Olli Maatta wasn’t wearing a red jersey, as the Penguins opened training camp at Consol Energy Center Friday.
But Maatta was wearing an ear-to-ear smile, his surgically repaired shoulder causing him no pain or limiting him in any way.
“Shoulder’s feeling good,” Maatta said. “It’s getting better. When I got the surgery, I wouldn’t have thought it would be this good. It hasn’t bothered me as much as I was expecting it to. I had a pretty good summer, even though I had the sling on for two months.”
Maatta had shoulder labral repair surgery on May 22, and the timetable he was given was 4-6 months.
First-year coach Mike Johnston said Thursday that Maatta would wear a red jersey and absorb “limited or controlled contact” to open camp, though Maatta didn’t appear limited in any way; when the team closed practice with a three-on-three scrimmage between the blue lines, Maatta was a full participant.
“I was good for that,” Maatta said. “We just got to do some drills that I can do.
“I’m trying to be out there with the team as much as I can.”
Maatta enjoyed a breakout rookie season last year, totaling nine goals and 20 assists in 78 games. At times, especially now, Maatta admitted he was nervous. Not so much anymore.
“I’m not as nervous, for sure, but still excited about the season,” Maatta said. “I still come here to earn my spot. I want to show the new coaching staff that I can play big minutes on this team.”
Maatta said he’s a little bit ahead of schedule but wants to remain cautious in his return. No word on his plans for the first preseason game Monday at home against Detroit or Oct. 9 at home against Anaheim. Still way too early for that.
“With this, you don’t want to rush it,” Maatta said. “You want to make sure it’s full prepared when I get back. I’d rather miss a couple games now than lose another four months.”
>>Count Kris Letang among those who enjoyed what he saw so far of Mike Johnston’s system, even if it was a bit heavy on the skating.
“High-pace. I was surprised,” Letang said. “I don’t think you can get faster and harder than that. It was fun to see that. He bangs everything quick. He relies on us to be mature and make things right.”
>>>Believe it if you want, but Johnston said he found out about 30 minutes before Friday’s practice that Sidney Crosby would participate.
What Johnston saw of Crosby impressed him, along with pretty much anybody else watching.
“I was kind of surprised,” Johnston said. “I found out about a half-hour before practice that he was going to work his way through some drills. He stayed on basically until the last drill. I was kind of excited by that, to see that he was able to handle the drills.”
Links from Friday’s #TribHKY coverage
Our early story on Sidney Crosby rejoining the team for part of practice
Those third jerseys are, as forward Patric Hornqvist said, pretty “sick”
The rosters you’ll want to print and bring to Saturday’s open practices
Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
Notebook: Crosby practices, feels better
Finally healthy, Letang wants to make his presence felt as a leader
Be GRATEFUL to each other,