Crosby’s touch evident as Penguins open new arena

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Visiting players who grumbled for years about the Civic Arena’s tiny dressing room, where each player’s area was designated by a hook in the wall, will rejoice at the much more expansive room at Consol.

What kind of hockey arena will it be? Even the Penguins aren’t certain yet, though they quickly learned during the preseason that the boards are much livelier than those at the Civic Arena, which was known as Mellon Arena for 10 years until reverting to its original name this summer after a naming rights agreement expired.

“Some of the hesitation about it being so nice and so luxurious has gone away, but it won’t completely go away until we win some games there,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “I love the energy in the building so far. But winning games and making this a home-ice advantage and having teams not want to play here, we still have to build.”

The Penguins themselves have a different look since they failed to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in three seasons last spring. They brought in expensive new defenseman Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek after defenseman Sergei Gonchar signed with Ottawa, and forward Bill Guerin wasn’t brought back. They also added valuable role-player forwards Mike Comrie and Arron Asham; Comrie, for now, replaces the injured Jordan Staal on the second line. Malkin previously centered that line but is shifting to a wing.

Staal, arguably the NHL’s best No. 3 center during his four-year career, still hasn’t recovered from an infection in his right foot that developed after a tendon was cut during the Montreal series. He isn’t expected back until November at the earliest.

The new building will be waiting when he does return.

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