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The Mighty, Mighty Bylsmas

That is the tag I’ve used to introduce the Penguins in a weekly notes-share submission to fellow beat scribes. That tag won’t find its way into my submission Thursday, because these Penguins lack might.

I’d try to play off that word — “might” — and say they might not be long before the playoffs; but “might” implies that a feeling of doubt, and I do not doubt this group will bow early in the postseason.

Something is off, and D BROOKS ORPIK nailed it after this 2-0 loss to the otherwise depressing Tampa Bay Lightning when he suggested the Penguins have “accountability” issues.

Orpik has offered a lot of damning words over the last few months:

Jan. 2 after a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay: “It’s kind of like we’re just showing up and assuming… right now we think we’re good enough to show up and beat whoever we play, and we’re not. I don’t know how good we are to be honest. Early in the season I think we got lucky with a lot of games, a lot of different aspects of it. Maybe it’s catching up to us now.”

March 22 after a 3-1 loss at Detroit: “It seems like some guys are in it one night, and other guys aren’t. And the next night, maybe the handful that was isn’t. Role reversal; there’s really no excuse for it.”

March 24 after a 4-3 shootout loss at Washington: “Maybe I’m in the minority here, (but) I’m getting tired of hearing we worked hard or maybe deserved better. We’re not winning hockey games and that’s what it comes down to. I don’t feel very good leaving the rink when you lose. … I’m getting very concerned. Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs. We’ve got eight games to go here and we’re not playing too well. They way we’re playing now we’ll be out in the first round.”

I’ve written many times that Orpik is the club’s conscience. He is also one of few players that I rate as having consistently played up to or beyond expectations this season. The others: C SIDNEY CROSBY, C JORDAN STAAL, RW PASCAL DUPUIS, LW MATT COOKE, D MARK EATON.

Six is not a good number when it comes to noting players that have night-in and night-out matched or beat expectations. However, six might be the number of playoff games these Penguins have in them unless something changes soon.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated:



The Penguins took the day-to-day media on a tour of Consol Energy Center before this loss, and the scenes were mind-blowing to a reporter who is loathe to gush about anything (save, perhaps, his beloved WVU men’s hoops squad).  My favorite features:

Upper-concourse brew pub. Fans with the highest seats get a great perk with this upper-concourse treat. The sight lines from the last row of seats were perfect for watching hockey, but I can already envision quite a few paying customers standing behind that row and tossing down frosty beverages from the brew pub while peeking at the game in-between conversations about whatever. I predict the upper-concourse brew-pub area will surpass the rotundas at PNC Park and Heinz Field as the best place to hang out while watching a Pittsburgh team.

Hockey’s most spacious players’ facilities: I’ve been to every dressing room/training room/players’ lounge/etc. in the NHL. Nothing — and the “Rocky” means nothing — compares to what the Penguins will provide their players. The oval-shaped dressing room is massive, and it leads into a player’s loungue that will be able to fit pool tables, massive hi-def TVs and enough room for EQUIPMENT MANAGER DANA HEINZE to hang a billboard if he so wishes. The Penguins also have provided Heine with rooms to work on skates and sticks — yeah, one room each — and TRAINER CHRIS STEWART a water-training room for rehab and muscle relaxation. A massive workout room includes a short track for players to run their pre-game sprints. All of these perks came at the request of CO-OWNER RON BURKLE, who argued that in a cap-system the best way to entice players to stay (or join) Pittsburgh’s NHL club was to build a winner — and not just on the ice. The Penguins have built a winning players’ area, and I’m curious to see how it pays off in landing free agents down the road.

Oh beautiful, for spacious press box. OK, so 99.9 percent of people entering Consol won’t care about the press box, but I do and this is my blog, so deal with this next bit. Upon seeing the space where I’ll work — and I do mean space, as there is enough room from the computer benches to the walls for a two-lane race of wheeled chairs — the only words that came to me were from the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”: “Daylight whipped me into shape/I must have been asleep for days.” Look, the media is an oft-agitated bunch that lives to gripe about anything. That is actually my favorite part of the job. Still, anybody among my media colleagues that finds fault with this press box is simply looking for something about which to complain. Plus, we have a media elevator. A MEDIA ELEVATOR! I’m still weeping at that one.


I’m no star, but check out this video anyway:

And, as always, thanks for reading.

— Rossi (4/1/10)




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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