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First ever Winter Classic morning skate

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

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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