GERBE: I'M NOT GOING DOWN
The crowded house isn't going to faze Nathan Gerbe. He has a singular objective in his heart and soul:
Do whatever it takes to be one of the 12 forwards in Buffalo's opening night lineup.
"I'm not going back there ( to Portland )", he adamantly told me after his workout. "Its not going to happen. I'll play whatever position they want me to play. I'm not going down".
Period. End of subject.
Gerbe is hungry and he's ready to show his coach, GM, and teammates that he's a fulltime NHLer. He will not shy away from the contact in camp. "I'm ready, lets go".
No offense to Kevin Dineen. Gerbe feels like he has proven all that he can in the "A". His skill set makes him top of the food chain in that league, and he wants to emulate Chris Butler and change his permanently area code to the "716".
He and his buddy, Patrick Kane, were pounding pucks at Ryan Miller today like it was nobody's business. Gerbs and Kaner were the last off the ice. Typical Gerbe. first on. Last off. Too bad Max afinogenov isn't wired like Gerbe. 61 would play like Ovechkin if he had Gerbe's heart.
Gerbe told me that he's cognizant of the surplus of talent coming into camp. He knows full well that Paille, Kennedy, MacArthur, Kaleta, Ellis, and Mccormick are looking for jobs. Doesn't faze Gerbe in the least.
You can't go to camp to get into shape anymore. Soft-gutted players get waived for failure to arrive in mid-season form. Gerbe need not worry as he is in exceptional form. He arrived back to Buffalo last week, and he's been running and gunning with former BC bud, Andrew Orpik, and a whole host of NHLers who can smell the drop of the puck.
Gerbe has been working out at HSBC Arena with the boys and he's skating for a couple hours a day. Today, he was on his way back downtown to HSBC to lift for 90 minutes. then, he and the boys were joining andrew Peters for a round of 18 holes in nearby lockport.
Say what you will about Gerbe's physical size. NEVER question his heart or his resolve.
Pat Kane told me that his time at Team USA's Olympic Orientation camp in suburban Chicago was a good experience for him.
"I was impressed with all the talent we (USA) have. We skated a lot and worked on skills".
Kaner has plenty of giddy up and go, and he has the hands of a surgeon. he told me that Team USA Coach and GM Brian Burke are looking for one key contribution for #88:
"They want me to score. concentrate on scoring is what they told me. They are very intense hockey men, and I'm going to do my best to give them what thay want".
Kane heads back to ChiTown this weekend.
Like his buddy, Gerbe, Danny Paille is not buckling under the pressure of too many bodies at his position heading into camp.
"I know what I have to do. I fully expect to be here. I've been working out a lot this Summer, skating hard, and I know what's expected of me. I'm ready!"
Busy day at the rink today. Pittsburgh Penguin Jay McKee hosted his last shinny session for the Summer. For years now, Jay reserves the ice for he and his boys to skate their way back into playing form. he invites college kids, street guys, and NHLers to participate. He runs a tight ship, too. Today was no different as 74 was joined by Michael Peca, Andrew Peters, Clarke MacArthur, Dan Paille, Ryan Miller, Matt Ellis, Nathan Gerbe, Pat Kane, Chris Butler, Timmy Kennedy.
Summer's over and Jay's on the road again.
We spoke after the workout about his unbridled enthusiasm to be playing for the Penguins this season. All that sick talent--- Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Staal, Gonchar. Jay told me that he's most impressed with Pittsburgh's third and fourth line guys for their tenacious D and attention to detail. "The first two lines are unbelievable. But, when I watched the Playoffs this season, I saw huge efforts from the third and fourth lines... Kennedy, Talbot... those are underrated guys for sure."
I told Jay that my new nickname for him is "Norris". I told him that I expect him to be a +40 with 10 goals and 40 assists this season. He laughed, "yeah, right. Off the glass and out is all I'm concerned with".
74 hasn't skated with his new mates yet, however, he will be joining them next week. Jay and his wife are loading up the U-Haul and they are heading to The Burgh this weekend.
Jay loves that he's back in the East and he's right "down the road" from
" Why fly? It takes two hours and forty five minutes to drive it".
Jay and his wife are HUGE tennis fans. They play doubles together and they are damn good at it.
Jay told me that he and his wife were lucky enough to attend the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NYC on this week. They sat in on the Venus Williams match, and they were in awe of the sheer power that the pros exhibit.
"Awesome to be there and see it live! My wife and I play, and we are so impressed with the pro game. The serves are amazing. We sat right behind Roger, and he was literally in our lap--- I videotaped it and it was awesome!".
The McKees were treated to a special VIP action at the open. They were on the court with USTA #1 ranked stud, Roger Federer, and the memory will be seared in Jay's mind for decades to come. "It was unreal to see this guy up close. He gave me one of his rackets!"
Have a safe trip, Jay. You are an outstanding NHLer, and a better man.