Pens give Mike Comrie 'great opportunity'

The voice on the other end of the phone says, "Hi, it's Mike Comrie of the Pittsburgh Penguins."

Then he laughs.

"That's the first time I've said that," Comrie told ESPN.com on Friday afternoon, not long after he signed a one-year deal with the Penguins worth $500,000.

It's been an interesting summer for Comrie, who wed actress Hilary Duff a couple of weeks ago, and the Pens. Pittsburgh added a skilled forward who can do a little bit of everything and may end up doing a lot more than a little as the Pens set their sights on another Stanley Cup run.

Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar, a pillar along the Penguins' blue line the past few years, left via free agency and was essentially replaced by Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek (Comrie's old teammate in Phoenix).

Veteran forward Bill Guerin wasn't invited back as GM Ray Shero chose to add some depth up front with former Flyer Arron Asham and Comrie to round out what should once again be one of the most formidable lineups in the Eastern Conference.

Comrie, who scored 30 goals in the first season after the lockout for Phoenix and then went on to play for the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup finals in 2007. The Edmonton native played for two years on Long Island and then spent the last part of the 2008-09 season back in Ottawa before appearing in just 43 games for the last-place Edmonton Oilers last season.

Comrie said he is excited about what lies ahead in Pittsburgh.

"You look at the roster with all those elite players," he said. "It's a great opportunity and a great challenge."

With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, et al, if you're getting ice time, you're going to get chances to score.

Comrie will turn 30 next weekend and hasn't appeared in a postseason game since the 2007 run, during which he played with an injured shoulder yet still appeared in 20 postseason games. That playoff drought will almost certainly end for Comrie next spring and goes a long way toward explaining why he signed on for significantly less money than he earned earlier in his career.

"As a player that's what you live for, a chance to win the Stanley Cup, to try and get back to that level, to try and give yourself that challenge," Comrie said.

The Penguins got good reports on Comrie from his former GMs and they hope he'll be able to fill in, perhaps as a third-line center, perhaps picking up some power-play time. With Staal set to miss the start of training camp while rehabbing from the sliced tendon in his foot sustained in the second round of the playoffs, Comrie's early role may be even more enhanced.

Whatever it is, Comrie said he's up for it.

And when you're an NHL player and you still happen to be the second-most famous person in your house, we were forced to ask the mandatory question about his new bride. He laughed politely at the idea that he wasn't being pestered by just hockey writers, what with Hollywood paparazzi and the like, but Comrie said he tries to keep the line between his work life and private life clearly defined.

"When you're in a situation where you're in the public eye, you try not to let it effect you," he said. "For me, I'm concerned with hockey, and when I'm away from the rink, I'm concerned about my life."