For Penguins’ Jake Guentzel, superstar treatment could become norm
Jake Guentzel was going to be a star in the basement of the Dickson home in Mars on Monday afternoon no matter how many goals he scored last season.
As part of an annual September tradition for the Penguins, Guentzel delivered the family’s season tickets to their home Monday afternoon. His visit came on the heels of daughter Aila receiving a No. 59 Penguins jersey as a birthday gift. Needless to say, he received a hero’s welcome.
He appreciated the reception.
“Whenever you can deliver tickets to someone special who supports us throughout the year, the good and the bad, whenever you can do something like this, it kind of gets you a little excited for it,” Guentzel said.
But even among harder-to-please audiences, Guentzel will probably be given superstar treatment this season. That tends to happen for NHL players who join the 40-goal club like Guentzel did a year ago.
Guentzel remains humble about the accomplishment, practically crossing his fingers and knocking on wood in the hopes that his goal-scoring touch won’t abandon him.
“Just very fortunate last year,” Guentzel said. “Bounces were going my way and sometimes they’re going to go the opposite. You’ve just got to try to ride it as long as you can. A lot of the goals last year were bounces or just right on my stick. Things like that happen. I was just fortunate to have a good year like that.”
Another good year for Guentzel is practically a necessity for the Penguins at this point.
After trading away Phil Kessel in June, Guentzel moved one step closer to the top of the team’s offensive star-power depth chart. These days, he trails only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin among the team’s forwards.
That means more time on the power play and more responsibility to keep the team’s attack humming.
If it means a shorter offseason next summer, Guentzel will gladly shoulder whatever burden the coaching staff throws his way when training camp opens this Friday.
“It’s felt like forever,” Guentzel said. “We were talking about it earlier and it feels like forever since we’ve seen each other. To have everyone back, getting it rolling now this weekend, we’re all excited to get going. I think we all have that taste in our mouth. We’re not excited with how we went out. I think we’re ready for the season to go. You never know what can happen.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .