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First ever Winter Classic morning skate

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Happy 2011, dear readers. A quick update from Consol Energy Center, site of a surprise morning skate because the Winter Classic game has been moved to 8 p.m. tonight.

= Center JORDAN STAAL, who is a game-time decision, was not a part of the line rushes — likely an indication he won’t go tonight against the Washington Capitals. Staal’s status was upgraded Friday, and that he is even an option for the Classic game remains a surprise given he had only started practicing with teammates last Sunday.

= NHL officials who hadn’t seen Consol were given a tour of the facility before practice. Somebody (ahem) might have ribbed several of them about Team Canada’s loss Friday at the World Junior Championship.

= It appears as though family members of the Washington Capitals are planning to watch the practice from the stands. Kind of a strange sight to see any red being worn at Consol.

= By the way, one of my favorite moments from Friday was Capitals left wing ALEX OVECHKINtrying to get the attention of a merchandise vendor while he and teammates shopped for gear before the team’s practice. Ovechkin was the first Capital at the merchandise table, and he kept waiving his right hand to get her attention. It didn’t work. He was told he had to wait his turn. Just a funny, playful, behind-the-scene moment.

–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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