I'm not going to embellish or even create some kind of spectacle around the team tonight. In fact I can't lie - it's not exactly what you'd call an exciting day. Next to the Pens sending Nasreddine and Filewich back down to the minors, not much has gone on around the Penguins camp on this off day.
Perhaps that's a good thing though. Come to think of it, every bit of news coming from the Pens lately has had something to do with an injury, illness or border problem for players across the map.
Speaking of map, and yes this is a crappy transition, but remember the opening game in Sweden? According to some sources, that has yet to even become official. Apparently the NHL announced the overseas 2008 extravaganza during the All-Star Game before it was even voted on by the NHLPA. Spokesmen from the players' union have been awfully vocal on the point. Hell, even players have been.
"Spending money to go play in Europe is not doing anything for the NHL in the United States. We're talking about wanting a bigger market for hockey in the U.S. What are we going to accomplish by going to Europe? What are we doing? The league needs to do better work to make the game popular in the U.S."
I couldn't agree with him more. Truth is, the NHL is treating these overseas games as if they are monumental, record-setting achievements. It's not. When every arena in the US and Canada sells out at least five - ten games a season, then that's monumental for the league AND the sport. Opening your season up in Czechoslovakia or Sweden doesn't necessarily prove anything at all. It simply leads to more diatribes like this one here.
Last I checked, the NHLPA was extremely peeved about Bettman's announcement of the games. I really wish I had the article still, but it's buried deep in my endless list of story-related links. Roughly speaking, the NHLPA said it isn't nearly as easy as just announcing games overseas. Extensive planning and accommodations have to be situated, including but not limited to air travel, security, ice maintenance and hotel accommodations.
I plan on staying on top of this Euro-thing as it unravels for the sheer fact it involves the Pens. But let's just say I'm not making it a priority to follow. The team still has the rest of the season to play, a division to win and a cup to pursue. So, until the off-season when the cup comes back to Pitt, this is certainly at the bottom of my to-do list.