Sunday, August 31, 2008

Joe Sager Q & A


"The Confluence of the Three Rivers" blogger, Tony Ferrante, recently met with Joe Sager for a Q & A session.  Sager is the Penguins' Director of Content / Publication (he's also the host of PensTV on the Pittsburgh Penguins official webpage and is the co-host of the Penguins Hotline on WXDX "the X" (105.9 FM)).

Here is a question and Sager's answer about Penguins blogs / bloggers which I found pretty interesting, but to read all of the Q & A, visit "The Confluence of the Three Rivers."
TF: As you're probably aware, Penguins bloggers rate amongst the largest number of NHL blogs.  Penguins blogs such as the Pensblog, the Post-Gazette's Empty Netters, and the Faceoff Factor are regularly linked on dozens of NHL and general sports blogs, sometimes on a daily basis.  As a member of the online community yourself, how do you feel the Penguins view the blogosphere, and do the Penguins themselves visit Penguins blogs from time to time to get the fans perspectives ?? In addition, do they have any accommodations planned, perhaps in the new arena, for bloggers similar to the New York Islanders' special bloggers section ?? What blogs do you frequent ??
JS: I don't know if the Penguins visit any blogs.  I know they try not to read the papers or anything.  I know they do read my stories on the Penguins' website because they often compliment me or mention they saw my stories.  But, I never really asked them if they are into the blogs.  I am not sure if there will be any new accommodations planned in the new arena.  I do know there will be a more modern and larger pressbox.  Whether that means room for b loggers, I am not exactly sure.  There's a fine line there because anyone could say, "Hey I am a blogger, can I have a press pass?"  So, I would imagine eventually there will have to be some sort of regulation or guidelines set up for that sort of thing.  I generally don't frequent blogs.  But, I do check out the PensBlog and Empty Netters from time to time.  I usually don't have much downtime to surf the web at work and when I get home, to try to avoid reading about the NHL so I can preserve some sanity.  But, when I do check out the blogs, I usually enjoy what I see.  There is some really funny and creative stuff out there.

A Touching Tribute

Brian Metzer of hockeybuzz.com recently wrote quite a touching tribute to his father who gave him a love of hockey in "A Gift from my Father."

Metzer is a Penguins blog writer for hockeybuzz.com.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Score One for Life Blood Drive


The “Score One for Life” blood drive was held through August 28th at the USX Tower in Pittsburgh. The drive will continue in early September at the US Steel mill sites including Clairton, Edgar Thomson and Irvin Works.
All registered donors will receive a commemorative Penguins t-shirt.
Since 1992, the Pittsburgh Penguins have participated in this annual blood drive; these blood drives have collected over 9,450 units from 10,400 registered donors.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Photos of GREAT Penguins Memories!

The Pittsburgh Penguins webpage recently posted a collection of photos from the 2007-2008 season they've called, "Great Memories 2007-08"

Really AWESOME pictures (that really do bring back great memories of an awesome season) -- be sure to take a look!!


Former Penguin Announces Retirement

After 16 seasons in the NHL, Stu Barnes announced his retirement yesterday. His role with the Dallas Stars, a team on which he spent parts of his last five seasons with, will not end but be at a different capacity with his becoming the assistant coachof the team.

Seth from "Empty Netters" posted an interesting article on Barnes today saying that he was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins most successful decade in the 1990's and was one of the few still-active players who played for them during this time (the total dwindling now to 13). The focus of the article was one of nastalgia pointing out the fact that a little bit of that era goes with Barnes into his retirement. GREAT article!

Research Shows Pesonen Bleeds Black and Gold!

THANK GOODNESS for Vince over at "Pesonen and the Pens" blog or we wouldn't have these great little facts about Janne Pesonen and Pens nation would have no idea what he's about before he arrives for camp in a few weeks (he will be the best-known Pens player of all time)!!

Strangely enough, there are similar traits between the progression of his life of hockey (living in Finland) and coming to play for the Pens! He definitely has black and gold running through his veins -- logos for the Pens, his Karpat team, and the town in which he lives all have the common thread of black and gold -- so he was BORN to play with the Pittsburgh Penguins (or, perhaps, he was born a Pittsburgh Penguin)!!

HANG IN THERE, Vince!! Training camp is only a few weeks away and I'm certain there will be TONS to post on your blog about Janne then!! But until that time, I have faith that you will continue to amaze us with your hard-to-find Pesonen facts!

Playoff Beards Part of 2K Sports NHL 2K9

Greg Wyshinski (YAHOO!'s Puck Daddy) actually had a post yesterday about Sidney Crosby's playoff beard - well, not specifically. He posted an article about EA Sports upcoming release of their 2K Sports NHL 2K9 and their attempt to create a few "quirky innovations" like playoff beards (which would have them grow as a team moves through the playoffs and into the SCF - COOL!).

When Planet XBox 360 asked Ben Bishop, producer of the game, how much research the team had done on playoff beards for particular players, he replied:

Yeah, you know, we tried to take a look and it's definitely an area we want to do more in, but we didn't have the time to do. We were hoping to get different styles like [Sidney] Crosby not having a full beard. He only had a partial beard for awhile. So we wanted to get different stuff like that in but we didn't really have time. We ended up with having different levels depending on how far the team is along in the playoffs.


No Boot Camp for the Penguins to Start the Season

I can't confirm this but talk over at the LetsGoPens.com message board is that the Penguins won't be attending boot camp this year as in the previous 2 years. I, personally, think that it DID help the team bond -- not so much after the first year but the second year you could definitely see improvements (like wanting to defend their teammates, especially Sid)!!

Word is that it could be due to this years start to the regular season in Stockholm/Helsinki as well as the speculation that Sgt. JB Spisso has been deployed to Iraq.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It "Looks" Like the Philadelphia Flyers have a NEW Profession!!

Here is a recent screenshot taken from the Philadelphia Flyers WIKI page by the blogger of "Out of Left Field:"


Still not seeing what the big deal is (or maybe thinking you're not seeing it correctly)? Here's a CLOSER look at it (read carefully):



YES - it DOES say that!! Yes, I know, I found it quite amusing myself!

It appears that someone sabotaged the Philadelphia Flyers WIKI page which is an amazing feat considering how stringently they police the site (or maybe we should credit the blogger for getting the screenshot at just the right time) -- regardless, it's simply BRILLIANT!! This has already made YAHOO!'s Puck Daddy news, so I can see this being something that'll end up all around the internet shortly!!

A comment on the blog site about this post reports that the IP address from where the edits were made came from Toronto. I don't know alot about that side of computers / the internet, but I thought it was interesting! Supposedly, the screen was only up for a minute but I tend to agree with the blogger who is doubtful that he was that quick with spotting the page if it was only up for a minute.

USA Today Ranks Pittsburgh Penguins #3 (he didn't jinx us this year!)

USA Today writer, Kevin Allen, recently posted his pre-season power rankings (remember last year he ranked Pittsburgh #1 and no one understood how he came to that conclusion?).

This year he ranks Pittsburgh 3rd behind the Detroit Redwings and Montreal Canadiens. SUCK IT, Detroit -- you get the "Kevin Allen jinx" this year (too bad for you, Hossa)!!

Here's what he had to say about the Penguins:

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: I’m not sure I believe Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko can make up for the loss of Hossa and Ryan Malone. But I do believe that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can be among the scoring leaders even if they had a trained chimpanzee on their wing. The Penguins will be in the Stanley Cup mix as long as Crosby is captain.

Hockey's future 2008 Top 20 Penguins Prospects

Hockey's future also gives what they feel is the Top 20 Penguins Prospects for 2008:

  1. Alex Goligoski
  2. Carl Sneep
  3. Luca Caputi
  4. Dustin Jeffrey
  5. Brian Strait
  6. Tyler Kennedy*
  7. Alex Grant
  8. Casey-Pierro-Zabotel
  9. Nick Johnson
  10. John Curry
  11. Robert Bortuzzo
  12. Nathan Moon
  13. Jake Muzzin
  14. Keven Veilleux
  15. Joe Vitale
  16. Jonathan Filewich
  17. Ryan Stone
  18. David Brown
  19. Michael Gergen
  20. Nick D'Agostino

If you notice, they list Tyler Kennedy* as a prospect explaining that he "would have cemented his spot in the NHL if not for a bout with mononucleosis." I'm not sure what their mode of thinking is here, but I remember Kennedy having to sit out with mono in late January 2008 being reassigned to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton affiliate team for only a short time before returning to the Penguins lineup on February 14, 2008. He had played plenty of games with the Penguins since that time (even contributed in the playoffs - recording 2 assists on both goals in Game 4 of Philadelphia).

All of this plus the fact that he's absent from the official list of prospects attending camp and remains on the Penguins roster (after checking their webpage), makes me feel safe to say that Kennedy has a permanent spot in the NHL with the Penguins (so HOLD OFF on starting any rumors just yet)!!

Q & A with Ben Lovejoy

With the announcement of the upcoming prospects camp, I was looking for a little more information on a few of them and came across this prospects resource webpage called Hockey's future which I'm sure alot of you may already be familiar with. I've come across it before just browsing around the internet but I didn't realize some of the interesting information they have on the site.

For instance, they posted a Q&A with newly signed Ben Lovejoy recently. They preface the article with some background information about Lovejoy saying that he doesn't consistently score but is a solid defenseman with a good outlet pass and "will jump into the play if needed." Lovejoy himself admits on his blog that he isn't very consistent when it comes to scoring goals. The site goes on to say that his game got better as the season went on and ended up being the 3rd on his team among the defensemen with a total of 20 points. Really not too bad.

Here's a few of the questions here, but if you'd like to read the entire Q&A, visit Hockey's future:

Hockey's future (HF): Going into the 2008-09 season, what are your expectations? What aspects of your game do you plan on improving? Ben Lovejoy (BL): I expect to go to camp and try to play as well as I can. I know that there are a lot of talented defensemen in Pittsburgh. My goal is to have a good showing at camp and hope that my time will come sometime this season.

HF: What was your major at school? Did you see yourself doing this as a profession or was it a fallback plan if you can’t pay the bills playing hockey? BL: I majored in American history. Growing up my dream was always to play hockey. I went to school because that is what people from New England do. I’m sure someday I will have to get a real job and use my degree. But right now my goal is to be a professional hockey player and I have not thought about what I will do after.

HF: The popular television show, The Office, takes place in the town of Scranton. Do you get a lot of jabs and or jokes from friends for working in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area? BL: Yes. All the time. When I tell a person that is where I play, the only things they know about the area is from watching The Office. It is a really funny show. I’m actually pretty disappointed that no one wears around a WBS jersey with the nameplate “From Dwight” like the one Michael receives as a present from Dwight for his birthday. [John and I absolutely LOVE that show and I have given him a shirt with "FROMDWIGHT" on the back of it!!]

HF: Locker rooms are known for their camaraderie and player antics. Are there any locker room horror stories you would be willing to share with us? BL: Nope.

HF: What guy on the team do people not joke with? BL: No one ever messes with Timmy Wallace. That guy is scary.

HF: If Paul Bissonette and Chuck Norris got into a rumble, who do you think would win? BL: I wouldn’t mess with Biss. [could we possibly have a replacement for Gary Roberts?!]

Yet Another Affiliation Agreement made by the Johnstown Chiefs

The Johnstown Chiefs announced last Friday, August 22nd that they entered into another affiliation agreement; this time with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Chiefs will become the Blue Jackets secondary minor league affiliate while their primary partner will remain the AHL Syracuse Crunch.

“We are extremely happy to be working with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Syracuse Crunch because, as an organization, they believe in developing their prospects the right way, and that’s what we strive for here,” said Chiefs coach Ian Herbers.
According to the press release posted on the Johnstown Chiefs webpage, ties between the two teams go back a few years as 2 former players, Jody Shelley and Derrick Walser began their NHL careers with the Blue Jackets.

I would think that the Chiefs being affiliated with several NHL / AHL teams could only help to make a stronger team / organization and, hopefully, keep them in Johnstown (after 20 years, no one wants to see them leave)!!

ALSO in Chiefs news, on Monday they acquired the rights to defenseman David Schulz and center Max Taylor from the Ontario Reign in exchange for defenseman Andrew Martens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Penguins Announce 2008-2009 Prospect Camp

It's getting ever so close, guys!

The Penguins announced their Prospects Camp today on the website. It will be held in Kitchener, Ontario beginning on September 9th and lasting through September 15th.

Coaches from the Penguins AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Dan Bylsma and Todd Reirden, will be on the ice with the players while GM Ray Shero, assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, head coach Michel Therrien and assistant coaches Andre Savard and Mike Yeo will all be in attendance at the camp.

Among the noteable players mentioned in the Camp article on the Penguins webpage are AHL players Alex Goligoski & Luca Caputi; QMJHL player Kevin Veilleux; and 2008 NHL draft picks Nathan Moon & Patrick Killeen. The Penguins coaching staff will keep a close eye on these players and expect good things from them (Goligoski is already being mentioned among the players who may fill the spot left by Whitney).

Defenseman Robert Bertuzzo will not be attending either the Prospects or Training Camps as he is recovering from shoulder surgery he had during the off-season (4 - 6 months recovery time).

For the entire list of players attending the camp, click HERE.

The camp will involve a few days of practice before the players compete in games against other prospects from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Florida Panthers.

Plan to Fork Out More Cash to See Sid Against Ovehkin in DC


According to Sean of "Sean's Ramblings," the Washington Capitals have hiked up prices on the more popular games on their schedule this year (calling them "premium" games) which includes those against the Pittsburgh Penguins (imagine that!).

According to Sean, he has purchased tickets to Capitals games against the Penguins for the past several years and was able to purchase group tickets at a discount but quickly found out that it has been changed for this season. Premium games will cost you an additional $15 per ticket and the only way to purchase group tickets to these games is to purchase tickets to non-premium games.

Although I feel Sean's pain (because it appears that everyone is cashing in on winning teams these days), it ends when he says that he previously paid $20 for tickets (and now has to pay $65 for 2 games). I consider myself lucky to purchase Penguins tickets for $65 (and that's for Level D)! And if you're not a card-carrying student, you can forget about paying $20 for tickets! Consider yourself lucky, Sean (and enjoy it while it lasts) because there may be a time in the near future when you'll wish you could pay $65 per ticket because you can't get your hands on them at all (I think those days for Pens fans are long over)!

Penguins fans are in the same boat - maybe not the exact situation, but unless you're on the season ticket waiting list, you can forget buying a 6-pack mini-plan (which was available to everyone last year). It's just the nature of the beast and the cycle of any sports team, I can bet.

So, Sean, I can sympathize with you to a point; but you're in good company (you may want to make friends with some of the Pittsburgh fans so you can get enough people for the group rate)!

Here's what Kena Misses about Hockey!

Kena from the "Girls ARE Real Sports Fans Too" blog sent me her list yesterday (she's from Kansas).

In response to the request of "The Steel City Sports Fan (Pens Edition)" (and for lack of any other hockey related information/news/observations) I am listing the Top 10 things I have missed about hockey this last off-season. So here goes.

#10 Swedish accents. (yes even the not-so-pretty players).
#9 Really Good Defense.
#8 The Penguins on the radio.
#7 The Power Play.
#6 The Penalty Kill.
#5 Goalie interviews.
#4 Looking at the players. (I apologize to the guys, but Estrogen makes me do it.)
#3 Steve Ott (Dallas Stars, forward, and my favorite player.
#2 The fights.
And...Drum Roll, Please...The Number One thing I miss about hockey season is
the startled/shocked/ deer-in-the-headlights, blank stare that I get when I say something like "no, I can't go to dinner with you. There's a game on tonight. Yes there is, a hockey game". At which point the listener will give me one of the looks that only guys in the middle midwest have perfected and occur only when being spoken to of the wonderful sport of hockey, the one that says "I bet she thinks those little green guys did medical experiments on her, too".

Welcome to Kansas, Toto.

Thanks, Kena, for sharing your list with us!! I can definitely relate to all the lists I've received so far -- fights would be another one at the top of my list too (and looking at the players)!!

IT WON'T BE LONG NOW!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here's what Eric K. Misses / Loves about Hockey!

Eric K. from "Experiencing the Evolution" sent me his list of what he misses / loves about hockey; here it is:

  • Steigy trying more and more to sound like Mike Lange with each broadcast.

  • Bob Errey referring to Gary Roberts drinking "the FIJI water, Steigy, the FIJI water!" (although this year we'll hear about it alot less unfortunately).

  • Hearing Mike Lange say that "Elvis has left the building" at the end of listening to a radio broadcast when VERSUS is televising the game.

  • SuperCuts SuperShot.

  • Hearing Sid's seemingly rehearsed answer to every media members' question...yet still managing to love him (in the most heterosexual way possible).

THANKS for sharing, Eric! I can definitely relate to a lot of the things you include on your list. Actually, I could probably come up with a few more lists (or a list of "100 Things") with as much as I love / miss about hockey!! Bob Errey would be at the top and Sid's responses to the media would be another - he's amazing in all aspects of being a player and human being!

And it's OK to love Sid (I would think it would be abnormal if you didn't); my husband feels the same way and so I jokingly refer to it as a "mancrush" which he seems to be OK with. Actually, I was afraid to list anything with Sid on my list for fear it would appear less credible (since I'm a girl). So I suppose each sex has something to fear about loving Sid - such a shame, really!

I've received a couple responses for my request to submit your lists, but I'd like there to be more, so keep them coming and help me in my quest to continue talking hockey until training camp when news will be more abundant!!

Pensblog - Gretzky Photoshop Results

The guys over at Pensblog recently had a "Wayne Gretzky Sucks Photoshop Expo" and posted the results yesterday -- pretty awesome stuff!! Here are a few of my favorites (visit Pensblog.com to see the rest).

Monday, August 25, 2008

I MISS HOCKEY (it's getting harder to find worthy news/information)!!

I MISS HOCKEY!! And even though the beginning of the season is so close, it still feels like we have 3 months to go to me!!

I have been lucky to find enough stuff on the internet to be able to post everyday, but it's getting harder and harder with each passing day. What's worse is that I can't stand this off-season any longer - I want my hockey / Penguins (just like we all wanted our MTV in the 80's)!

Here is a list of a few things I miss about hockey (in no particular order):
  • the ice - I love the look of the ice; it's a beautiful thing (you'd think I WAS a hockey player with some of the things that I enjoy about hockey, but I'm not)
  • the sound the players' skates make on the ice
  • the sound the puck makes when it hits the pipes (a high-pitch "ping")
  • hockey news on TV and seeing player interviews
  • the feeling of knowing there's a Pens game on and looking forward to it while I'm at work - BORED
  • talking hockey
  • looking forward to the next game I get to go to at the Mellon Arena
  • the drives to Pittsburgh to watch the Pens play
  • Inside Penguins Hockey on FSN
  • Penguins players chemistry (it always makes me want to be part of a team)!
  • Malkin interviews with his translator
  • Malkin's smile
  • the hijinx of Max Talbot
  • watching in amazement all the plays, passes, goals made by talented hockey players
I know everyone loves / misses hockey for different reasons, so I would LOVE IT if you would share that and maybe I'll update this post with your lists if I get enough during the week!!

Send me your lists!!

Pitt Student "Experts" Give Penguins Insight

Penguins "experts" from The Pitt News (student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh) give their insight and analysis of the upcoming season.

Here are a few of the questions that Nick LaMantia (NL) and Jay Huerbin (JH) cover in this artice posted last week:


  • What do you think of the Finnish sensation Janne Pesonen? Will he be a big contributor in 08-09? NL: Pesonen, who won four Finnish championships in five years, has a history of winning. With his 2008 SM-Liiga scoring championship, he brings secondary scoring that should help offset the loss of Malone. JH: I have not seen much more than a few highlight videos on YouTube, but what I’ve been reading about him, he seems to be the perfect no-risk, high-reward type of player the Penguins organization needs. As he has shown playing in the SM-Liiga, Pesonen can score and play some defense. He looks to be a quick skater, but his size might come back to hurt him — literally, actually — in the NHL. Considering the potential he brings, I would not be surprised to see him skating alongside Sidney Crosby sometime this upcoming season.

  • Pittsburgh might start to rely more on younger players like Alex Goligoski, Jonathan Filewich, Ryan Stone, etc. Who do you expect has the early inside track on a breakout season? NL: With Malone, Laraque and Roberts on the outs, Stone, a checking-line forward, should be given an ample opportunity to step up and fill a role on the team’s bottom two lines. Filewich, who needs top-two line ice time, will probably start the season in the minors. Goligoski, however, can succeed at this level, but should start the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton because of a crowded backend in Pittsburgh. JH: If he continues his rapid improvement through the minor leagues, look for the Penguins fourth-round pick in 2007, Luca Caputi, to begin to make an impact in the NHL. A tough player to get a read on since the draft, Caputi seems to be the perfect mix between Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot. After finishing fourth in the OHL in scoring in the 2007-08 season, the Penguins signed Caputi to a three-year contract. He jumped right into the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ playoff run and had a solid appearance.

To read the entire article, visit The Pitt News.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where Do They Get These Writers?!

A new article by Mike Toth of sportsnet.ca had the blog world buzzing yesterday. Here's a paragraph of the article in question (which, coincidentally, was written about the Penguins):
8. With all the garbage I've been eating this summer, I shouldn't be trusting my gut. But something tells me the Pittsburgh Penguins are headed for a huge fall. The darlings of the NHL last year when they gave Detroit all it could handle in the Cup final, the Pens go into the new season missing some key pieces to the puzzle. Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone are gone and key defenceman Ryan Whitney will miss the first three to five months with a knee problem. To make up for their missing offence, the Penguins are counting on getting some big minutes and big goals out of the mercurial Miroslav Satan, who lit the lamp just 15 times for the Islanders last season. Sure, the Penguins still boast the one-two punch of Crosby and Malkin. However, Tampa Bay finished in the cellar last year despite sending Lecavalier and St. Louis over the boards every night. Prediction? Coach Michel Therrien doesn't last the season and the Penguins shock the NHL by struggling just to make the playoffs.
There are several things wrong with this paragraph of the article (which is titled "Pass the Puck - Part II" and is about the writer's predictions and team analysis of the NHL's 2008-2009 season; not just about the Pens). Most apparent is his reference to Ryan Whitney's foot surgery as "knee problems" - wrong body part, guy (good thing Toth wasn't the surgeon for Whitney)! Another thing a little less obvious, but was pointed out by The Sweater Ted blog, Whitney will be missing 3-5 months from the surgery; not from the start of the season, so instead of the possibility of Whitney being out through January or March according to Toth (a Pulitzer Prize-winning candidate, no doubt!) he will actually sit out through November or January - that's quite a difference in terms of a hockey season!!

And lastly, the other thing wrong with this article, in my own humble opinion, is his prediction that "Michel Therrien doesn't last the season and the Penguins will shock the NHL by struggling just to make the playoffs." First off, didn't Pittsburgh just sign Therrien to a 3-year extension during this offseason? I realize this isn't a guarantee for anything and it could be possible that Therrien won't finish the season (since I've learned never to say never), but I'd say the organization is pretty confident in him as the Penguins' coach or else they wouldn't have decided to sign him to another contract in the first place - didn't we already cover this issue before?!

As to the Penguins struggling to make the playoffs, the team may have to start the season by, once again, overcoming diversity. But isn't that something they successfully dealt with last year in order to make the playoffs (even fell only ONE GAME short of winning the Stanley Cup)?! I'd say they're getting pretty good at dealing with diversity at this point. Honestly, I think losing Sidney to a high ankle sprain late in the season for a few months is far more of a blow than not having Hossa and Whitney. The Penguins still have enough depth with a number of talented players to step-up! Malkin did it last season when Crosby was out and I'm looking for players like Letang, Staal, perhaps Goligoski to show us what they got this season. Maybe I'm wrong, but we'll see, won't we?!!

Lemieux IS Better than Gretzky!

Eric from Experiencing the Evoluation gives us Six Reasons Why 66 > 99 - AWESOME post!

Like I commented on EtE blog, I always knew that Lemieux was better than Gretzky, but seeing the facts just makes the point hit home and is just as fun of a debate as Crosby vs. Ovechkin!

THANKS, Eric!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008-2009 Douchebag Preview!!

Here's a peek at the "mercenary" douchebag in his pretty new red uniform courtesy of a Pensblog.com reader (a little photoshopped-up; but that really is Hossa)!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ruuts!!


Today is Jarkko Ruutu's birthday (he turns 33) and even though he's no longer a part of the Pittsburgh Penguins, he will always be one of my favorites. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ruutu (you'll be missed)!!

Pens Patrol Accepting Applications


Do you think you've have what it takes to be part of the Pens Patrol? They're accepting applications for new members, so visit the Penguins webpage and fill out an application online.

Scuderi at Penguins Youth Hockey School


Thursday was Rob Scuderi's turn to visit the Penguins Youth Hockey School at the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island and help in their training for the day.

While at the camp, Scuds talked about the off-season and the closely approaching training camp with Joe Sager.

“This time of year, it feels a little strange because we haven’t had as much time off. But, you still have the same feelings: you’re excited to get another year started. Certainly, with the promise of last year, it makes it that much more exciting to get back into it and get camp started,” he said. “It’ll be nice to have everyone back together again. In the summer, everyone scatters and that’s fine because we all have our family and our friends in our hometowns and whatnot, but it’s nice to have everyone on the same page. We know everyone is working out and getting prepared, but nothing is like that first day where you have that first real practice and real skate with hitting and whatnot.”
As it sounds, Scuderi is looking forward to training camp too (and he obviously likes the word "whatnot").

Will TIOPS Be Charging for Their "Source Information?"

Beginning September 1st, TIOPS will be launching a new website and it seems as though they will also begin charging for the information they post - I haven't confirmed this and nothing on their post definitely comes right out and says "we will be charging for you to be a member of the site," but I'm just reading between the lines. Something about "Inside Access Member" screams "it will cost you."

Although, I hope I'm wrong (this site always has interesting information)!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pens 6-Pack Mini Plans

I had a very pleasant surprise waiting for me when I got home from work today (as I'm sure some of you did too) - a letter from the Pittsburgh Penguins with information about the upcoming 6-pack mini plan sale on September 4th. I am SO EXCITED!!

They're doing alot of things different this year. Not only are they offering the mini plans to members of the season ticket waiting list only, they have also taken away the flexibility of choosing which 6 games you go to. They used to give you a list of games in 3 columns and allowed you to choose 2 games from each column; but this year, you're given a choice of 6 "packages" of 6 pre-chosen games and each list member can purchase up to the limit of (3) 6-pack packages.

One of the VERY FIRST things I noticed was that none of the packages included the game against Detroit which is a bummer, but we'll have a chance to get tickets to that game during the individual ticket sale on Saturday, September 20th. The only other thing is the promotion schedule and having the opportunity to go to some of the promotional games (I'm a big collector)! I'm wondering how that will work (and I would think that there would be at least one promotion included in each of the 6 packages). But honestly, I'm just happy to have a chance to purchase a 6-pack!

OTHER INFORMATION:
Tickets for pre-season games will go on sale Wednesday, September 3rd (no time given).

Quebec Major Junior Hockey Player Gets Invite from Pittsburgh

Joey Haddad may not be a familiar name to you, but he made enough of a name for himself this past season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to get Pittsburgh's attention.

Haddad received an invitation to the rookie camps of both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues; however, he ultimately chose to accept the invitation from Pittsburgh and will arrive for camp on September 9th.

“I was originally thinking St. Louis first because Pittsburgh went to the Cup finals and had a really good team,” the 19-year-old, entering his 20-year-old season as a junior player, told Costello. “But St. Louis has been rebuilding for the last while, so they filled up their roster with a lot of young guys, which makes less room for me. Pittsburgh is more open than St. Louis."
Haddad plays left wing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and had a career high last season with 31 goals and 31 assists. He feels he can fit in to one of the open spots on Pittsburgh's roster, but I think he has alot of tough competition!

Penguins Line Combo Projections

Chris Nichols of sportsnet.ca gives his line combo projections for the Atlantic Division teams in an article posted yesterday. His combos for Pittsburgh are interesting to say the least.

1st Line - Pesonen / Crosby / Satan
2nd Line - Staal / Malkin / Sykora
3rd Line - Fedotenko / Talbot / Dupuis

I was wondering whether or not Pesonen would even earn a spot on the roster and Nichols is already placing him in the big show on the first line with Crosby. Although, I can't say I'm against auditioning anyone for that position - you never know who will end up fitting well with Sid, so all options are worth a try (I was just talking to my husband about this today and he felt that Pesonen isn't likely to be on that line and said it would be Satan). With taking Pesonen out of the picture, it still leaves a space open on the top line - I really don't even have a good guess.

I completely agree that Malkin and Sykora should stay together on the same line and I always thought Staal played well with Malkin - it was as though it elevated Staal's game, so I completely agree with this line. Malkin feeds off of these two and these two feed off of Malkin -- particularly the chemistry Sykora and Malkin have is unlike any other. Just the way each of them know where the other will be or seemingly know what the other is thinking is truly amazing and makes for great plays. But yet again my husband feels that Staal will end up as the Center on the 3rd line and I would think that's the way Staal would want it as well. He prefers playing center.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sykora and Staal

TIOPS has a new thing where they're going over questions they receive from blog readers. I thought the one posted today was interesting enough to post here. The girl asks about Petr Sykora and his being a UFA after next season and wonders whether or not he will remain in Pittsburgh. She thinks that Sykora's contribution are frequently overlooked and I tend to agree with her (I put him in a similar category as I did Ruutu - he's vital to the team but is not often commended for what he does). TIOPS responded by saying that Sykora has said himself he likes it here and they speculate he'll be signed unless his play changes drastically for the worse this season. And then go on to say they feel a deal such as 2 years / $3 million would be possible. They've heard that a deal had been thought about giving Sykora this type of deal before the season ends, but it'll more likely come after that (once he's a UFA).

TIOPS again mentions Jordan Staal and expects talks between him and the Penguin organization to "resume" when training camp starts.

[I know some (maybe alot) of you are going to disagree with me, but I'd much rather hang on to Sykora than Staal if that should be the case - I could be wrong on that especially since they may be looking to sign Staal before his contract is up and those 2 won't be talking to the Penguins over their contract at the same time and alot can happen in a season; however, I don't think Staal's going to make it an easy deal to negotiate at any point because he'll be asking for things that he deserves but Pittsburgh won't be in the position to guarantee him with all the other young talent we have on the team.]

I would LOVE to hear what the rest of you think, so please post a comment or send me and e-mail and we could some kind of discussion going that could make this off-season go faster!

Not Just ANOTHER Sidney Crosby Article!

TSN.com has this AWESOME article about Sidney Crosby that was posted back in June (around SCF) and I somehow missed it, so if you already know about it, I apologize and just move on to the next post!

This is actually the first time I came across it and it was a find for me during this extremely boring off-season (Can you tell I'm missing my Pens? My posts seem to be getting longer and longer). Anyway, it's even more of a thrill for me because it covers normal, everyday things about Sid that you probably don't know and if you don't know me, let me explain that this is the kind of stuff I LOVE coming across (on Sid or any other player). I am extremely interested in seeing the "human" side of players just to remind myself of the fact that they're "just like us" - well, almost.

I'll give you a short list as a "tease" so you can enjoy reading the article for yourself like I did!!

10 Things You Didn't Know About Sid "the Kid"

  1. one of his nicknames in the locker room is "Creature"
  2. Sid can fight
  3. he's superstitious
  4. he may be moving
  5. he's no health-food freak
  6. Sid understands the media
  7. he's not always the "quiet" leader
  8. he loves to "kill bad guys" (OK - I really can't let this one stand on it's own; it's in reference to video games)
  9. he does anything to win because he hates losing
  10. "this is the most important game of Sid's life" [making reference to the must-win game against the Detroit Redwings on June 4th - the article was posted June 2nd]
HOCKEY for the Ladies (for the female perspective of this article -- you didn't think I was going to let this one go by without commenting on it, did you?!!)

Therrien is Just as Happy as We Are that the End of Summer is Near!!

The Penguins webpage has a new article featuring an interview with head coach Michel Therrien who says that he's excited for training camp (aren't we all?!).

In the article, Therrien talks about his thoughts on Whitney's foot surgery and which player may fill in for him (of course he mentions the obvious Goligoski and Letang); the team's loss of Hossa, Ruutu, and Malone (he first brings up Matt Cooke who has been compared to Ruutu - I always thought Therrien had a soft spot for "Ruuts!"); Brooks Orpik; and the Penguins' goals for this upcoming season.

Be sure to check it out!

Pesonen Article and NEW Photo

First off - I had NO idea this is really what he looks like which is totally different than the lone picture of him in that advertisement-laden uniform which has been plastered across the internet all summer long!

I was browsing to find some post-worthy stuff today and came across this Finnish article about our newly acquired Janne Pesonen after I first learned about it on the Pesonen and the Pens blog (which, by the way, refers to Crosby and Malkin as "wanna-be-Jannes" all through the blog -- I don't think I'll touch that one).

I've tried and tried to find a half-decent translator, but none have done too good of a job - even the translation in english is hard to understand (it ends up being half/half).

It reads as though he injured his hand that made a 10-inch scar (?) and is hoping for quick recovery; it reports that he'll be arriving in Pittsburgh at the beginning of September (training camp) and talks about his one-year $600,000-$800,000 contract containing a paragraph that will allow him to go back to Europe when his contract is up if he plays for the Baby Pens ($100,000) and not in the NHL since he would be making more than that in the "SM-League"

Although the right Pesos ran adorns the ten-cent-long scar, he stresses that the Summer has been made in the conditions well.

Farmijoukkueessa Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins would pay only about 100 000 dollars, which is less than he would be SM-League

If the location is not at the top for some reason the open, rather than any farmikomennus catch fire agreement is a paragraph on the basis of which he or she can go back to the end of the year back to Europe, for example, Ermine.

I did the best I could with it; the more I look at it, the more I think I can fit it together. Find the "translated" article here to read it for yourself and decide what it's about (now I can understand how easily rumors can get started - things ARE "lost in translation!!").

[UPDATE #2] If you didn't catch the recent comment on this post, I recently received an e-mail from Vince of Pesonen and the Pens blog who cleared up the "wanna-be-Janne" references to Malkin and Sid -- it's all in good fun and with Gary Roberts gone, he's trying to create another folk hero (which is understandable - but Roberts has big shoes to fill)!! No hard feelings, Vince! THANKS!!

[UPDATE] Thanks to Kena from Girls ARE Real Sports Fans Too for looking into the translation of this article a little further!! Here's her take on it:

  • the scar is 10 cm and NOT 10 inches (I suppose if I thought about it, inches doesn't really make too much sense; at 10 inches, forget the scar his hand would probably be cut off)!
  • Farmijoukkueessa could possibly mean “Minor league team” (note: she doesn't want quoted on that) ; )
  • the paragraph in his contract refers to his playing for the NHL -- if he doesn't make it on the Penguins NHL roster, he'll be going back home

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baird Benefit a Big Success!

Yesterday, the fundraising event to benefit Jason Baird was held at the Warner Theatre with a SOLD OUT crowd!

The Erie Otters webpage is reporting that the benefit raised $30,000 that will be used to pay Baird's large medical bills.

To get more background information on this fundraiser, visit my previous posts on Jason Baird:

08/12/2008 - Tickets on Sale for Baird Fundraiser
08/01/2008 - Former Penguins Bourque, Loney, Wregget, and Kachowski to Participate in Exhibition Hockey Game












John Challis Leaves Behind Lasting Memory

The Pittsburgh Penguins organization released a statement on their webpage yesterday extending sympathy to John Challis' family and friends as his two-year battle with liver and lung cancer ended. The amount of support that has been shown to John and his family over the past few months speaks volumes about the young man and the amount of people he touched throughout his short life of 18 years.

"The Penguins organization would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family of John Challis on John’s passing. John was an extraordinarily courageous young man who touched all of our lives with his strength, passion, dignity and caring for others. Because of his attitude and actions, especially in the last year of his life when he faced so much adversity, his memory will last forever."

Just as Challis' message spread throughout the country, so too has the word of his passing and all media venues have decided to pay tribute. The blogosphere is no exception, so I feel compelled to join my fellow bloggers in extending my deepest sympathies to the Challis family. With as many lives as John has touched, I'm certain that his memory will live on and continue to help make this world a better place.

Courage + believe = life.

Life ain't about how many breaths you take. It's what you do with those breaths.


In Memory of
John Challis

Therrien and Scuderi to Make Appearances at Youth Camp

The Pittsburgh Penguins Youth Hockey School is underway this week at the RUM Island Sports Center on Neville Island. Penguins head coach Michel Therrien and defenseman Rob Scuderi are scheduled to visit on Tuesday (Therrien) and Wednesday (Scuderi).

Both will help out the camp instructors, Mike Yeo and Phil Bourque during their visit.

Penguins Post Update on Whitney

Ryan Whitney is beginning the long process of recovery. He will start the season hanging out in the press box like every other injured / recovering player before him. He will be missing pre-season and the start of the regular season playing in Stockholm, Sweden.

However, he must continue to keep in mind that the long-term benefits greatly outweigh what he'll have to miss during recovery and that there are plenty of good years left for him to enjoy in his career.

“and I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in the arena on that night – so it’s going to be a little frustrating sitting in the press box.” [referring to the home opener on October 11th against the New Jersey Devils]
As I had discussed in yesterday's post, Whitney was hesitant to commit to surgery before exhausting all other options because it's such a major thing. And before he and his doctors ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no other option, Whitney depended a great deal on the Penguins trainers and equipment managers to work any magic they may have had up their sleeves; and finally tried orthotics for a month before the surgery - all of which was unsuccessful in providing him any relief.

“You can’t just jump into surgery – it’s a big decision – but I had four highly-recommended foot specialists telling me they believe this is really going to help me,” he said. “Because of the way my foot was shaped, along with taking some slapshots off my foot the year before, it has lost some stability. This was what we had to do.”

“Those guys were incredible, and I can’t say enough about them,” Whitney said. “Dana and Paulie did an unbelievable job sharpening my skates in different ways. Stew and Scotty tried different stretching techniques, tried to tape it. They tried verything to help me."

“Without those guys … well, basically, I was a headache to them all year, but they helped me get through the season.”

I'm sure it will be tough for Whitney to get through recovery during the first half of the season and he'll be itching to get back on the ice, but he'll have to be patient. At least he'll be in good company with the rest of us until that time comes.

[article based on information taken from the Pittsburgh Penguins webpage]

Chiefs Continue to Serve as ECHL Affiliate of the Avalanche

It was announced on Monday, August 18th that the affiliation between the ECHL team Johnstown Chiefs and NHL's Colorado Avalanche has been renewed.

“We are excited to renew our affiliation agreement with the Colorado Avalanche. They are one of the best organizations in the NHL. They have a history of developing players and winning championships.” - Ian Herbers (Chiefs head coach)
The positive outlook and benefits gained seem to be mutual between the two organizations. And, likAe the Chiefs, Colorado is encouraged by the results of the 2007-2008 season.

"We take great pride in developing our young prospects," said Avalanche Vice President of Hockey Operations Craig Billington. "We feel that Johnstown and the ECHL is the right environment for them."
"We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Chiefs," added Avalanche Assistant General Manager Greg Sherman. "It was a positive first season in 2007-08 and we are excited for the upcoming campaign."

According to the press release posted on the Johnstown Chiefs webpage, the Avalanche/Monsters provided a total of 11 players to the Chiefs in 2007-08 which included:

  • Codey Burki - former second-round draft pick (#59 overall)
  • Kenny Roche
  • Brandon Straub
  • Ray Macias
  • Wes O’Neill
  • Vladimir Denisov
  • Mitch Love
  • Andrew Penner - former first-round draft pick (#26 overall)
  • Jason Bacashihua
  • JD Corbin and
  • Rob Drummond

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Me LIKEY!!

Pittsburgh Penguin's AHL affiliate, the Wilkes Barre / Scranton Baby Pens revealed their new third jersey yesterday. I totally agree with Paul Bissonnette's assessment (Baby Pen's player who modeled the jersey - shown left), "sick!"

THANKS to Seth from "Empty Netters" for scoring the pic (not even Penguins Insider had that -- perhaps that was an agreement between EN and PI; however, they did provide Bissonnette's "heavy endorsement" of the jersey quoted above!)!!

I really like these jerseys - very SHARP!! But from the sounds of Seth's post, he doesn't seem too impressed:

Basically it looks like all they did was take an old NHL Penguins jersey from the Dave Schultz era and slap "PENGUINS" across the front just in case you forget what team your watching. Kind of like what the Stars did with their home Reebok Edge-Super-Duper-Mega-Ultra-Awesome-Humungo-Women-Will-Want-You Uniform System jerseys.

While we do like the way it looks, the lack of effort in coming up with this is kind of disappointing.

HOCKEY for the Ladies (if you'd like a more female perspective on the look of this jersey) !!

The Wilkes Barre / Scranton also announced their assitant coach yesterday (from Penguins Insider):

As expected, the Penguins announced Todd Reirden as assistant coach today. Turns out the two months he did with the Penguins as a volunteer assistant in the playoffs last year were basically an extended job interview. Needless to say, he impressed.

PA Tax Payers Are Able to Relax Once Again

I failed to post this earlier, but it was overshadowed by the excitement of the groundbreaking for the new arena. It's something that's almost as important and shouldn't be overlooked especially since some of my earlier posts have covered the issue at length.

Last Thursday, the very same day the groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena took place, the State Gaming Board finally ok'd the transfer of Don Barden's casino license to Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm. This means that Bluhm is now responsible for the funding of the $780 million dollar project and guarantees that taxpayers will not be footing the bill. The fact that profits from the casino are a major source of funding for the new arena - providing $7.5 million a year for the next 30 years - was touched upon by several of the speakers at the ceremony and is great news for both Penguins fans and PA taxpayers alike (perhaps they are one and the same)!

A more ideal situation other than the transfer of the license to Bluhm would have been to start the entire license bidding process over again from square one, but the reality of this was that it would delay the construction of the casino by years. Now, construction of the casino will start back up again almost immediately (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the start could be as soon as this week).

After 18 months and alot of heartache and misery with thoughts of the Penguins leaving Pittsburgh, things are finally looking up and it feels good! Now all we need is a few Stanley Cups and banners to decorate the place with -- but let's not get too ahead of things - all in due time; and if anything, Penguins fans have learned patience from this whole ordeal and we'll wait as long as it takes! GO PENS!

Fans Question Whitney's Decision to Wait

After word of Ryan Whitney's surgery and extended absence from the team for 3 - 5 months, I've been browsing sites and talking with fellow fans about the situation. Plenty of discussions, and alot of them bring up a common question - why did he wait until now to have the surgery and not have it done sooner (like at the beginning of summer)?

At first thought, it does seem like a legitimate question and appears to be a bad choice on Whitney's part; however, his explanation also seems reasonable to me. Just like alot of other people, Whitney was hesitant to have the surgery because it's something major (from what I've read, an osteotomy is very major surgery). Why choose a drastic solution when there are other, less invasive ways that could provide relief? It's understandable to me even if I do feel that the wait may have been a little bit too long. Just for some background, here is information taken from WebMD.com which may give better insight to the situation than what I can:

If you get little or no joint pain relief from osteoarthritis medications, it may be time to consider joint surgery.

How do you decide? First, ask yourself and your doctor the most important question: Is there any other conservative treatment? Second, is joint surgery indicated? ...

And here are before and after x-rays of an osteotomy (this is an example taken from The Foot and Ankle Clinic; every situation may differ):


(YIKES!! I know I always wanted a screw in the heel of my foot!)

Puck Daddy chalks it up to "a dreadful summer for Pittsburgh."

Still, how crappy has this off-season been for Penguins fans where losing their No. 2 defenseman for five months is seen as a relative inconvenience by comparison?
Seth from "Empty Netters" looks at top point totals by defensemen over the past 2 seasons and comes up with "Whitney's Worth." It appears his value lies within his offense since he ranks in the top 10 defensemen and is tied for 9th with Lubomir Visnovsky of the Kings with a total of 99 points (26 goals, 73 assists) - that's impressive and something I hadn't thought of considering his less than average season last year.

One thing is for sure, we'll definitely see Whitney's importance to the team within the first few games. Defensemen's contributions aren't always apparent until they are out of the line-up completely. As much as alot of us complained about him, we may be begging to have him back in the lineup by the end of the 3 - 5 months!

Like any "relationship," maybe this will be a good "break" that all of us need (and allow us to realize just how much we may take Whitney for granted)!

We Should Be THANKING Mario for the New Arena!

There was an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review posted on Friday, August 15th reporting that fans are upset with Mario Lemieux because of his tactics during negotiations for the new arena deal. I'm not sure what area this columnist chose to question people in or even who these people are (are they even fans?), but none of the fans I heard at the ceremony last Thursday echoed these feelings unless you feel chanting, "MA-RI-O" over and over is a form of resentment!

Personally, the Pens are here for good, so I don't give a flying shit how they did it! And I honestly chuckled when I heard that Mario was bluffing and knew that the team wasn't going anywhere. On the ride home from the ceremony, someone on the radio reported that Mario said that the trip to Kansas City was for nothing more than a good meal! How funny is that?! Sure, if I'm living in Kansas City I wouldn't be the slightest bit amused, but I'm NOT! If you ask me, these are practices of a good businessman; and it turns out, real businessmen agree (Biz owners back Mario's tactics)!
"He knew how to strike at the heart of the fans and the city," she said. "I think he really duped the people of Pittsburgh, and he'll definitely get away with it because of who he is." - Kristin O'Neal, 28, of the South Side
What the hell is her point? What difference did it make if he played on our emotions? Let's think about this: was it really the fans he was playing? We weren't the ones who could do anything about the deal, so why would anyone think he was targeting us? Yes, I'll admit that I wasn't happy with him when it seemed like the politicians [Rendell] seemed to be open with the deal and giving the organization what they wanted and he'd come on the news to say how he didn't like how Rendell was handling things sounding as though there was no way this deal was going to get done. He knew what he was doing and that was only a passing moment of uneasiness for us thinking that the Penguins were leaving, but what was the end result? We HAVE the Penguins and a new arena! What did bluffing hurt? Hasn't Mario saved the Penguins more than once? Why would he do all that if he didn't love Pittsburgh and the fans? I don't think he would and we all should realize this already (he LIVES here for crying out loud)!!

Lemieux is one of the many people we, as fans, should be thanking right now! And as much as people have against Rendell, Onorato, and Ravenstahl, I do believe that they are to be thanked as well!

At the end of the groundbreaking, I heard several people say "thank you" to Mario as he walked past them. I believe he had the fans' best interest in mind and and they [we] know that. He wanted to do what he could to keep the team here and for that, Mario, I say "thank you!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

HOCKEY for the Ladies - a New Feature of My Blog

I'm a female, and as a female, I enjoy alot of things about hockey. I have made it a point over the years to learn about the game and I consider myself a true fan of the sport - I LOVE everything about it!

With that said, the female in me also enjoys the players themselves - there are ALOT of good-looking hockey players (most of which play for the Pittsburgh Penguins) and I embrace the side of me that enjoys watching these guys for the simple reason of just looking at them. And why not? [But let's get this straight and put it in perspective - I'm not the kind of female hockey fan that would even think of going to a game with a sign that reads, "Marry me, Sidney!" or "The Future Mrs. Crosby!"]

This is the very reason I created the new feature. My plan is to also include hockey information for those ladies that would like to learn more about or just don't understand the game of hockey (and to the guys that read my blog, just avoid anything that says "for the Ladies" and you'll be fine - I'm separating this feature for you!).

Gary Roberts Article

Tampa Bay recently posted an article featuring the newly acquired Gary Roberts. To read more, visit the site ("He Keeps Coming Back for More")

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Tell Crosby Hello"

That was what Alexander Ovechkin requested of Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer covering the Beijing Olympics, when she told him that she was from the Pittsburgh paper.

Ovechkin was flown to Beijing to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Here's the entire conversation from her recent article, "The highs and lows of a Beijing night:"

Near the back, I came upon Alex Ovechkin sitting alone on a wall over a pond.

The Russians brought the Washington Capitals winger and reigning NHL MVP here to help promote the Sochi Games.

"You all by yourself?" I asked.

"No, I'm with friends," he said, although they were nowhere in sight.

I told him I was from the Pittsburgh paper and had interviewed him several times.

"Pittsburgh?" Ovechkin said, lighting up a bit. "Tell [Sidney] Crosby hello."

"What about [Evgeni] Malkin?" I asked.

"Him, too."

He told me it was a seven-hour flight from home and he would be here two or three days.

"It's for Russia," he said.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

NEW Penguins Arena Webpage

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced at the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, August 14th, that they have made a new site devoted entirely to the new arena. It's a pretty amazing site and includes all sorts of interactive / multimedia things like videos, the latest pictures, the webcam among other interesting things. It's really worth the time to check out (I'm sure they'll post the latest updates about the arena there too)!

Whitney OUT 3 - 5 Months!

Doubters have no more to complain about with Ryan Whitney - turns out, he was skating with a "bad foot" (it reminds me of Plaxico Burress' rookie season when everyone was disappointed with how he played and it turned out he was playing with a broken hand). I will admit, though, that I was one of those Whitney doubters!

The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed on Friday that Whitney underwent surgery. Rob Rossi conducted an interview with Whitney on Thursday - a day prior to his surgery.

"I just couldn't live on one healthy foot anymore, let alone try to skate," Whitney said Thursday, on the eve of his surgery. "We've tried everything to avoid surgery because we knew it would mean missing a chunk of the season. But nothing worked."
He underwent surgery in Charlotte, NC to correct left-foot misalignment after several months of, first, working with the trainers then more conservative treatment methods - all of which did not help. He sought the help of three orthopedic specialists who ultimately recommended surgery after all other treatments were unsuccessful. Whitney began to notice there was a problem in the opening round of the playoffs when the Penguins played the Ottawa Senators and says that Brooks Orpik and Sidney Crosby were among those who knew what bad shape his foot was in.

"Obviously, had we known surgery was inevitable, we would have had it in June," Whitney said. "Ray was great about trying to treat this without surgery, but nothing we tried worked.

"It's frustrating. We went from being optimistic, I wouldn't miss any time, to maybe not coming back until January. But at least now I know when I come back this year, it will be the me that's coming back."

Ultimately, that will be the silver lining to this blow to the Penguins defense; however, they have enough depth to take care of business in Whitney's absence (and now Goligoski may have an even better chance to "step up" this coming season)! And it just makes you wonder if this was the reason Shero didn't want to deal / wanted to wait to deal Daryl Sydor (it's starting to all make sense now and it just goes to show that there are always "powers that be" that know more than we fans do so we should always keep the faith!)!

AS PROMISED - MORE on Thursday's Ceremony!

John and I had a late start Thursday morning leaving for Pittsburgh and got stuck in alot of traffic because of construction all around the area.

We arrived just as Paul Steigerwald started the ceremony and asked the crowd, "have you ever seen a more beautiful slab of dirt?" Making reference to the mound of ceremonial dirt placed in front of the podium from which he spoke.

The picture to the left is a broad view of the entire construction site taken after the ceremony (from Washington Place entrance).

Pictures to the right:
  1. The view when entering the construction site from Washington Place
  2. 2 paths were made leading up to the site of the ceremony: one for the general public and the other for "important people" which were given a commemorative hardhat as they entered (and got to walk on a green carpet of synthetic grass - OOOOOOOOOOOHH!)
  3. a closer view of the area where they handed out the hardhats
  4. closeup of the commemorative hardhats which read: "New Pittsburgh Arena, Groundbreaking, August 14, 2008"

After Steigerwald gave his introduction, he introduced Jeff Jimmerson to sing the National Anthem which I thought was SO appropriate and what made it a true Penguins event (along with all the fans chanting "Let's Go Pens!" every-so-often)! The picture below of Jimmerson was taken from the Penguins webpage (as I said previously, my view was blocked and I couldn't get good pictures until after the ceremony ended).

PA Governor, Ed Rendell, was first to speak and was followed by Allegheny County Executive, Dan Onorato; Pittsburgh Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl; and lastly, Pittsburgh Penguins CEO, Ken Sawyer (surprisingly, Mario did not speak even though the crowd chanted, "MA-RI-O" throughout the ceremony).

They ended with the group of them shoveling dirt onto the commemorative shovels and pitching it to mark the "official" start on the new arena's construction (picture courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins webpage).

The shovel handles were made out of the shafts from replica hockey sticks like the one Sidney Crosby uses (sort of like he was there in spirit); also paying tribute to Sid are the number of seats the new arena will hold for hockey games - 18,087! Cool!

All-in-all it was a great day for ALL of us - the Penguins, the fans, and the city. I'm so glad I was able to be there to add to the collection of memories I have being a Pens fan! And, I think the words of a Penguins icon is most fitting,

"It's a Great Day for Hockey"
- Coach Badger Bob Johnson

It's Either FEAST or Famine with News!

I have so much news that I could talk about, I just don't know where to start -- I guess I shouldn't be complaining since having news is better than not (and it only means that hockey season is around the corner - YEA)!!

Here's some of the stuff I hope to get to over the weekend / next few days:
  • update on the groundbreaking ceremony that I promised (the new arena webpage)!
  • Lemieux on the new arena and negotiating the deal
  • Fans upset with Lemieux's negotiating tactics (including business owners response that backs his tactics)
  • Ovechkin promoting 2014 Winter Olympics
  • new Bill Thomas article
  • National TV schedule
So check back often (I'll probably be updating more than usual)!