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Derick Brassard Eager To Thrive After Bad Timing With Illness



Penguins trade Derrick Brassard
Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire

Derick Brassard gets that the timing stunk.

“I worked all summer and the last couple weeks before training camp to get ready for the first day, and I get sick for four or five days,” he said Wednesday after skating with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates for the first time during camp, which started Friday. “I was a little frustrated.

“But it is what it is. I’m going to work hard and try to come back to game shape. It was good to have a full practice with the team.”

Brassard, acquired in February from Ottawa, was looking forward to his first training camp with the Penguins, including a three-team tournament of scrimmages over the first four days.

But then he fell ill. He described it as a “chest infection, lung infection, bad fever and chills for a couple days. But now I’m past it.

“It’s just the lungs. I feel good (on the ice). I just get tired a little quickly.

“I put in some work this summer to get back to 100 percent, and to get sick like that a little before training camp, like I said, I was a little frustrated.”

Now he’s ready to play catch-up as fast as his body will allow.

“(Thursday) we have a day off. I think I’m going to re-energize as much as I can, and I’m probably going to play one of those games this weekend,” he said.

The Penguins have afternoon home games Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday’s game at Detroit is out of the question.

“I wish I could have played some of those scrimmage games, but I’m going to have to try to figure it out (my) first preseason game.”

‘He’ll Be Ready To Roll’

Assistant coach Mark Recchi is upbeat about Brassard’s preseason.

“I don’t think it’s a setback,” he said of Brassard’s illness. “He came in in shape. The good thing about it is we’ve got a good stretch before (the season). I would assume he would get two or three games before the regular season. He’ll be ready to roll.

“Just even the pace in practice (Wednesday), you could tell he was good. He was skating really well. I expect him to be at full gear.”

In another case of timing working against him, Brassard was still out sick when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan left the team after the death of his father last weekend. Sullivan is expected to return soon, and Brassard is eager to find out what the coaches want from him.

Will he remain at his natural position, center, or will he be asked to move to the wing because the Penguins are loaded down the middle? So far it hasn’t been too overcrowded because of Brassard’s illness an a nagging lower-body injury that has sidelined center Riley Sheahan. (Sheahan skated on his own Wednesday.)

“I think it’s a good thing,” Brassard said of the center depth. “We added some key pieces that can improve our team, and I’m all for it. We can have four really good lines and try and play a high-paced game. I’m going to try and do my best depending on where I’m going to play. Not sure about it yet.”

Brassard had three goals, eight points in 14 games after joining the Penguins, then one goal, four points in 12 playoff games. There was some thought that he wasn’t as dynamic as predicted.

It turns out, Brassard was dealing with a lower-body injury, which he said cleared up so that he could have a good offseason of training.

In addition, Brassard was a little hung up on the style of play that carried over from the Senators.

“I think you can be a little bit more free offensively (here) and express yourself,” he said. “Sometimes last year I was more on my heels, more passive in the offensive zone. I’m going to try to have a different mindset this year, to try to be more aggressive, trying to play more in the offensive zone and try to let myself loose out there.”

He’s looking forward to being healthy, and to finding out what’s wanted of him and complying.

“I’m open for it, whatever’s going to happen,” he said.

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Shelly is a columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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