Birthdays galore and Geno having some fun

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Some late Sunday thoughts:

• First, a happy 50th birthday to my uncle, Bill Oliverio. It was at his house that I watched in horror as the Penguins dropped Game 7 of the 1993 Patrick Division final to the Islanders. We were equally stunned. He tried to cheer me up. “Don’t worry, they’re going to win a lot more Cups,” he said. Sixteen years later I was on the ice as they took turns holding the next one.

• Speaking of happy birthdays: D BROOKS ORPIK (30) and LW CHRIS KUNITZ (31). One claims his age isn’t old. Another says he was wise even in his 20s. Care to guess who said what?

• C EVGNEI MALKIN has been making a point to speak more to the media this season. I hope he sticks with it, because there is a side of Malkin that more people need to see. One of my favorite new Malkinisimsis the way he looks downward and cracks a left-corner smile when saying something that amuses himself. He did it today during a response to my question about Columbus RW RICK Nash’s assertion that Malkin was slashing all throughout an exhibition game Saturday night. Malkin joked that the game, so far as he knew, had two referees and that he wasn’t called once for slashing.

Some of Malkin’s teammates have confided to me they think he will be a star of the HBO series “24/7″ about the Penguins and Capitals. I can’t say I disagree.

• Speaking of that HBO seires, the coordinating producer on the Penguins end is a local lady: Bentley Weiner of Squirrel Hill. She claims to read this blog. This is a test.

• First practice of camp at Southpointe was on a SteelersSunday and still the stands were full. Mostly with kids and parents. I’m just saying….

• Some help from dear readers. If you could ask just one question to The Big Four (Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury), what would it be? I’m looking for suggestions. Email hockeyday@tribweb.com. And keep it clean, obviously.

— ROSSI

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