Friday, August 29, 2008

Could potential Meszaros offer-sheet impact Pens?

Ottawa's RFA defenseman Andrej Meszaros has supposedly signed an offer sheet with another team for $5 million a year, roughly $1.5 million more than the Sens were offering in the last negotiation.

Well the team isn't the Penguins so what's the impact in this corner of the world?...It could be Tampa Bay. Hey, they're crazy enough to do anything and even though Meszaros isn't a forward, he could be a useful player for them....So what's the catch?

The announcement of which team has signed Meszaros hasn't been made yet. If Ottawa chooses not to match the contract (which seems likely), the new team will forfeit their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks in next season's draft as compensation.

Tampa Bay, the astute reader might remember, has already dealt their 3rd round pick to Pittsburgh in exchange for the early negotiating rights (and subsquent signing) of Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts....Could this Meszaros signing not have been announced because Tampa must wrangle and re-acquire the pick?

Maybe, maybe not. It'd sure be interesting though if Tampa wants Ray Shero to send back their 3rd rounder, that's a good bit of leverage for the Penguins. Maybe they could add one of Tampa's 20+ forwards (like Jussi Jokinen!) for a 3rd round pick.

Time will tell but it does seem unusual that the supposed news of Meszaros' offer sheet signing was over 24 hours ago and the team who made the signing hasn't be identified yet.


Craig Custance says you can eliminate Atlanta, Columbus and Phoenix, three teams with the need (and cap room) to potentially go for this kind of bold move.

So, that would leave just a handful of teams (Vancouver, LA, Minnesota, New York Islanders) that would have the cap-room, need and balls to grab Meszaros. And, of course, you gotta have Tampa in the conversation..

28 Profiles in 28 Days....The Gronk

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon
Tyler Kennedy....The Sparkplug
Evgeni Malkin....The Showstopper
Janne Pesonen...The Finnish Wildcard
Miroslav Satan...The Scoring Winger (Who isn't Hossa)

Player Name: Jordan Staal
How Acquired: Drafted 2nd overall in 2006
Position: Center
Age: Turns 20 on September 12th
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season, $2,200,000 cap hit ($850,000 base salary as well as up to $1,350,000 in performance bonuses)

Last Season Stats: 82 games played, 12 goals, 16 assists = 28 points...Playoffs 20 gp, 6g, 1a= 7p
Last Season Write-up: Tough season, statisically for the young Staal who put up an unexpected 29 goals as a 19 year old rookie. The Pens used Staal almost exclusively at his natural position, center (opposed to the previous year where he was largely Evgeni Malkin's winger). Staal though battled through, playing in every game and eventually morphing into one of the best 3rd line centers in the game and scored enough timely goals in the playoffs to show his sophomore slump was a derivation from the usual.
Career Year Stats: (2006-07) 81 gp, 29g, 13a =42 points

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Progressing like no other, and perhaps is the #1 player on this roster that still has expected room to grow.
Potential line-mates: Depends on the plan....If the Pens wanted to, they could make him a power forward winger for Malkin or Sidney Crosby on a scoring line. But it seems they want to keep him as a center and let him develop there, so he's likely to play with lower line wingers not as skilled.
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 30 goals, 35 assists, 65 points...Staal will benefit from likely taking some of Ryan Malone's PP time, so expect that his Kate Moss-thin assist totals (just 29 in 163 games) should have the chance to go up.
Notes: According to unconfirmed reports, Jordan might not be only member of his family to be in the NHL. I wonder if those guys in New York and Carolina who look like him are of any relation...It sure would be helpful if someone in the media could point this out a time or two...
Interesting fact: Staal has appeared in more career NHL games of meaning than all but 6 players that have been drafted since 2004 (Staal, of course, was drafted in 2006). Those six are Crosby, Ovechkin, Olesz, Meszaros, Franzen and Streit and they were all spotted the 2005-06 season.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stu Barnes Hangs 'em up

From a story we first saw at Mirtle, former Penguin Stu Barnes has decided to retire from hockey in order to take an assistant coaching position with the Dallas Stars.

Barnes played the game in a heady, gritty, determined style. He wasn't the biggest guy out there, but he always seemed to score the biggest of goals.

Interestingly Barnes played parts of three seasons (206 games) with Pittsburgh. In that stretch he scored 67 goals and 69 assists. So even though Barnes only played about 17.9% of his NHL games in a Penguins uniform, he scored an incredible 25.6% of the goals (and 22.7% of his overall points) with Pittsburgh.

With this retirement and Jaromir Jagr and Marty Straka skating off to Europe, this leaves just Robert Lang left playing in the NHL from Pittsburgh's 1997-98 squad. We point this out because it makes us begin to feel a little old.
Anyways best of luck to Barnes in his new capacity...Given his work ethic and mind for the game, we think he'll be great as a coach.

28 profiles in 28 days....The Scoring Winger (Who Isn't Hossa)

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon
Tyler Kennedy....The Sparkplug
Evgeni Malkin....The Showstopper
Janne Pesonen...The Finnish Wildcard

Player Name: Miroslav Satan
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent 7/08
Position: Left/Right Wing
Age: Turns 34 on October 22
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season, $3,500,000

Last Season Stats: (New York Islanders) 80 games played, 16 goals, 25 assists = 41 points
Last Season Write-up: Last season with the Isles Satan revealed that he played through an injury that he didn't disclose, he didn't want to miss time. So that shows he's tough and willing to play through the pain. He only scored 16 goals, which might be alarming but consider his woeful teammates (Mike Comrie led the Isles with 49 points last season...Sidney Crosby had 48 assists last year, and he only played 53 games!). Don't read too much into the lack of production by Satan, it was a year to forget on a team to forget.
Career Year Stats: (2002-03 with Buffalo) 79 gp, 26g, 49a =75 points

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Probably in his prime, maybe starting towards the downhill portion of his career
Potential line-mates: Crosby, his old buddy Ruslan Fedotenko, Evgeni Malkin, Petr Sykora
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 40 goals, 45 assists, 85 points...Satan could be the skilled winger Crosby's never had for a full season
Notes: Satan is a nine time 25+ goal scorer, he's got nice hands....On his team profile he's listed at 6'3 which is significantly taller than our memory serves. Satan, at almost 34, seems like he should be older than he is since he's been around forever (1995). Satan, like Sykora, contacted the Penguins and wanted to be on this team; that is a good sign to bring in guys that really want to be a part of this. Everyone talks about Marian Hossa and to be sure he has skill to spare but don't forget for the most of Crosby's career his linemates have still been guys like Colby Armstrong and Old Man Recchi. He hasn't had a full year with a slick, skilled winger winger like Satan. On a one year deal, Satan might be a short-term option for the Pens, but that's the cap world we live in. When your core is locked up it takes a large chunk of the cap to keep the guys like Crosby and Malkin...It's going to take creative short-term signings like Sykora and Satan to round out the lineup with talent to play with the big guns.
Interesting fact: From 1998-99 through the 2002-03 season, Satan was the leading scorer at the end of each season for the Buffalo Sabres.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days....The Finnish Wildcard

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon
Tyler Kennedy....The Sparkplug
Evgeni Malkin....The Showstopper

Player Name: Janne Pesonen
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent 7/08

Position: Winger

Age: 26
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season.

Last Season Stats: (Karpat of the Finnish SM-Liga) 56 games played, 34 goals, 44 assists = 78 points (league's leading scorer and MVP
Last Season Write-up: Pesonen dazzled the SM-Liga, leading his team Karpat to their fourth championship in the past five years and picking up league MVP and playoff MVP along the way. A good measure to judge a player is their stats compared to their teammates. Last season the only two players other than Pesonen to score more than 50 points for Karpat were two career European players in their mid 30s and Pesonen had more goals than all but three others on his team had points. Those are two pretty good indicators that Pesonen was a vibrant offensive player in Finland. The million dollar question, of course, is how will that translate to the NHL?
Career Year Stats: Last season

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Pesonen will be thrown into the deep end of the pool in a couple of weeks. It remains to be seen if he has the chops to swim or if he'll sink.
Potential line-mates: Pesonen could be on either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin's scoring lines if he shows he can keep up with the stars,has the hands to finish and the strength to fight through North American checking. Or he could be on a lower line providing the classic Finnish effort and grit with other checking players.
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 30 goals, 40 assists, 70 points...Best case, Pesonen steps right in and looks like he's been playing NA style hockey all his life and is a 30 goal guy for Crosby or Malkin. That case seems unlikely, but that's where the bar is set.
Notes: Is Janne Pesonen the next Vladimir Vujtek? Long-time Pens fans will remember Vujtek, dubbed the "best player not in the NHL" by many was given a chance with the Penguins. He didn't work out. Pesonen didn't come to play in the AHL but he'll have to prove that despite his modest size (listed at 5'11, 180 pounds) that he has the strength and all-around ability to play at the highest level in the world.
Interesting fact: A lot of pixels have been devoted to Pesonen since he splashed on the scene in early July. But anytime you have a "cult song" in Finnish or have a youtube highlight reel like this it's going to be posted. The celebration of the goal scored :38 seconds in still kills us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TST turns 1

We try to be modest, after all this just a simple blog is about hockey but it's about what swirls around the editor's mind. And tonight we just want to briefly mention that this humble blog is now at the point of it's first official anniversary (515 posts ago) with the first real post. So thanks to all the friends and colleagues we've picked up along the way. It may sound lame but we've valued every comment, email, link and reader we've gotten and look forward more solid years to come.

28 profiles in 28 days....The Showstopper

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon
Tyler Kennedy....The Sparkplug

Player Name: Evgeni Malkin
How Acquired: Drafted 2nd overall in 2004
Position: Center
Age: 22
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2013-14 season....Geno will likely make about $3.8 million this season in salary plus bonuses from his original entry level deal. So he still counts $3.8 million against the cap for this coming season. For the five seasons that follow (starting 09-10), his cap number and average salary is the $8,700,000 figure.

Last Season Stats: (Pittsburgh) 82 games played, 47 goals, 59 assists = 106 points Playoffs: 20 gp, 10g, 12a, 22 p
Last Season Write-up: No player scored more points in the regular season plus the post season....We all know that when Sidney Crosby went down, Geno stepped up and stepped up big...Finally out of the shadow of his more brash country-mate and fellow '04 draftee Alex Ovechkin and his teammate Crosby, Malkin scored 53 points (24g, 29a) over the final 37 games of the season.
Career Year Stats: Uhh, last season

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Malkin took a huge leap from his first to second season in the NHL....As scary as it is to think, he's just 22 years old and should be even bigger, stronger, faster this season than last
Potential line-mates: Petr Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, Janne Pesonen, Sidney Crosby
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 55 goals, 75 assists, 130 points...Is it ambitious? Yes. But if healthy with guys like Crosby, Sykora and Sergei Gonchar it's not unattainable in a perfect world.
Notes: It's often assumed that because Malkin (who's lived in America for about a year and a half) doesn't know much English that he doesn't have the desire to. This is untrue, with he's not as outgoing and gregarious as Ovechkin, he is learning the language and his teammates know his personality. Just ask Sykora who has to regularly retrive his shoes from the trash can. On the ice Malkin has all the potential in the world. He has the size and skating ability that makes him look almost reminscient of a left-handed Mario, he can fire a slap-shot with the best of them and has the guile to take any shot from anywhere (Marty Biron still hasn't seen this one). Malkin also has the vision and passing ability to make the plays happen...Quite simply, with the puck on his stick, he is the showstopper.
Interesting fact: Ovechkin might be thought of as the Russian sniper but it's Malkin who is the only player (since 1917) to score a goal in each of his first six NHL games....Malkin also holds the record for the longest point streak in the NHL by a Russian at 15 games.

28 profiles in 28 days....The Sparkplug

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon

Player Name: Tyler Kennedy
How Acquired: Drafted in 99th overall (4th round) in 2004
Position: Any forward position (natural center but expected to play mostly wing)
Age: 22
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season, $542,000 cap hit (RFA after this season)

Last Season Stats: (Pittsburgh) 55 games played, 10 goals, 9 assists =19 points...(With Wilkes-Barre) 10 gp, 5g, 4a, 9p....Playoffs: 20 gp, 0g, 4a, 4 p
Last Season Write-up: Kennedy didn't make the the Pittsburgh roster out of camp last season but he quickly proved to management that he was performing at a level above the AHL level. Kennedy then put up 6 goals and 4 assists in his first 17 NHL games....TK got diagnosed with mononucleosis in mid January and missed a month and after that point his production really diminished as he tallied only 2 goals and 9 assists in the last 44 post-injury games....Numbers only tell half the story though, as TK does things like hustle, play defense and stand up for teammates (as seen by kicking Scottie Upshall's ass)
Career Year Stats: Would have to be last season, since he was a rookie

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Kennedy is progressing. He's the youngest forward on the team not named Staal, Malkin or Crosby.
Potential line-mates: Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Staal
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 20 goals, 20 assists, 40 points...Kennedy could be a 20/20 guy one day soon. If he gets some minutes that day may come sooner than later
Notes: The Penguins will look to Kennedy to again provide the energy and uptempo play on whatever line he ends up with. Keep in mind that unlike every other forward on the roster (except enforcer Eric Godard), Kennedy is the only right handed shot on the unit...Could that be an advantage if Crosby needs a linemate?
Interesting fact: Has a hit that can break glass. Somewhat resembles Paperboy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days...The Goon

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank

Player Name: Eric Godard
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 1st
Position: Right Wing
Age: 28
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2010-11 season, $750,000 cap hit per season

Last Season Stats: (Calgary Flames) 74 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist for 2 points, 171 PIMs (17 fights)
Last Season Write-up: From the sound of what Calgary fans said, Godard played his role fairly well last season....He only played about 4:42 a game, so not much offense was expected or given....Godard ran into the man he'll replace (at about half the price) and did reasonably well.
Career Year Stats: (2004-05 with Bridgeport Sound Tigers [AHL]) 75 gp, 7g, 11a = 18p 295 PIMs. We use this year because it was the lockout and the AHL was of strong competition. Well that and Godard has 3 goals and 5 assists in 200 career NHL games, so there isn't much of a high point there

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Godard is in his prime. He's 28 and as strong as he'll ever be.
Potential line-mates: Kris Beech, Jeff Taffe, Ryan Stone, any other 4th line winger
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 170 PIMs (hey we don't expect much offensively but how Godard can keep the heat off the skill guys will be important and interesting to watch now that the ultimate deterrent, Laraque, is gone.)
Notes: Here's Godard's fight card for last year, of which hockeyfights voters say Godard was 5 wins, 8 losses and 4 draws....Much different than Laraque's flawless record, but if you look at the quality of competition that Godard dropped the mits with (Derek Boogaard twice, Laraque, George Parros twice, DJ King, Scott Parker) it's clear that he's willing to stand up to the tough customers. And that's more important in most cases than a win or a draw.
Interesting fact: Not really that interesting compared to some of the links we have above, but Godard was traded from Florida to the New York Islanders in 2002 for a draft pick that turned into NHL'er Greg Campbell....Also, the only goal Godard scored last year (against Nashville) turned out to be a game-winner. So there's that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mike Toth is paying attention..

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

Nice try, Mike but it's a foot injury and Whitney's could be back three months from now (November) not three to five months from the start of the season.

28 profiles in 28 days...The Battletank

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days (sorry for the weekend pause). Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis.The Iceman

Player Name: Ruslan Fedotenko
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 2nd 2008
Draft Position: Left Wing
Age: 29
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season, $2,250,000 million cap hit per season


Last Season Stats: (New York Islanders) 67 games played, 16 goals, 17 assists for 33 points,
Last Season Write-up: In Fedotenko's only season with the Isles (though it seemed like he was there longer than that) he put up those modest numbers on the weak team.
Career Year Stats: (2005-06 with Tampa Bay) 80 gp, 26g, 15a = 41p

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: At 29 years old, Fedotenko has likely developed into his prime.
Expected 2008-09 role: 1st/2nd/3rd line winger. Rusty is something of a diverse player. Like Ryan Malone he's got the big body and nose for the net. Also like Bugsy, he's best when working with players that can lug the puck up the ice for him and then finish up in front of the net. In Feds' seven year NHL career he's averaged 17.5 goals a season and has been pretty consistent in scoring about 16-17 a year.
Potential line-mates: Pretty much every forward...Could be with Crosby or Malkin but could be with guys like Staal, Dupuis, Cooke and Kennedy on a more defensive minded line.
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 20 goals, 25 assists, 45 points
Notes: Signed a one year deal with the Pens...Like Malone, has more career NHL goals than assists....When on a scoring streak he's on it; as evidenced by the 12 playoff goals he scored for Tampa in 2004 (tied for the lead).
Interesting fact: There are only three active forwards in the NHL from the Ukraine: Fedotenko, Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky and New York's (disputed) Nikolai Zherdev.

Friday, August 22, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days....The Iceman

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One

This grainy, small picture may be all the photographic evidence we have of the Iceman...Well, that and it was captured for youtube. What's best about this clip: the expression on Fleury's face, "can't breath" or the constant cackling by Max Talbot? We can't decide.

Player Name: Pascal Dupuis
How Acquired: Acquired (with some other homo) from Atlanta on Feburary 26th, 2008
Draft Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Age: 29 (will turn 30 in April)
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2010-11 season, $1,400,000 million cap hit per season


Last Season Stats: (Pittsburgh and Atlanta combined) 78 games played, 12 goals, 15 assists for 27 points, [Playoffs: 20 gp, 2g, 5a = 7p]
Last Season Write-up: Dupuis was wonderful in his regular season role with the Penguins, scoring 12 points (2g, 10a) in 16 games down the stretch. He can play on the top line riding shotgun with the skill players but also has the grit, speed and defensive awareness to be a solid 3rd line player
Career Year Stats: (2002-03 with Minnesota) 80 gp, 20g, 28a = 48p

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Dupuis' three year contract figures stretches over his prime years (29, 30, 31).
Expected 2008-09 role: Diverse....He could be a top line winger with Crosby at even strength one period, and then be in a defensive role on the third line the next period. The game situation--plus early success at point production-- could determine Dupuis to lineup anywhere. Dupper is a "glue" guy and every team needs glue guy. You can tell by how famously he gets along with teammates and makes the locker-room a fun place...But on the ice the Iceman is a professional; all business.
Potential line-mates: Pretty much every forward
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 20 goals, 30 assists, 50 points
Notes: How important is Dupuis to the team? You be the judge on how well he fit in with his new mates...

"When [Crosby] eats, Maxime Talbot must sit on his left, Pascal Dupuis on his right. At a recent team breakfast in Detroit, a Penguins staffer sat down to eat, and was met with shocked stares from the players sitting around him.

"That's Sid's seat!" they said.

"He wouldn't have gotten mad or anything, he's too nice for that," says the seat-stealer. "

Interesting fact: To our endless delight Dupper took the time to spell out in hockey tape who his best buddy is during the Penguins' April 'Shirts off our backs' ceremony, just a few weeks after he joined the team.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days....The Chosen One

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech
Matt Cooke

Player Name: Sidney Crosby
How Acquired: Drafted 1st overall 2005 NHL Entry Draft
Position: Center
Age: 21
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2012-13 season, $8.7 million cap hit per season

Last Season Stats: 53 games played, 24 goals, 48 assists for 72 points, [Playoffs: 20 gp, 6g, 21a = 27p]
Last Season Write-up: Obviously a tough go for Crosby with the ankle injury that held him out of 29 games from January to April, not the way he wanted to follow up his previous season of winning practically every major individual...Still bounced back and led the Pens (and tied for the league) in playoff scoring.
Career Year Stats: (2006-07) 79 gp 36g, 84a, 120p

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Still progressing, hey he's still 21 and has grown his game in the faceoff circle
Expected 2008-09 role: 1st line center, face of the team, league and sport
Potential line-mates: Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Pascal Dupuis, Evgeni Malkin
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 40 goals, 90 assists, 130 points
Notes: The short off-season may hit Crosby more than most, being as he had a rib injury and that ankle wasn't 100% during the playoffs....How he will bounce back with replacing Satan for Hossa isn't much a concern, Crosby's played with less skilled wingers (Armstrong, Old Man Recchi, etc) and put up points. We could go on with more news and notes, but we guess Bing gets enough press and pixels on his every movement.
Interesting fact: Every fact about Crosby is pretty much known...But here's something, in all our research, that surprised us. It's Crosby, not Mario Lemieux, that set the Penguins rookie mark for most assists (63 to 61) and points (102 to 100). That might be common knowledge, but it had slipped our minds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days....The New Ruu

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech

Player Name: Matt Cooke
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 6th
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Age: Turns 30 in September
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2009-10 season, $1.2 million per season

Last Season Stats: (combined Vancouver and Washington) 78 games played, 10 goals, 13 assists for 23 points, 91 PIMS, 198 hits
Last Season Write-up: Cooke was traded to Washington last season and played well down the stretch, scoring 7 points in the final 17 regular season games, though he was pointless in seven playoff games....Cooke's hits had him ranked 9th in the league for forwards
Career Year Stats: 2002-03: (Vancouver)-- 82 gp, 15g, 27a = 42 points and 82 PIMS

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: At the age of 30 with 583 NHL games under his belt, Cooke is in his prime.
Expected 2008-09 role: The new Jarkko Ruutu....Agiatate, grind, hit, muck be a pest.
Potential line-mates: Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, Maxime Talbot, Kris Beech, Janne Pesonen
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 15 goals, 25 assists, 40 points
Notes: Cooke is the new Ruutu, and as a former teammate from Vancouver, he knows the role he's been brought to play. He'll have a hard motor, hit everything that moves and be on his game when he's got others off of theirs'.
Interesting fact: Like Ruutu, Matt Cooke is a former winner of the Frank J. Hume Award, given yearly to the "Unsung Hero" of the Vancouver Canucks by their booster club.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Same blood....Different heart"

If you know about Wee-bay and Namond, you will probably get the reference in the title to the greatest show on television ..

Anyways, apparently the kid Columbus drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft doesn't have the heart and is ready to hang 'em up before the age of 20. While this is America (or at least North America, being as he's Canadian) and every person gets to chose his own destiny, it is surprising that someone with such the perceived talent for hockey would choose to quit with seemingly no reason other than just not losing heart.

The lifestyle, the room, the fun, the boys, the exposure, the money....It's hard to believe that anyone would give it up willingly.

But Godspeed Stefan Legein, for your sake in this blog it's a good thing the Pens didn't draft you.

28 Profiles in 28 Days...The Unwanted one

uWith our recent revelation it's only 28 more days until the Pens take the ice, we thought why not profile a player a day until camp begins. It may help the days pass and will get us on a regular schedule around here. Plus none of the 34,289,823 other Penguins blogs on the series of tubes has thought of it yet.

We'll start at the top of the list alphabetically, which means unfortunately today's spotlight is on Kris Beech.

28 Profiles in 28 days

Player Name: Kris Beech
How Acquired: Claimed off waivers on 1/26/08
Position: Center
Age: 27 (28 in Feburary)
Contract Situation: $585,000 (free agent after this season)

Last Season Stats: (combined between Columbus, Vancouver and Pittsburgh) 25 games played, 6 goals, 5 assists....In AHL Syracuse 16 gp, 5g, 10 assists
Last Season Write-up: Beech must have set some sort of record in switching teams four times in a 16 day stretch from 10-26 January (from Columbus to Vancouver to Washington to Pittsburgh)....Suffered broken wrist that effectively ended season in mid February...Signed back to the Penguins on a one-year, two-way deal
Career Year Stats: 2006-07 with Washington (64 games played, 8 goals, 18 assists, -11)

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: ?
Expected 2008-09 role: Will compete with Jeff Taffe for the 4th line center job in training camp, the loser could be come the 13th spare forward or be risked to waivers to try to be a scorer at the AHL level.
Potential line-mates: Lower liners like Eric Godard, Matt Cooke, perhaps Janne Pesonen, Tyler Kennedy, Ryan Stone
“Best case scenario” stats: 0 games, 0 goals, 0 assists....(Ok, so that's best case for us fans...Anyways Beech won't be expected to score much but if he is seen in the Pittsburgh lineup it wouldn't be too much to ask he keeps his +/- close to zero and chip in the odd point)
Notes: Former Penguins GM Craig Patrick once said Kris Beech was a "Ron Francis-type" player, which is one of the reasons that Patrick is the former GM.
Interesting fact: The last time Kris Beech scored a goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins was April 10th, 2002.

Just Four More Weeks

Time is a funny thing. In one respect, the summer has felt endless with the lasting memories of Red Wings celebrating on Penguin ice. We've been mired in the months of June, July and now August for seemingly ever.

But in four weeks, 28 days, the Penguins will take to the ice for pre-season practice. They'll actually meet up to take care of off-ice details (physicals, meetings, etc) in 27 days.

And in that regards, it's just around the corner. Before you know it there will seemingly be two losses in a row and calls for Michel Therrien's head. There will be the sensational Evgeni Malkin rushes, the precision of a heavy Sergei Gonchar shot and the sound of Pascal Dupuis and Maxime Talbot shredding the ice as they furiously chop their way around the rink.

Yep, if you listen closely you can almost hear the faint tune and see Marc-Andre Fleury's smile....Sidney's tuning up the band, it's almost time to bring the boys together.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hockey News: Pens #2 in conference

Via Puck Daddy:

Eastern Conference
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Washington Capitals
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. Ottawa Senators
6. New York Rangers
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Carolina Hurricanes
9. Tampa Bay Lightning
10. Boston Bruins
11. Buffalo Sabres
12. Florida Panthers
13. Atlanta Thrashers
14. Toronto Maple Leafs
15. New York Islanders

This really isn't too bold. It's pretty much all the top teams from last year at the top, and the weak teams from last year at the bottom; with a slight step back for Boston and a step ahead for Carolina.

Obviously if/when Mats Sundin decides on a team (and the Rangers and Philly may or may not be on his short-list, though it would take a lot of salary cap wrangling) that could tip the balance of power too.

Puck Daddy asked:

So the Pens still win the division?

We're biased, but we think so. The Atlantic division will, as always, be very competitive and the Rangers, Flyers and possibly Devils are all relative summer locks to be playoff teams. But each has their flaws.

--The Pens ran over Philly last year and beyond Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen, we're not sold on the rest of their defense. Plus, Marty Biron sucks.

--The Rangers re-loaded significantly on offense, losing Jaromir Jagr and (possibly) Brenden Shanahan and replacing them with Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdev. Neither Naslund or Zherdev are very good away from the puck at this point. Plus Wade Redden is on this team. It's hard to respect a man that Ryan Whitney made his bitch.

--Paul Martin, Bryce Salvador, Collin White, Vitaly Vishnevski, Andy Greene, Mike Mottau, Johnny Oduya. That's the Devils defense and they have a 36 year old Martin Brodeur. That's not going to hold the Pens back.

So yeah, we think the Pens have the leg up on the rest of the division, in effect since they destroyed the Rangers and the Flyers in the playoffs. Even if that team did lose Hossa, Malone, Roberts, etc they've gained a year of experience for the core and added guys like Satan and Fedotenko to try to fill the gaps.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Whitney to miss 3-5 months

Well, this sucks.

Ryan Whitney had surgery yesterday (Friday) to correct a nagging foot problem. Whitney is expected to be out 3-5 months, which puts the window of his return somewhere between mid November and January.

Bad news but not the worst. GM Ray Shero likes to keep 10 defensemen that can play in the NHL, and by the looks of it he has that by keeping Brooks Orpik and trading for Danny Richmond.

Losing Whitney is a blow, since many (including us) thought he would have a big-time bounce back season. Whitney played 5:14 a game on the power play (second on the team only to Sergei Gonchar) and 22:56 overall (again second on the team only to Gonchar). And despite being lamabasted by most Pens fans, Whitney still scored 12 goals (tied for 13th in the league) and tacked on 28 assists. Someone's got to pick up those minutes and that production.

Look no further than Kris Letang. The now 21 year old defenseman has more games under his belt and was gradually given more and more responsibility and ice over the course of last season. Letang averaged 18:09 a game and 2:35 on the PP. Expect those numbers to go up.

With the Penguins still boasting some fairly steady defensive defensemen on the roster (Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill even Daryl Sydor) the Penguins still have some breathing room. Talented prospect Alex Goligoski might now get a longer look in camp, as he is a smooth skating, puck moving offensively skilled defenseman.

So this isn't the worst news possible and at least happens with some time to let Whitney get his foot right and heal up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The House that Mario's Building

"This is an exciting day for the Penguins and our region, and we will be proud to be the anchor tenant of this new multi-purpose facility,” said Lemieux. “We look forward to opening the NHL season here in October 2010.”

An exciting day for us all. And to think just 18 months ago it was all so uncertain: different interests between the city/county/state, residents, the team, and all it's many suitors, be they individuals or cities. Not to mention that on the ice, the team hadn't iced a playoff squad in almost six years. (though they were on their way).

It's been a whirlwind of change and progress for the Pittsburgh Penguins lately. Groundbreaking day is a celebratory day for the work already completed, but also a day that sees the bright hope of the future. Surely in few other places will that promise be as bright as it is right now for the Pens.

We're all experiencing the evolution, indeed.

So thanks Mario, thanks Ravenstahl, Onorato, Rendell and all the other nameless "forces that be" in politics that found a way to make it work. Thanks to that lucky lottery ball for Sidney, thanks Bettman for believing in Pittsburgh, thanks Burkle for throwing some of your financial muscle around and being patient. Thanks IoC folks (in light of recent events, maybe you should have won the casino license afterall).

And while we're at it, how about sending the old Mellon out with a better taste than having to see the other team skate the Cup. Surely the old Igloo deserves that much.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Please someone donate $3,062 to Sweater Ted

If you are interested in traveling to Sweden and attending these games, Summit Performance Group is offering a Pittsburgh Penguins Fans Trip. The trip package:

-5-Day/4-Nights accommodations at the Nordic Light Hotel(or similar property) in Stockholm, Sweden
-Upper Level Tickets at the Globe Arena to the Penguins season opening games against the Ottawa Senators on October 4th and 5th with bus transfers
-Welcome Reception at Hotel on the Evening of October 2nd
-½ day Stockholm City Tour
-Breakfast each day at the hotel
-Attendance at a Penguins Practice
-Commemorative Gift
Summit Performance Group pre and on-site management; Travel with international event and travel experts.

Upper level tickets??? Come on. OK, still tell us more...

The trip package costs $3,062 per person (single occupancy) or $2,250 per person (double occupancy). These prices include VAT and all other taxes

Oh damn. Well expensive, but for all travel arrangements it's not too bad for a 5 day Swedish vacation to chase some Swedish chicks as well as watch the Penguins, right?
Package does not include air travel to Stockholm, personal items/incidentals and optional excursions. Air travel to Stockholm can be arranged through Summit Performance Group.

Well thanks for still allowing me to arrange travel through your group....Dicks.

(Link comes from the Pens main site, if you're filthy rich and interested....If so, remember to remember me.)

Not that we would EVER talk back to Mr. Gary...

Maybe we have a note or two for our old friend ( article originally found by Seth at Empty Netters)

"People say, 'Oh, you're old, you can't play anymore,' but I truly believe it was kind of a fluke season," Roberts said. "Everybody has a year once and a while with injuries. I'm close to being 100 percent and really feel good coming in this year and having a good season."

Mr. Gary, ever since you turned 35 years old--you know, when most hockey players begin thinking about hanging 'em up, you've played in 69, 14, 72, 58, 69 and 38 games. That's a six year average of missing almost 30 games a season. At what point does it become a fluke.

Then again, we don't want to end up like this:

Or this:

So, you know....It's all a fluke!

Video game attributes

Kudos to goingfivehole for noting that IGN has a list of EA Sports attributes for the highly anticipated game NHL 09 (Penguins found here). As realistic as video games are becoming in sheer visuals, gameplay and environments, there's always some abnormalities. Of course though, ratings are so subjective and 100 observers will likely have close to that many opinions on who got shafted and who's over-rated...Looking at just the Pens here's some issues we have:

  • Maxime Talbot's speed is listed as 78. Among those ranked faster than him are Kris Beech (79) and Darryl Sydor (79).
  • Talbot should have taken some of Petr Sykora's speed. Petr is listed as a 90 (second on the team only to Sidney Crosby). Sykora is not that fast of a straight line skater this day and age.
  • Evgeni Malkin has a balance rating of 90. We all love Geno, but he falls down for no reason at least once or twice a game. There's plenty of categories to rate him extremely high in, but balance isn't one.
  • Wingers Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko have the same faceoff rating (70) as centers Malkin and Jordan Staal. We know Malkin and Staal aren't that adept in the faceoff circles, but who knew Satan and Rusty were, relatively speaking? Sykora is also a 69 here, an over-rating that probably most wingers have.
  • Beech, toughie Eric Godard and Danny Richmond. What do they have in common? They're the only players with a listed defensive awareness lower than Sergei Gonchar. That's a joke.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury only has a 75 poise rating. We think after his playoff performance that's a touch on the low side.
  • Matt Cooke only got a 74 for toughness while Ryan Whitney has an 80 there. Those numbers need reversed.
  • Whitney also got a 76 for aggressiveness. Too high, especially considering he's close to Pascal Dupuis (77) and Tyler Kennedy (78).
  • 14 players got a pretty standard 75 for poise. Among them was Talbot. Guess EA Sports didn't give much credit for the Game 5 last minute goal.

Overall we think Talbot is under-rated in a number of categories while guys like Whitney and Scuderi were made too aggressive and guys like Sykora and Satan are too fast. Gonchar didn't get enough credit for his defense (as usual).

We predict that Kennedy will have a fairly high overall rating, probably a touch too high considering where similiar players like Talbot and Dupuis are likely to come in.

All in all though it's not bad and we're excited to get to playing hockey in any form.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pens looking for one more forward?

Pittsburgh's Eklund, err we mean The Insider on Pittsburgh Sports recently had this to say:

According to a source, the Penguins are still looking for a forward that may compete for a top six position. There have been brief discussions with Brendan Shanahan but no contract offer has been made. Sources indicate there appears to be more interest from Shanahan's camp then the Penguins but the Penguins are looking into the possibility. The Penguins have targeted a few forwards for training camp invites. Geoff Sanderson could be one of those forwards. The Penguins are looking for additional speed and have talked to his agent. No offer has been made, just to check on his health and asking price. Previously I reported, Shero had brief discussions with the agent for Mark Parrish. Parrish is seeking a multi-year deal and the Penguins are not expected to pursue Parrish any further.

No doubt the guy has sources but we're not sure we bite. According to the main-stream conventional knowledge, the New York Rangers remain Shanahan's preference and Sanderson is a 36 year old player that looked out of gas with Edmonton last season.

The Penguins have four clear top 6 skill forwards nailed down (Crosby, Malkin, Satan, Sykora). Given the contract signed ($2.25 million), it's presumptive that Ruslan Fedotenko was brought in to play bigger than a 3rd line role. This leaves one wing open and a guy like Shanahan would fill some talent gap. But the Penguins could also use a committee of players that have had some success in big moments (Maxime Talbot, Pascal Dupuis) or give Finnish player Janne Pesonen a chance at the big time.

The Penguins have roughly $1.5 million in cap space, probably not enough for Shanahan anyways. Better to keep what's left of the small cushion they have then get a vet like Sanderson or Glen Murray who's best days are clearly behind. There's nothing wrong with checking in with players like Parrish or Shanahan to see what they're looking for---hell that's Ray Shero's job...But contact between multiple parties may not mean a move is as pressing as TIOPS may lead (or have been led) to believe.

We suspect perhaps some others are as bored in this mid-summer rut.

53 more days 'til Sweden.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Billy Tibbetts Urban Legend

OK, it's summer and to keep entertained, here's a quick little story we heard many years ago second-hand off a friend of a friend of a friend. In other words, it's an urban legend; probably not true to life at all.....But it is entertaining and, given the cast of characters, it doesn't seem out of place.

Billy Tibbetts is a name a lot of fans might not know. He is probably most famous for being out of hockey for four years while he was in jail from 1996-2000. The Penguins signed him and gave him a shot and it just didn't work out. Tibbetts played total of 62 games over two seasons with Pittsburgh (scoring 2 goals, 7 assists and registering 188 penalty minutes). He bounced around from Philadelphia to New York to Boston and a lot of minor league teams in between before running out of chances in the NHL. He now plays in Finland.

Tibbetts, for lack of better phrasing, just couldn't stay out of his own way. For instance, this quote from his Wikipedia page sort of sums up some of the troubles and various attitude problems and trouble with authority that Tibbetts just can't seem out of:

He was arrested early in the morning of August 13, 2007, after leading a Massachusetts State Police trooper on a high-speed chase from Scituate, MA to Abington, MA, where he crashed his 2007 BMW into a fence and a telephone pole, and fled on foot.

So with that background in mind, consider this folk-lore urban legend...

The story dates from one of Tibbetts' stints with the Penguins, sometime in 2001 or 2002. Billy was often getting called up or re-assigned to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The stress, excessive travel and uncertain day-to-day future of being a bubble player was starting to wear on the temperamental man so he was beginning to snap at those around him.

After games, visiting teams usually take showers, receive quick treatment if necessary and then get on a chartered team bus to be taken back to the hotel or airport. Players trickle onto the bus after the games and play cards, joke around with each other, talk on cell phones, sleep; normal type of stuff you'd expect. There is also a pecking order of who gets to sit where, with veterans calling seniority to get good seats at the front of the bus.

As the legend has it, Tibbetts was one of the first players on the bus and was able to snag a prized seat up front, opposite side of the driver. As players filed on, one of the veterans--among them rumored to be Kevin Stevens (who's a little gruff himself)--asked Tibbetts to move to the back, being as he was young player without many games played in the league. Tibbetts rebuffed strongly, not wanting to surrender his seat. There was a heated confrontation, nothing physical but an intense, vulgar exchange that would make George Carlin himself proud.

In the end, at the urging of other moderate team "graybeards" and to maintain peace, Tibbetts was ousted to the back of the bus and the vet got his choice seat. Stewing over this defeat and not wanting to look like a punk in front of his other colleagues, the hotheaded Tibbetts, as the story goes, allegedly thought up a quick plan for revenge.

Supposedly in Tibbetts hands was a cheeseburger that he was eating for a post-game meal. Fed up with getting jerked around and with his situation in general Tibbetts knew what he had to do. He flung the cheeseburger towards the front of the bus, towards the vet who embarrassed him publicly.

Unfortunately Billy Tibbetts wasn't a baseball player, his aim was off and in the fit of rage the cheeseburger supposedly sailed a clear foot over the sitting target's head. The burger was on a path to harmlessly hit the front windshield. Except, as the story goes, as fat would have it guess who just happened to be stepping on the bus at the same moment that Tibbetts hurled his projectile?

As the story goes, Tibbetts was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre the following day and soon after the Pens decided to cut ties with him.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

5 Ways I'd change the NHL

TST friend--and arguably the top dog of hockey blogging (despite what USA Hockey may say) Greg Wyshynski has been running a series asking famous folks the five things they'd change about the NHL. Washington Cap and all around good guy Matt Bradley was the latest.

Here's our list...

1) Every team plays in every city every year. A common gripe, but until it's addressed it's a valid one. Sure there are reasons not to do this like the high price of fuel and travel costs and the unfair reality of putting more miles on some of the Western Conference teams that are spread out. But the reality is all fans deserve to see guys like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla and the defending Stanley Cup Champion come to their city at least once. They play 82 games in a season, that's 41 games for season ticket holders. Division rivalries are great and all, but no one wants to see Coyotes/Stars or Panthers/Hurricanes eight times a year.

2) Eliminate the instigator rule. Players have been rallying around this for years. Hockey is the only major sport that has fighting, and whether you debate the necessity of that or not, there is an unwritten code. Cross the line and you have to answer the bell, either in that game or a following one. The instigator rule punishes those that enforce the code. Certainly at all times the referees should have the ability to assess major misconduct penalties to not let things get out of hand, but allow the players to police themselves. Assholes like Sean Avery are only emboldened when they can get away with anything because coaches and players can't make necessary moves to combat them.

3) Divisional playoff series. This will never happen because it is too complicated---unless the conferences were paired from three to two divisions, which would be difficult with the current 15 team layout. Still, rivalries are created in the post-season with teams battling against each other every other day for about two weeks with their livlihoods on the line. That's what generates heat.

4) Regulate goalie pads. This is starting to happen, albeit slowly. Goalies don't even look like hockey players anymore as much as they are Stay-Puft Marshmellow men. When they go down to a butterfly they take away well more than the six feet of net. Give them enough pads for protection that are necessary but hone down the excess and the J.S. Giguere and Garth Snow trapezoid chest protectors. It's scoring chances, not necessarily goals that create scoring chances, but give shooters more net to shoot at will benefit the game.

5) Three no-trade clauses per team. Player movement in the NHL is always frantic but it's estimated that about 120 out of the 700 players have some sort of no-trade/no-movement clause that bogs them down. Teams hand out these things like free candy. Established players deserve loyality, but it shouldn't have to be legally binding. Look at a team like Toronto that wants to rebuild but has been handcuffed by decisions to give many veterans these passes. And not to say it makes them lazy (they still are professional athletes) but the security of these clauses makes them untouchable. Limit franchises to only slap these on the select few players that deserve them.

6) Get the NHL back on ESPN. Nothing against Versus, a network that has come a long ways. But being on ESPN is being back on the radar of sports fans. The NHL has so many great players, especially ones that are young, that it is a shame they are not getting spotlighted. With more exposure going to the NFL, the MLB and the NBA, hockey is fading. Even with Winter Classics and NBC action and a little more attention the NHL is on par with Indy Racing, Arena Football and even poker in terms of recognition. Which is a shame. Get back to the "world wide leader" and give them the self-promotional reason those bastards need to hype the wonderful action. It's not ideal, but it's necessary.

Overall, we still think hockey is the greatest sport in the world. It's high impact, high intensity and a beautiful display of size, speed and skill. The shootout has largely worked, the Winter Classics give a unique celebration of the roots of the sport and the Stanley Cup is, bar none, the most prized, famous and greatest trophy in all of the world.

But there's always room for improvements, however unlikely the implementation of these ideas are.

Self proclaimed Geek predicts big things for Pens

"JavaGeek" did some sort of statistical prediction and says a 13 point improvement is in store for the Penguins in 2008-09. Unfortunately, as Japers points out, his rosters aren't the most accurate--the Geekster still lists Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen as Penguins--and we don't think it works that way.

Still, an interesting process. When the "Moneyball" craze hit baseball a couple of years ago we wondered if the spirit of the statistical theories applied to baseball could be used for hockey. As was highlighted on Kuklaskorner yesterday there are minds working on hockey-metrics to measure just this sort of thing to determine player value. To an extent, baseball is easier since every play begins the same way: batter steps in the box, pitcher delivers pitch. Hockey, being more free-flowing and more unstructured sport is a little more difficult to measure, we'd think. Still interesting stuff to dive into.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Crosby-oliday!

A kid no more but still our boy Bing takes more crap (for simply being a phenom) than anyone else in recent memory. Sure Bettman and NBC hype the Croz to no end, but he's far from a spotlight seeking athlete that brings it upon himself coughBrettFarvecough.

So, on your 21st bday Sid, here's to you and some special accomplishments:

--The most points/game before age 21 better anyone not named Gretzky or Lemieux
--Youngest permanent captain in the NHL (sorry Jonny Toews)
--Youngest player to win the Art Ross, Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophies

By the way, in case you're keeping track at home, the inevitable Crosby vs. Ovechkin tab:

Regular season stats before turning 21:
Ovechkin: 81 games, 52 goals, 54 assists (106 points)
Crosby: 213 games, 99 goals, 195 assists (294 points)

Playoff stats before turning 21:
Ovechkin: goose egg, goose egg (goose egg)
Crosby: 25 games, 9 goals 23 assists (32 points)


Ovechkin: 1
Crosby: 0

Pictures of biting a medal with another dude at the same time:

Ovechkin: 1
Crosby: 0

Happy Crosby-oliday everyone!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence

We're pretty sure this past six day break has been the longest we've taken from this blog in almost 11 months. Apologies for the slowness but that sort of comes with the territory of the off-season, especially when your author is without not only material but internet access too (though that is changing tomorrow).

Seth at Empty Netters took an idea we were going to do later this summer and show you the longest continuously tenured Penguin.

Here he is:

Brooks Orpik, NHL (and Penguin) debut on 12/10/2002. There are only two other current Penguins--well three if you really want to count Kris Beech--that laced 'em up for Pittsburgh pre-lockout days. One you should be able guess initially (Marc-Andre Fleury) but the other? Mr. Reliable, Rob Scuderi.