Hope everyone's had a great summer! We had a house full of cousins, uncles and grandparents from Belgrade and Kiev, and now that everyone's flown back and school is back in session, it's time to resume our daily look at the news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins.
First up, the Pens informal team skates continued on Monday, attended by about a dozen rostered players, including Sidney Crosby (for the first time) and Evgeni Malkin, who was miraculously not swallowed whole by a whale shark.
The Captain spent his summer as he usually does, training under the watchful eye of Andy O'Brien, first in Atlantic Canada, then in Florida, and concluding with an annual high-altitude session in Vail (rhymes with jail), where his team has again captured the Iron Elk.
Speaking of almost-arrest, he said he doesn't plan to sue the Ottawa Sun or the QMI Agency for the entertaining, however erroneous, report. Most importantly, he declared himself and his right wrist 100% healthy.
Olli Maatta, no longer a teen (turned 20 on August 22), is back as well. His surgically repaired shoulder is holding up well so far. He isn't cleared for contact yet, but looks good skating and handling the puck. Mike Johnston estimates he's about 2 weeks ahead of Derrick Pouliot, who's working his way back from a similar surgically repaired injury. Maata's will be one of the four bobbleheads scheduled to be given away this-coming season, and I want one!
Ryan Malone is expected to join the New York Rangers informal skates this week, hoping for perhaps a two-way contract offer coming his way. There continue to be persistent rumors about Bugsy desiring a possible return to Pittsburgh, but I hope he stays put in New York.
Mike Johnston is entering his first season with the Penguins with little, if any, job security. With Rick Tocchet back in the fold and Mike Babcock entering the last year of his contract and in no apparent rush to sign an extension with the Red Wings, one doesn't have to be paranoid to see how Johnston is literally a place-holder. Everyone's on a 1-year deal around here, folks.
Last, but certainly not least: this-coming Thursday we will observe another solemn anniversary of 9/11. There is a new - and by all accounts great - book on the subject being released that very day: Flight 93: The Story, the Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11. Its author is none other than Tom McMillan, Penguins VP of Communications. I look forward to reading it.
At any rate, there are still not that many news at Consol, but hopefully as the workouts progress we'll see more guys come in and have more goings-on to share. Cheers!