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An AM update before the first game at Consol.

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Greetings, dear readers. Some notes as I watch a bizarre drill around noon:

= C JORDAN STAALwas again re-evaluated by team doctors today and will not speak until Thursday. The original play was for Staal to make his first public comments since his second surgery for a right-foot infection today, but I’m told there were more things to discuss regarding his current state. That should not be taken to mean he has experienced any setbacks.

Coach DAN BYLSMA had this to say regarding Staal’s situation:

“We’re continuing the process of healing — of the (stitches) and wound is day-by-day. It certianly looks better than it did two days ago, but it’s still going to be a process.”

I asked Bylsma if the plan was to proceed with Staal more cautiously because of the second infection surgery:

“There is no urgency to hope this heals one day faster. We’ll let it take its course and when its fully healed and (Staal) is fully comfortable we’ll move onto the next stage.”

An update from the last time I saw Staal: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_700496.html

 

MARIO LEMIEUXand NHL agent Pat Brisson conversed while taking in practice from section 101 at Consol Energy Center. Pretty big night for Lemieux, seeing the first game in this building.

By the way, a lot of people have asked me about the statue of Lemieux that I’m told will be unveiled Dec. 27 — the 10-year anniversary of his historic comeback from retirement. I’m told the pose used for that statue is one from the 1990-91 season, but that it is not the one from him splitting the defense in Game 2 of the Cup Final that year — arguably the most famous of Lemieux’s many highlight goals.

I should probably note that I’ve heard so much conjecture about this pose that there is a good chance nobody has seen it but Lemieux and a few select team officials. The only thing I know about this stature for sure is that it is a gift from Penguins ownership to Lemieux — and that was about the only way he was going to sign off on it. (My guess is he doesn’t need a statue to know how big an impact he made on the organization; but it will be a nice treat for his fans and family.)

 

= Bylsma said last week that it would be right to look at players who serve as alternate captains during exhibition games as contenders to wear the “A” vacated by D SERGEI GONCHARwhen he signed with Ottawa. D BROOKS ORPIK will wear that “A” tonight against Detroit. Though he won’t play in an exhibition game, Staal is high on the short list of contenders to replace Gonchar as an alternate. Team officials raved abou this increased leadership role as last season wore on, and I’ve heard he is one of the more vocal young players among the nucleus.

 

= Look for the following tonight:

C SIDNEY CROSBY playing with RW PASCAL DUPUIS and LW BRETT STERLING. Sterling has been one of camp’s big stars, and Crosby and Dupuis figure to open the season on a line.

C MIKE COMRIE between LW ERIC TANGRADI and RW EVGENI MALKIN. Comrie is looking more and more like a guy the Penguins view as a top-six player. Tangradi, the club’s top prospect, gets a chance to show if his strong prospect-camp performances can carry over into a prime audition opportunity with Malkin.

Orpik will be paired with D ZBYNEK MICHALEK. I blogged on this topic the other day. I’d consider this pairing the answer to questions about a shutdown pairing in the absenses of Ds ROB SCUDERI and HAL GILL, only Orpik and Zbynek can each move the puck much better.

 

= The team did some power-play work in the morning practice, with Malkin moving around a lot between left and right point, and Ds KRIS LETANG and ALEX GOLIGOSKIeach working into a five-man rotation. Bylsma suggested not much should read into formation or personnel at this point in camp, and I’m going to stick with his word considering he’s running the power play this season. I’ll say this much based off my chats with him the past few months — the word to keep in mind is MOVEMENT. Bylsma wants a lot of it.

 

– 

= G MARC-ANDRE FLEURYwas not thrilled with the way his 2009 Cup win looked on his mask last season. A look at the new mask’s back complete with the Cup and Frog updates:

 

FLEURY MASK

 

I joked with Fleury that he should go with a blank mask and have the big-name acts that come to CEC sign it, like a cast. The signature he’d most want: Kermit the Frog, assuming a Muppets on Ice show is in the works. (Get on it, JayRoberts!)

 

–Rossi

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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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