Over the past week, Panthers forward Jack Skille (right) has been working out with members of the Penguins at Iceoplex in Southpointe. A former teammate of Penguins right winger Craig Adams with the Blackhawks, he has found a temporary "home" in Pittsburgh during the lockout due in part to his significant other being from the area.
Today, he talked after practice about playing for Rosenborg Elite of Norway's Get Ligaen with Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland, the lockout and its impact on the Panthers' market in Southern Florida.
Why are you practicing with the Penguins players?
"It kind of started in Norway when I was playing with Deryk Engelland. Just kind of talking about what his plan was when he was coming back (to North America). He said the guys here had a good skate. My girlfriend is from the area. Her family and friends are from here. She wanted to visit them. I just kind of texted a couple guys. They welcomed me with open arms. It’s been good so far."
What are the games like in Norway?
"It’s just different. A bigger ice sheet. A lot more of a skill game than anything. Not as physical. I think Engelland and I were both playing roles we weren’t used to so there was a bit of an adjustment period. Towards the end of my last couple of games, I started to get the hang of it, I started consistently racking up points. I think it was a confidence booster for me and I’m sure it was for Engelland."
Was it a bigger adjustment on or off the ice in Norway?
"Norway was a really good country as far as everyone speaking English. The people were great. Everyone was so nice and willing to help out. Especially the small things like going to a grocery store. You could be lost. Everything was in a different language. They would help you out. The food is relatively the same. The only real adjustment was the time and the hockey (style)."
What is your reaction to the last two days of talks between the NHL and NHLPA?
"I think we’ve all learned to hope for the best and prepare for the worse through this experience so far. That’s where I’m at. It sounds like it was positive between the players and the owners there. This being my contract year personally, I’d like to play a few games. I know a lot of guys around the league are in the same boat."
The Panthers generated a lot of excitement in South Florida last season after reaching the postseason for the first time in over a decade. Are you concerned the lockout could negate some of that off-ice growth?
"Certainly. Florida is a place where there’s a lot going on outdoors. People I’m sure have found other things to do with their time. But I do know there are people out there who want to get this thing started. Those are true fans. We don’t want to lose that fan base because it got really exciting towards the end there. And I know the owners don’t want that either."
(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)