Penner in a cheery mood

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:40 PM ET

He was the Dustin Penner the local media didn’t see enough of during his time in Edmonton.

Engaging, articulate and funny.

Perhaps it’s the California sun that has brightened what could sometimes be a gloomy demeanour during his time with the Edmonton Oilers.

Winning has a habit of cheering up players as well.

Whatever the reason, Penner looked genuinely happy to be back in Edmonton to face the Oilers, a month after being traded away to the Los Angeles Kings

“Coming back in here, it still feels a bit like home, spending four years here and seeing all the familiar faces,” Penner said. “I got to see some of the equipment guys and some of the players. It’s a good feeling to be back less than a month later.”

It’s not surprising Penner has adapted quickly to his new environment, having started his career in Southern California with the Anaheim Ducks.

He’s back playing where he’s most comfortable, for a team that is currently occupying a playoff spot looking to go on a run during the post-season.

“Obviously from where I started there to where I am now, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable,” Penner said. “Whenever you get traded, there is a bit of a breaking-in period, especially when you’re going to a team that’s in the playoffs. It’s been a welcome change as in the different intensity you have. You’re in the playoff race and every game you are fighting for your life. I haven’t been a part of that in four years.”

In just under four years with the Oilers, Penner never came close to qualifying for the post season.

Most would argue the native of Winkler, Man., never came close to reaching his full potential either, which made him a target as the team floundered.

Now in Los Angeles, Penner has a chance to prove his critics wrong by helping a club that has recently lost it’s two top scorers due to injury.

“I think it’s awesome that we were able to get him,” said Kings defenceman Matt Greene, a former teammate of Penner’s with the Oilers. “He brings an element that not a lot of teams have. He’s a big forward that plays a skilled game. He has experience too, I think it’s great for us being able to pick him up and he’ll be able to give us some experience down the road.

“I think he’ll really be able to help us. I was excited when I heard about the deal. We lived together his first year here and we got along real well, we drove to the rink together every day. I consider him a real good friend and I really happy to be playing with him again.”

Heading into the game against the Oilers, Penner expected there to be some playful banter on the ice between himself and his former teammates.

He was not above taking some playful jabs at them following the morning skate.

“They have a lot of new guys by the looks of it,” Penner said. “Maybe I’ll get into it with Cogs (Andrew Cogliano). Hopefully I’ll be able to take a couple of draws against him and maybe get my percentage up.”

And when asked about possibly going up against Theo Peckham?

“I don’t know if I’ll have to screen the goalie in front of the net with that huge head of his,” smiled Penner. “No, he’s a good kid. I enjoyed my time here and all the friends that I made here.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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