the Penguins; we're trying you out.' I think that's the best approach to take for these guys," Fitzgerald said. "We know they can play. We're interested in them. You just want to see if the fit is something that can work out."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins’ Scuderi offers honest assessment of his 2013-14 performance
- Now healthy, Penguins’ Bennett eyes bigger role
- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby says aching wrist doing better