OPENING FACEOFF: 87 returns to practice
Penguins C Sidney Crosby practiced Tuesday for the first time since he left an exhibition game last Thursday because of a tight groin. His stride looked strong and sure, and his relaxed demeanor – always a telling point regarding Crosby’s health – indicated the story line that is his latest groin injury is soon to run its course.
“I feel better,” he said. “I’m not where I want to be but I’m progressing and hopefully by Friday it won’t be something to worry about.”
WORTH NOTHING: 71 given a day off
HC Dan Bylsma allowed C Evgeni Malkin to skip practice, giving Malkin two consecutive days off the ice. Malkin has played in 286 consecutive games, including 44 playoff contests, over the past three seasons; and Bylsma has pledged to take advantage of opportunities to rest his minutes-eating players during the upcoming season. Given the likelihood of Malkin, Crosby, and Ds Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik to play February in the Winter Olympics, off practice sessions are likely in their future.
MOVES N’AT: Bayda tops waiver list
Less than 24 hours after announcing the signing of LW Ryan Bayda to a one-year, two-way contract, the Penguins placed him on waivers today. If Bayda is not claimed by noon Wednesday he will be assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Also placed on waivers: RW Chris Conner, LW Paul Bissonnette, and Ds Nate Guenin and Deryk Engelland.
· The Penguins announced the signing of veteran D Martin Skoula to a one-year contract. Skoula is a nine-year NHL veteran and played for the 2001 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche. GM Ray Shero said Skoula will open the season as the club’s seventh defenseman, and he is on a one-way contract worth $575,000.
“He gives us something we’ve been looking for throughout the summer,” Shero said. “We wanted a little more experience with the extra defenseman, and he gives us more depth at a position we were pretty deep at last season. So, we’re going to give him a shot.”
Skoula, 29, has scored 41 goals and recorded 185 points in 724 games. He is a veteran of 29 playoff contests and played in Colorado when current Penguins AC Tony Granato served as a head coach and an assistant coach.
Rossi Analysis: History suggests Shero knows a good get – C Adam Hall in 2008 and recently Bayda. Skoula is a solid puck-mover on the blueline and should fit nicely with the way Bylsma wishes for his club to play. Also, given Gonchar’s left-shoulder and right-knee injuries last season and the hazards of D Jay McKee’s shot-blocking style, adding an extra defenseman to replace retired Philippe Boucher is a wise move. (Remember how valuable Philippe Boucher was in the playoffs last season?) Skoula is an upgrade over Guenin and Engelland.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Eaton on time waiting for no man…
Trib reporters share lighter moments from interactions with Penguins personnel:
D Mark Eaton joins me in asking, “What happened to this decade?” Seems Eaton and I share a common constant bewilderment – that being a “No, really!” reaction after clicking the information button on our television remotes and discovering that the movie on the screen was released in, say, 1999.
An example I offered is “Chasing Amy,” which I caught on a DirecTV subscription channel last weekend. The movie was released in 1997, and looking back I do remember sitting in the basement of a high-school friend’s parents’ house one winter during college break and watching Jay and Silent Bob open up a verbal can on Ben Affleck’s Holden McNeil as the film ended.
“It’s awful, man; I lost my 20s in this decade,” said I, of 31, to Eaton, who at 32 knows the feeling. “Every movie I watch on TV is, like, 10 or 15 years old, and I’m thinking, ‘Man, I can’t believe this is on TV already; it just came out.’”
Eaton added he feels the same way about music when he is in the car with his kids listening to modern covers of songs “not old enough to be covered yet” – except that they are, which is truly scary part, right?
Consider: A current college frosh was likely 10 or 11 in 2001, which means Mario Lemieux’s comeback that season probably didn’t seem like that big of a deal… because the frosh was only 6 or 7 when Lemieux first retired in, yep, 1997. (Worse, said college frosh may have no comprehension as to why Penguins broadcaster Phil Bourque is called “Ol’ 2-9er.” Sigh.)
– BY ROB ROSSI (9/29/09)
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