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					Sunday, March 1, 2009

HOCKEY DAY IN

B3
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

PITTSBURGH
STAY UP TO DATE ONLINE AT WWW.PGHTRIB.COM/PENGUINS

ON DECK
THE WEEK AHEAD: PENS OPPONENTS >>>
TODAY PENGUINS at STARS 3 P.M.
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TUESDAY PENGUINS at LIGHTNING 7:30 P.M.

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THURSDAY PENGUINS at PANTHERS 7:30 P.M.

TUESDAY · 10:30 P.M. STARS at SHARKS

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NHL GAME OF THE WEEK >>>

Count the Stars as one team no Western Conference club wants to play in the opening playoff round, especially San Jose, which lost a second-round series to Dallas last season.

FUNNY, AND OUT

SYKIE SYNORA
Something has to give for the Penguins to re-sign RW Petr Sykora, who can test the freeagent market July 1. Sykora is due a raise on his $2.5 million annual salary, but would give the Penguins a so-called hometown discount. However, he is seeking more than a two-year deal, and GM Ray Shero is holding firm on a two-year offer. A three-year deal totaling $10 million would probably work for Sykora.

SARGE FOR LIFE
D Sergei Gonchar hopes to finish his NHL career with the Penguins. He is set to enter the final season of his contract on July 1, and the Penguins cannot negotiate with him until that date. Gonchar, 35, likely will need to accept less than his current $5 million average salary due to an expected dip in the league’s salary cap. Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin support attempts to retain Gonchar.

“FAN VOICE”
SOUNDING OFF ON THE NHL

jasonCARVER
Arlington, Va.
GOT HOCKEY THOUGHTS? E-MAIL HOCKEYDAY@TRIBWEB.COM

“HAT TRICK”
ROB ROSSI’S THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS AS THE PENGUINS BEAT WRITER
Contact Rob at rrossi@tribweb.com

“To say Alexander Ovechkin ‘edged’ Sidney Crosby in the voting for the Calder Trophy (in 2006) is akin to saying Ronald Reagan ‘edged’ Walter Mondale in the 1984 presidential election. Ovechkin received 124 of 129 first-place votes in the Calder Trophy voting. I guess ‘edged’ is a relative term, but generally it implies some closeness in margin of victory. Other than that, a fine article indeed (Feb. 24).”

C/LW Max Talbot said he feels “no extra pressure” to keep the Penguins’ dressing room loose in the wake of a Thursday trade that sent D Ryan Whitney to Anaheim. “We have a lot of guys in there that can still do that,” Talbot said. Whitney was the second extremely well-liked player traded in 12 months; RW Colby Armstrong was part of a deal last year that landed RW Marian Hossa and LW Pascal Dupuis.

DIARY OF A MADMAN Rob Rossi recaps his 24 hours leading to the 2008 NHL trade deadline

24 HOURS trade OF CHAOS & EXHAUSTION DEADLINE
FEBRUARY 26
12:45 A.M.
Another call from the Atlanta colleague. “Looks like Hossa is going to Montreal unless somebody snags him at the last minute.”

FEBRUARY 25
3P .M.
While sucking down red Swedish Fish and surfing several hockey Web sites on my laptop from Pittsburgh International Airport, I text a fellow hockey scribe in Toronto for the latest update on Maple Leafs D Hal Gill, a player I’m told the Penguins would like to add.

4 A.M.
A Canadian colleague that also isn’t sleeping asks by text, “What wuld ur club give for Hossa?”

2P .M.
A Penguins player texts, “Gill?”

2:10 P .M.
A New York colleague says, “The longer this goes without Hossa going somewhere, the more I think he’s going to play with Crosby.” ... 2:30 p.m. I tell my editor, “It’s Gill, I’m sure, but Hossa seems headed for Montreal.”

6 A.M.
Shower. Breakfast. Forty-five minutes of freedom await …

4:30 P .M.
Aboard a plane to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a stranger asks if I think the Penguins will “get (then-Atlanta RW Marian) Hossa” before 3 p.m. tomorrow. “No chance,” I say, rolling my eyes in the process.

10:15 P .M.
From three quick-hit phone calls, I deduce Gill will not become a Penguin tonight. I convey this via a text to the Toronto colleague. “Tomorrow then,” his text reads. “Hal thinks he’s going somewhere.”

6:05 A.M.
“Are your guys getting Hal Gill? I think so,” a New York colleague poses via e-mail.

2:45 P .M.
Officially, the Pens have acquired Gill for a 2008 second-round draft pick.

6:20 P .M.
“Does anybody check bags these days,” I wonder aloud as an otherwise kind lady drops her carry-on luggage on my left foot.

6:23 P .M.
Score one for the Toronto colleague, who texts “gill scratched – your turn.”

6:24 P .M.
I place calls to several parties from the LaGuardia Marriott, where I plan on getting zero minutes of sleep before leaving tomorrow morning for Uniondale to cover Penguins-Islanders.

8:30 A.M.
While riding as a car passenger to Nassau Coliseum, I leave the driver awe-struck at my ability to talk into one phone and check email on another while surfing the web on my laptop all the while. ... 8:31 a.m. “You want to try driving, too?” the driver asks.

10:55 P .M.
I answer an unknown phone number, often a mistake, and speak with a colleague in Atlanta. The subject: Hossa. His question: “So, what if …”

12:15 P .M.
I ask Penguins C Erik Christensen for his phone number “just in case.” “Nah,” he says. “Bad luck.” ... 12:40 p.m. “Rossi, bud,” RW Colby Armstrong asks, “are we getting Hal Gill?” I nod. “Let me know what you hear?”

2:47 P .M.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins,” jokes a New York colleague.

7:45 P .M.
“Anything?” reads a text from the Toronto colleague.

7:46 P .M.
“Ha ha ha – Gill – ha ha ha” reads a text from a Penguins employee.

2:48 P .M.
With my Web update on Gill almost complete, I note an email from the Canadian colleague. All caps. “YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS …” ... 2:49 p.m. TSN’s deadline day show reports the Penguins have acquired Hossa and winger Pascal Dupuis for Christensen, Armstrong, prospect Angelo Esposito and a 2009 first-round pick. ... 2:50 p.m. Words not fit for print fill the Coliseum’s deadlineday room. ... 2:52 p.m. Text from a former Penguins player reads “told ya.”

8:10 P .M.
Into my email inbox pops this note from an agent who represents a few Penguins. “Gill will be a Penguin, write it down.” The email also predicts that “(Penguins GM) Ray (Shero) will do something big tomorrow.”

11:30 P .M.
At the urging of a friend, I check out a certain rumor-heavy Web site, which over the past few weeks has had everybody but Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky and Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux coming to the Penguins. ... 11:45 p.m. I finally stop laughing at said Web site’s latest so-called updates.

1:15 P .M.
“Gill is coming,” reports an agent via e-mail.

9:30 A.M.
We arrive at the Coliseum for the morning skate. I am thrilled to learn the Islanders media relations staff will provide a room with a TV for reporters to follow the TSN draft day special airing on NHL Network. ... 9:50 a.m. The Islanders are also providing food! For today, the team’s marketing slogan – “We’re All Islanders” – is true.

1:30 P .M.
I drop a text to the Atlanta and Canadian colleagues: “Hossa word?”

Almost all day and night are spent answering calls, sending texts and receiving texts and e-mails.

3P .M.
No official word from the Penguins on the reported Hossa acquisition. ...

9P .M.
Phone call from a former Penguins player. “They’ll get somebody to play with (center Sidney Crosby),” he says. “Trust me.” ... 9:50 p.m. A current Penguins player texts, inquiring as to “what (I’m) hearing.”

1:40 P .M.
Canadian colleague emails with rumor that the Montreal Canadiens Web site is ready to promote Hossa’s arrival.

3:02 P .M.
Official word. Now the fun begins …

“THE FUTURE”

PENGUINS MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT

JONATHAN BOMBULIE · FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Pack since the middle of February, preparing for what he hopes is a return to the NHL. Avery jawed with winger Paul Bissonnette during warm-ups, scored his first AHL goal of the season in the first period and slashed defenseman Deryk Engelland in the back of the legs behind the play in the second as Hartford cruised to a 5-1 victory Wednesday. Still, the Baby Pens didn’t seem terribly impressed. “I don’t think it was any different than any other guy,” Engelland said. “Every team’s got a guy that chirps. No big deal.” has one goal in his past 15 games. Rookie winger Nick Johnson has one goal in his past 14 games.

The television in the players’ lounge is tuned to the NHL Network. The computer in the equipment manager’s office calls up a Canadian sports Web site. At this time of year, the Baby Pens, even the ones whose names aren’t prominently mentioned in rumors, pay attention to which way the NHL trade winds are blowing. “I don’t think anybody’s ever safe,” veteran center Jeff Taffe said. “If a team wants you bad enough, they’d be willing to (make a trade). It’s definitely not out of the back of my mind. You can get the call any day. At least it means another team wants you, from a positive standpoint.”

“STOCK UP”
alexGOLIGOSKI
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON — DEFENSE 6-FOOT, 178 POUNDS

WITH THE ASSIST
The Baby Pens filled a vacancy in the assistant-coach department by hiring Chris Cichocki on an interim basis. Cichocki, who played 68 NHL games for Detroit and New Jersey from 1985-89, has been a head coach in the ECHL for the better part of the past eight seasons. Before Cichocki was hired, injured captain Dave Gove filled in as assistant coach.
AFC MEDIA

BAD BOY
The Baby Pens got their first look at Sean Avery this week. The notorious forward has been with the Hartford Wolf

STOCK DOWN
After tying a team record with their ninth straight win last Friday, the Baby Pens dropped two games in a row. Taffe
JONATHAN BOMBULIE HAS COVERED THE BABY PENS FOR THE CITIZENS’ VOICE IN WILKES-BARRE SINCE THE TEAM’S INCEPTION IN 1999. HE CAN BE REACHED AT JBOMBULIE@AOL.COM.

If trade-deadline deals necessitate Alex Goligoski being recalled from the Baby Pens, he’s ready. Goligoski has two goals and three assists in seven games since being sent down Feb. 7 and has quarterbacked the team’s power play effectively. “He’s been phenomenal since the day he stepped back here in WilkesBarre,” interim coach Todd Reirden said. JB


				
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