January 27, Hustler and Lawless on TSN1290 Winnipeg
[Click here for the entire interview; DK is about 1 hour in.]
Dejan Kovacevic weighs in on Zac Rinaldo suspension: "The reaction in Pittsburgh really wasn't all that different from what I was able to gauge of the reaction in Philadelphia. Everyone was put back by this. Eight games? If you looked at the way the NHL delivered its justice on Daniel Carcillo for the vicious crosscheck against the Jets Mathieu Perreault, and you look at this, what Zac Rinaldo did... skating across the ice, not only blindsiding Kris Letang, but injuring him, sending him into the glass, and then bragging about it after the game, you know, then refusing his hearing, and all he gets is 2 additional games over what Carcillo had? It just boggles the mind. I couldn't picture being a fly on the wall in that room listening to these guys hash out nonsense that would somehow justify 'you know what we gotta be fair to Zac Rinaldo.' No you don't, throw him out of the league. That's what you gotta do. And you know what else you gotta do, guys? You gotta start fining the teams that are responsible, and yes that includes Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, and any other team that harbors someone like that on their roster. You start fining or punishing the teams and this stuff will stop in heartbeat."
Even under the current, flawed system, I thought this was a little light. I was thinking 10, but it could have been 20, 30, or the season and I don't think it changes how Rinaldo plays. As Kovacevic notes, you have to hit the teams hard if you really want this stuff taken care of. The only price the Flyers pay is not being able to dress Rinaldo, which is like sending a kid to his room, where he has a TV, Xbox, computer, and tablet. It's been almost 4 years since Mario Lemieux called for team fines to go along with suspensions. Amazingly, that article states a similar plan had "already been in the works for a long time before Lemieux suggested it." Well, it's been almost 4 years, so what happened?
January 28, Hockey Central on Sportsnet960 Calgary
[Click here for the entire interview]
Mike Colligan on how David Perron's fit in so far: "It's been great, not just the numbers, but his ability just to mesh with Sidney Crosby, and I think he'd be very good with Evgeni Malkin if he got the opportunity as well. He's a guy that's creative, he has a nice right-handed shot which is valuable for Pittsburgh, and his ability to find the open place in the slot and get open. That's what Chris Kunitz does very well alongside Sidney Crosby is he finds the soft areas in the defense, and when you think of a guy like Crosby, he's drawing 1, 2, 3 defenders, drawing that attention to him, so if you can get into the right places, he'll find a way to get you the puck, and that's what he's done with Perron, and Perron is finishing those opportunities from the middle of the ice. I think the timing is interesting too. The Jarome Iginla trade a couple years ago was right at the deadline. It didn't give Iginla a lot of time to develop chemistry and develop a fit in the Penguins' lineup and Jim Rutherford's a guy that usually makes a big move around the December-January time-frame. If you look back at his history, it's almost every year he's making a significant move. I think that allows Perron to come in, and even if he hadn't gotten off to this torrid start, he'd have a chance to really work his way into the lineup and have a couple months to mesh with Crosby or Malkin on that top 6. That said, he's had great success so far, so it doesn't look like that will even be a factor as we go down the stretch here."
Perron's been a really great fit here. Colligan also talked about how impressive it's been that despite all the options available to the Pens, Perron has found a way on to the top power play unit. Given his particular set of skills, you'd be hard pressed to make the case he shouldn't stay there. He's a good passer, great finisher, he's patient with the puck, and he's better in front of the net than people think. There's no better option to play at the bottom of the left circle. When (if?), the Pens are at full health, his spot should be a given, along with Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. The other spot would depend on how you want to set up. If you go Perron/Letang at the top and bottom of the left circle and Crosby/Malkin on the right, then maybe Paul Martin sets up at center point, with Perron/Crosby rotating through the slot. Or if you want a consistent net-front guy, you drop Patric Hornqvist there, and have Malkin/Letang rotate through the center point up top.
January 30, TribLIVE Radio, Pens Roundtable
[Click here for the entire show.]
Jason Mackey found out what's been up with Simon Despres and this mystery illness that's been dogging him lately: "He hasn't been able to breathe. I found out this morning. It's a hereditary condition, that his dad had as well. He gets really bad chest congestion about twice a year. I was talking to him and he kept coughing and coughing and coughing and we started talking about that and he said, honestly he's just had a very tough time breathing."
Chest congestion doesn't sound like much, but when you can't breathe well, it's going to take a toll on you. I would imagine when you're trying to play a sport at its highest level, that toll would be even more pronounced. On Friday, it looked like he had turned the corner on it, but yesterday, it looked like the congestion had spread to his head.
Josh Yohe on the latest edition of #JagrWatch: "It's kind of a mixed bag. I've spoken with a couple of people in the organization who think Jaromir Jagr would fit well with Malkin, and it sounds like indeed they are interested in pursuing him. I've also talked to a couple of people who've said 'nah, not gonna happen.' I think it's a financial problem more than anything else. The Penguins are up against the cap. To get him in Pittsburgh, somebody who makes some significant money has to go. I still don't think it's likely, I wouldn't bet on it happening, but in a perfect world would Rutherford consider bringing Jagr here? Yeah, I think he would and I think they'll talk before it's all said and done. Obviously, he's going to be traded. He serves no purpose in Jersey right now. They could save a little bit of money, get a prospect or a pick. If they can get rid of him, they will do so. The Rangers and Islanders are reportedly also interested, so we'll see."
Jagr was my favorite player at one point, so strictly from the story aspect, I'd love to see him back. On-ice, I think he could work with Malkin, but I'm not sure how you get him enough minutes to keep his production up, particularly on the PP. The Pens already have two guys in 87 and 71 that want the RW half-boards, and that's where 68 would go Is it worth getting a Jagr if he's going to be on your second unit? Money-wise it could be tricky, but as Mike Colligan points out, it could be done.
January 30, Penguins Live
Michelle Crechiolo on the 4-0 loss in DC: "Myself and Sam Kasan, my boss, we do our three impressions after every game where we get one of the assistant coaches or if we're lucky, an assistant general manger or somebody in the booth that can give us a different perspective from bench or management group and after last game it was Gary Agnew. He looked at me and said 'I don't have a lot for you, can you help me out?' and I said, 'Well maybe from where we sat, it didn't look all that great, it looked like a bad effort, but maybe there's something else in there you can give us, something positive to take out of it.' and he's just kinda 'nope, I got nothing for you.' and that's the kind of game it was. There were not any positives at all to take out of that game."
Crechiolo did backtrack a little later in the segment, citing Marc-Andre Fleury as "the only bright spot" on the Pens side, but overall, this game was a debacle and Agnew's comments really underscore that. There have been too many games recently where that's been the case. He's a great goalie, but if he's the only one to show up for a game, it's not going to end well.
January 30, The PensNation Radio Show
[Click here for the entire show.]
Ian Altenbaugh of Hockey's Future joined host Ken Will to talk pucks. Will mentioned the Pens recent slide, saying "I personally, I'm not panicking yet. Where do you sit on this?" Altenbaugh cited the 2012 LA Kings and said "As long as they're positioned to make the playoffs, it's all about getting hot at the right time, getting healthy at the right time. I'm not worried yet." Will also pointed out that "since the beginning of December until now, they've very much been in survival mode" citing all the mumps outbreak and all of the injuries they've been dealing with.
I don't know what to make of this team right now. They've put in some really good efforts (Jets, Blackhawks, Devils) and some equally bad ones (Rangers, Capitals, Predators). I'm not sure I remember a team that's been this up-and-down from game to game. When they were healthiest, they were pretty good and while they are healthier now than the have been in a while, they are still down 2/3 of their second line with Malkin and Blake Comeau. For all the talk of improved depth, it doesn't seem like it's quite working out that way at the moment. That said, the Pens are just four points out of the top spot in the East. Maybe we should just reserve judgement until we see how they look when (if?) they get healthy. Besides, if the regular season doesn't matter when this team plays well, it shouldn't matter when they don't, right?