Hearsay: Penguins’ Fleury seeing sports shrink

After a rough start, Marc-Andre Fleury settled in against the Jackets. (Photo: AP/Gene J. Puskar)
August 20, 2013, 12:34 AM

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FLEURY WORKING ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reveals Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is seeing a sports psychologist this summer, and coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged that Fleury’s mental approach must improve. But he still is the Penguins’ No. 1 goaltender.

“We all believe in Marc,” Bylsma said. “The mental part is an aspect for Marc and for our team. We know he’s a great goalie. He’s got great physical attributes. That’s a real strength for him. Marc has shown he can win a lot of hockey games. He can be that goalie. But I think the mental toughness, the mental approach, the mental side of the game is something that needs to be a focus, and not just in April.”

Enter Mike Bales, the team’s new goaltender coach, promoted from within the organization.  He realizes that resurrecting Fleury’s career is paramount.

“I can’t wait to get to know him better,” Bales said. “We will work together, and we will develop a relationship. It’s something that can’t be forced. It has to come naturally. And it will.”

KOMISAREK’S SLATE WIPED CLEAN WITH CANES

The Toronto Star suggests former Leaf Mike Komisarek is gearing up for a fresh start in Carolina. He signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes after being bought out by the Maple Leafs four years into a five-year deal.

“It’s amazing when people write you off, put you in a box and put a label on you,” said Komisarek. “It’s exciting to try to prove people wrong. I’ve had a great summer, new one born in May. Puts a different perspective on things.

“I’ve got that same sort of feeling I had when I was a rookie. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air, go down there and just play. Don’t worry about anything. No expectations. I feel like I’m going to my first training camp. A great fresh start for myself. A new beginning.”

HALAK FITTER, STRONGER FOR BLUES

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates a groin specialist in Philadelphia told Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak he would lessen the risk of re-injuring his groin if he significantly improved his lower-body strength.

The last three months have been a regimented schedule of weight training and cardio activity aimed at bolstering his legs and quads. In the meantime, Halak lost 14 pounds of body fat, dropping his percentage to 9.4, which is the best shape he’s been in since his arrival in 2010.

“Everything feels good,” Halak said. “I needed some time to heal it properly. Right now, I have no issues and hopefully it’s going to be this way.”

Coach Ken Hitchcock expects that it will be “all systems go” with Halak.

“I’ve run into him four or five times during the summer,” Hitchcock said. “He’s excited, he’s feeling healthy. Part of it was conditioning, but another part was strengthening that area.

“He’s a really young guy and you don’t want to have an injury-plagued career. So he wanted take the question marks out of it by having a really high fitness level. He’s done a really good job of finding that fitness level.”

RED WINGS, NYQUIST CLOSE ON CONTRACT

The Detroit News reflects on the fact that the Red Wings signed forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, and anticipate the return to health of forwards Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson. With those developments, the chances of Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary returning became slim.

Holland and restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist’s representatives have done a lot of talking the past few weeks and the sides are close to what will be either a one- or two-year contract.

BOYCHUK READY TO PROVE DOUBTERS WRONG

The Raleigh News & Observer notes restricted free agent Zach Boychuk could decide to go to Europe to play, but that’s an option he doesn’t care to discuss in much detail.

“I think things will work itself out,” Boychuk said. “I’m trying to show that I want to stay in North America. I don’t want to labeled as a career minor-league guy who eventually goes to Europe.”

Boychuk returned to Raleigh much earlier than usual this year. He’s ready to work, on and off the ice, and ready to compete in training camp for a forward spot – whether on the first line, fourth line or anywhere else.

“I’m trying to make the NHL,” he said. “I want to be a full-time player. I was a high draft pick and got opportunities at a young age, probably when I wasn’t 100 percent ready and 100 percent mature. Now I feel I have to prove some people wrong and hopefully I can do that this year.”

PANTHERS ALREADY HURTING

The Miami Herald projects that at least three veteran Florida Panthers players — Kris Versteeg, Ed Jovanovski and Sean Bergenheim — likely will be limited when the first practice is held Sept. 12.

Versteeg (knee) and Jovanovski (hip) are expected to miss the start of the season; Bergenheim (hip/abdominal muscle) could be ready to play after a few weeks of camp.

Florida also could limit the likes of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (shoulder) and center Drew Shore (wrist) early in camp. Both had surgery when the season ended and have been working in South Florida.

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