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Roenick: Outdoor Games Still 'One Of The Coolest Things' In NHL

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- NBC Sports' Jeremy Roenick took time to join "The Fan Morning Show" on Thursday to talk about the Penguins before they head outdoors at Heinz Field Sunday for a rivalry game matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The NHL implemented the outdoor games into the regular season schedule the year after Roenick retired and he wishes he had the opportunity to play in one.

"I do think it's one of the coolest things that the NHL has created," said Roenick. "It brings us back to the old days of playing outside when you're a kid and you know, your toes are frozen and your nose is chapped. My mom had to ring a cowbell for me to come home late at night, so it just reminds me of a lot of fun stuff playing under the fresh air and under the blue sky at some point. I think everybody should have the opportunity to play in one."

Some believe that the NHL outdoor games have lost their luster over the past few years. However, Roenick doesn't believe that the NHL is going overboard with the outdoor games and says they are playing it just right.

"One year there were like five [outdoor games] a few years back and I think that was way too many," said Roenick. "I think two or three is sufficient, I don't like to dilute a great product. I think the NHL over the past couple years has kept it to that two or three minimum, which I think people still get really excited. I think we hit enough markets, as long as I think we can get all 30 markets to have one at some point I think that's really important, too and maybe a neutral site game that will allow more fans to enjoy the spectacle that the NHL puts on."

As far as the Penguins, Roenick gives Patric Hornqvist a lot of credit for his physical work in front of the net and says he fills a need that every team has.

"Every team needs that agitator, every team needs that guy that's hard to play against, that gets in the head of another teammate or another team, that has that ability to frustrate a goaltender and doesn't care what anybody thinks of him and that's Patric Hornqvist," said Roenick. "He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played, he plays it with grit, he plays it with passion and I think he challenges his own teammates. I've seen him arguing with Sidney [Crosby] on the bench when they don't agree, I see him challenging his defense to be better. I have a great deal of appreciation for Hornqvist and the way that he plays and the pounding that he gives and the pounding that he takes and he's successful because of it."

Roenick also believes that, despite his tendency to take head-scratching penalties, opponents cannot get into Evgeni Malkin's head very easily.

"You're not going to get into Geno's head," said Roenick. "Geno's going to fight back, he's going to battle back, he's so strong mentally and such a good hockey player, he'll laugh at you. I think you waste your time if you try to [rattle him], he knows when to battle back and fight back and retaliate, but he also knows when to stay poised and controlled."

Oh, and remember when Roenick and former Penguin, now broadcaster Phil Bourque got into a public spat with each other? Roenick says they are back to being friends now.

"We had a 'coming to Jesus' last year during the Finals," said Roenick with a laugh. "He came up to me and shook my hand and we had a nice little laugh and he really is a great guy. You know, you can argue with someone and still get along and 'Bourquey' is a great man and he was loved by his teammates and no hard feelings between the two of us."

You can hear the entire interview with Jeremy Roenick of NBC Sports on the "Fan Morning Show" below.

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