They’re people, too.
OK, full disclosure, I’ve talked with Bennett and Scuderi inside the Penguins locker room before.
But as a first-year beat guy — heck, it was my first week on the job — I figured this would be a good chance introduced myself to some of the players, talk a little away from the rink, etc.
Turned out to be quite an experience. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
Got to watch all three interact with kids, parents, the media, all in one.
Zatkoff sat on a bench laughing at all the kids toting iPhones. He meticulously double-checked spellings of names.
“G-R-I-F-F-I-N, right?” Zatkoff asked one kid.
Bennett drew the biggest crowd I saw — to be fair, we talked to Scuderi in the middle of the ongoing youth camp, not after — and he patiently signed sticks, pucks and jerseys while also posing for countless pictures.
He’s 22 years old. The patience I had at that age would have gotten me through, oh, about two or three minutes. Later, Bennett talked about shopping at Whole Foods and how he apparently stinks at cooking.
Zatkoff slipped out of his Penguins warmups to a pair of jeans underneath — how he skated in jeans, I’ll never know — put on a pair of flip-flops and walked alone to his car.
He, like me, worried about awful Pittsburgh traffic on the Parkway West.
Give credit to Bennett. Like I said, I didn’t stay for all of Scuderi’s visit, but I’m willing to bet Bennett was the most participatory. He took part in drills, played in a scrimmage and even got stoned on a breakaway.
Zatkoff laughed when I asked whether Bennett’s performance created an expectation he would try to live up to.
No way, Zatkoff said.
“I said from the beginning that I wasn’t hopping in any of the shooting drills,” Zatkoff said. “I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I’m just sticking with the goalies. I tried to stay in the corner by the goalies, now have to show off too much of my forward skills.”
Scuderi drove the whole real-people thought home for me.
Talk about an offseason all you want. The middle of August means that Scuderi and his wife, Courtney, are dangerously close to sending the kids back to school — and that’s a big deal for any parent, hockey player or not.
“Once your kids get to a certain age, it’s tough to stay away for so long,” said Scuderi, whose big summer vacation was a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. “When we were here in Pittsburgh last time, we came back early just because more of your life is here. You’re here for nine to 10 months of the year. This feels more like home than my home. It’s a great place to come back. We fit in great with the neighborhood. We love the town. We love the area. It’s not like anyone’s twisting my arm to come back.”