PITTSBURGH — Tanner Pearson had a whirlwind 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday morning. On his way to the rink in Los Angeles, he got the trade call. The struggling left winger who has just one point in 17 games this season had been acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It was a pretty crazy day yesterday. I found out on my way to the rink. Pulled a quickie. We went back home and started packing up the house. I was able to get a lot done, which was nice,” said Pearson who will wear No. 14. “Flying here, the time change, it was a pretty long day.”
It was a long day for everyone, indeed as the Penguins PR staff introduced themselves to Pearson after he spoke with the crowd of reporters waiting anxiously around his new locker stall. The Penguins off-ice team needed headshots and the media needs. The Penguins began making news early yesterday and it didn’t cease until after the sun went down (though in fairness that’s a bit earlier this month).
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will have a simple approach to inserting Pearson into the lineup, “We don’t want him to overthink it.”
“We’re not going to fill his head with too much information. We want him to trust his instincts and play,” Sullivan concluded.
Pearson, 26, is off to the worst start of his career as Los Angeles has stumbled from the beginning. L.A. head coach John Stevens was relieved of his duties last month and Person has just a lonely assist in 17 games this season.
“I know it wasn’t a start that we all wanted and you know especially personally but you hope a change of scenery kind of refreshes things and you know I can get back to my game,” Pearson said.
In the Penguins room, Pearson knows only Jamie Oleksiak. The pair played for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior tournament. Pearson was passed over as an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old in the NHL draft. Los Angeles made him their first round pick in 2012 (held in Pittsburgh) as a 20-year-old late bloomer.
Pearson helped the Kings win the 2013-14 Stanley Cup when he skated on a line with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. The line was famously nicknamed “That 70’s Line,” as all players wore numbers in the 70s.
Everyone will need to wait to find out where Pearson will fit into the lineup, as Penguins captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby will be out of the lineup Thursday against Tampa Bay. Sullivan said he felt Crosby would be out about one week. So for now, the Penguins will need their new acquisition to be part of the offense-by-committee approach to replacing Crosby.