Gorman: Bruins' Krug has roots in Western Pa.
Torey Krug's family won't just be traveling from Livonia, Mich., to watch him play against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
They will be taking a trip down memory lane.
The Boston Bruins rookie defenseman, who set an NHL record by scoring four goals in his first five Stanley Cup playoff games, has roots in Western Pennsylvania.
“I just remember being down at the Igloo. It was a pretty neat place. It was relatively new at the time,” said Kyle Krug, Torey's father. “The transformation of that town is just absolutely incredible from when I was there in the late 1970s to now.”
The family moved from Detroit to Westmoreland County in 1977, when Krug's paternal grandfather left his job at a Chevrolet plant for one with Volkswagen. The Krugs moved to a house on White School Road, near the Greensburg and Latrobe border, across from the old Mountain View Inn. It was about a mile from St. Vincent College, where Torey's parents, Kyle and Cheryl, were married in August 1980 in the shadow of Steelers training camp.
The Krugs got to rub elbows with Penguins coaches and players through their friendship with Matt Sciarrino, a North Versailles native whose father owned the Irwin Chrysler-Plymouth auto dealership in North Huntington.
Sciarrino's father loaned cars to then-Penguins coach Johnny Wilson and left winger Brian “Spinner” Spencer, allowing the kids to get to know their heroes. Sciarrino remembers Krug's uncle, Carey, as “an exceptional hockey player.”
“I looked up to the Krug family,” said Sciarrino, who lives in Dallas. “Not only was Carey really, really good, but he had two older brothers that we would watch play, and they played at a higher level than the kids they played against. They were legit, man. You could tell they were a true hockey family.”
Carey and Mike Krug even wore the Penguins' old uniforms while playing for their midget teams.
“For a kid my age — I idolized those guys — it was kind of neat,” said Carey Krug, who scored 10 goals in a game at Monroeville Mall. “Hockey was so brand new at that point. It was in its infancy. Everything was about the Steelers. We came in, and I remember being at a game, and I don't know if it's the right terminology — this was a 10-year-old mind — but Gordie Howe was skating, and people were saying, ‘Get this old guy off the ice!' We like to say we had a hand in making hockey better there.”
The passion for hockey was passed down to Kyle's sons after the Krug brothers were passed over by the NHL, presumably because of their height.
Kyle and Carey are cofounders of and skill instructors for Next Level Player Development. Adam coaches in the USHL, and Matt, who played at Robert Morris, is still in the minor leagues.
Torey is a different story.
Generously listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, he has made an amazing impact on the Bruins. Three of his goals came on the power play, results of his wicked slap shot. The other came on a dazzling display of skating and stick-handling, catching the puck on his blade between his legs and wrapping it around his left skate before beating New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a snapshot.
“It was pretty emotional,” Kyle Krug said. “It was overwhelming, actually, to see that he was able to compete against players that caliber. That whole series was pretty special. All I could say was, ‘Wow.' ”
It was years in the making.
“It's finally about time we got a Krug to go where we all wanted to go,” Carey said. “He takes a little bit of everything from everyone in the family.”
A family that has long considered itself “real hockey people,” one that preaches playing the geometry, or angles, of the game.
“It's kind of ironic, in a certain way, that me and my brothers played for the Junior Penguins,” Carey Krug said. “We spent five years of our lives there, and now we're going to be coming into town to watch them Saturday and Monday. It's going to be fun. Of course, we want Boston to win. We want Torey to win.”
To those who remember the Krugs and their impact on youth hockey in Western Pennsylvania three decades ago, he already has.