PEI

P.E.I.'s Josh Currie looking to make quick impression on Pittsburgh Penguins

When the Pittsburgh Penguins open the NHL season in Philadelphia on Jan. 13, P.E.I.'s Josh Currie hopes to be along for the ride.

Training camp condensed due to COVID-19

Josh Currie skates Monday during the Penguins first official practice of the season. (Evan Schall)

When the Pittsburgh Penguins open the NHL season in Philadelphia on Jan. 13, P.E.I.'s Josh Currie hopes to be along for the ride.

But he only has a week to show he belongs.

The Penguins' condensed training camp officially began Monday, and Currie was among 40 players to receive an invitation. Normally there are up to 60 players, with an extended camp that includes exhibition games.

But because of COVID-19, there will be just seven practices and scrimmages before the final roster is set.

Pressure's on.

"You do obviously have less time to show what you got or what you bring to the table and having no preseason games, it makes it a little more difficult," he said.

I just have to go out and be a good person every day, work hard and just bring things that I'm good at on the ice and hopefully they'll like it.— Josh Currie

"It's more pressure but everyone else has to deal with it.... They have a pretty good idea or understanding of what you can do and they must like some things or else they wouldn't have signed me."

Currie is one of four Islanders in NHL camps this week — Zack MacEwen with the Vancouver Canucks and Ross Johnson and Noah Dobson with the New York Islanders.

Currie says he still sometimes gets star-struck being among the NHL's elite. (Evan Schall)

Currie, perhaps, has the most to prove. 

After a six-year career in the Edmonton Oilers organization in which he played 21 NHL games but spent most of the time with their minor league team in Bakersfield, Calif., he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Penguins.

Two-way contract

There is a lot of money on the line. If he makes the team, his salary will be about $700,000. If he is sent to the AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., it will be $350,000.

He said his approach will be the same as it has been since he was the captain of the Prince Edward Island Rocket eight years ago.

"I just have to go out and be a good person every day, work hard and just bring things that I'm good at on the ice and hopefully they'll like it," he said. 

"Just go every day and work hard and let the cards fall where they may."

Girlfriend, dog with him in Pittsburgh

Currie will have some support along the way. He and his girlfriend, Cierra Tompkins, and their cockapoo Paisley have been staying at a hotel in Pittsburgh together since just before Christmas.

Under NHL rules, Currie had to be quarantined for seven days and have four negative COVID-19 tests before he could join team activities.

Players must wear masks when they go to the rink, no more than 10 people are allowed in the gym at one time, and there are two spaces between each player in the locker room.

And while it's "very different" than past training camps, it still has the magic that comes with being among the NHL elite. Even at 28, Currie admits its still a thrill to see stars like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

"When I first watched him I was a young kid, like many young kids. He was a superstar, he was the face of the league. Just seeing him in person as compared to seeing him on TV … you do get a little star-struck and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't."

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