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Comrie talks, leading to a “Say Anything” reference; also, Pens-Hawks to NBC.


Not to suggest the Penguins have hit a rough patch, but LW Matt Cooke and RWs Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis are now the club’s healthy leading goal scorers, each with 10 markers. The loss of LW Chris Kunitz before this game – a 4-1 loss to Columbus at home – left the Penguins without four forwards (Cs Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mark Letestu; and Kunitz) who have scored 75 of their 162 goals.

The latest on Crosby can be found here:

(Yes, if any dear readers are wondering, I’m growing tired of confirming denials of speculation about Crosby’s status. The bottom line: He isn’t symptom free yet, and that is all ANYBODY knows.)

Injured C Mike Comrie granted the media an interview after the game. He is recovering from hip surgery, and remains slightly optimistic of returning for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I asked Comrie if his unfortunate experience of dealing with long injury-related layoffs this season and in previous ones could be of use for players such as Malkin and Letestu, who are new to that aspect of the NHL game. His response:

“It’s one of the frustrating parts of being professional athletes – dealing with and it coping with it, watching your teammates and friends play. Sid and ‘Geno’ are such big parts of this organization that you’ve got to wait for guys like that to be healthy. It’s hard, but everybody is in this together and we’ve got some great guys in this dressing room to help each other out.”

Comrie has been a completely stand-up guy since his arrival for training camp, and looking back perhaps the so-called hockey gods were sending a karma-to-come message when he broke camp with the bum hip. Hard to believe that only five months ago there was hope he could be a 20-goal scorer on this team, one of four players anticipated to hit that mark.

I can say this: The Penguins would have loved to see Comrie play the left wing on a line with Jordan Staal at center and Malkin on the right wing. That was the plan, and it never left the drawing board in coach Dan Bylsma’s office because of injuries.

(Total aside: I chatted briefly with Comrie about his wife’s underrated movie “War, Inc.” I cannot recommend it enough – an oddly dark comedy that I caught on Showtime in December, and it was worth staying up until 3 a.m. to finish it. Then again, I’d watch anything with John Cusack. “You probably got it all figured out, Corey. If you start out depressed everything’s kind of a pleasant surprise.”)

Speaking of that “Say Anything” classic quote; this from new papa and Plum-native R.J. Umberger, on his Blue Jackets’ win:

“We didn’t show up on the ice, (and) from the drop of the puck they beat us to everything on the ice (a Penguins’ 7-1 win Dec. 4 at Columbus); there wasn’t one thing we did good, and they had the louder crowd and they were chanting against us in our own building. There were just a lot of things that happened that night that were embarrassing for us and it started with our play on the ice. I think they were trying to remind us tonight on the (video board).

“I was frustrated after that; that was embarrassing, especially for myself, people watching it back home and to see our team represented that way. Tonight, it was in the back of our minds.”

Umberger is one of the great underappreciated Pittsburgh-born athletes of all time. He is also a guy who will be mentioned a lot as rumored deadline-period acquisition by the Penguins, but I don’t buy it based off my conversations with people inside or out of the organization. Columbus scribes swear to me that the Blues Jackets would be loathe to trade Umberger, who is a huge dressing-room influence and a draw as a former Ohio State Buckeye star.

= Lastly, the Penguins game at Chicago on Feb. 20 has been selected for NBC’s “NHL Game of the Week.” That will leave the Penguins with just one remaining NBC game, as teams can play only four times on the league’s national broadcast network.




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.


  1. Shawn says:

    Any word on the Kovalev rumors?

    I can only think of two reasons why so many people (including Kevin Allen and Bob McKenzie) believe that Kovy back to Pittsburgh is inevitable.

    One, he’ll be cheap. We might be the only team that even wants him. It could be a 5th rounder that moves up to a 4th if he’s great or something like that.

    Two…almost all of the other players that will be dealt by the deadline will be dealt AT the deadline to get the best price. We could probably have Kovalev tomorrow if we want, given how much Ottawa wants rid of him.

    Those few weeks might be crucial in terms of picking up extra points and building chemistry.

    I still like the idea of adding Versteeg. If you can get Kovalev that cheap, you can still try to add Versteeg.

  2. dwf says:

    Please! Please! Let Yohe take this article over! Who cares about Mike Comrie granting the media an interview. As a fan, I don’t want to hear from someone who will probably never play another minute for the Pens. Nor do I want to read about movie recommendations, or favorite actors, or for that matter, favorite movie quotes from favorite actors!

  3. Shawn says:

    TSN is reporting that Cooke has a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Tyutin.

    This will be the RUINATION of the sport of hockey.

    As Bylsma said, Tyutin “looked him right in the eyes” and turned his back to gain a strategic advatage. If players are allowed to “profit” from putting themselves in harm’s way they will. If the NHL wants less danger, they will not reward those who put themselves in danger to be rewarded.

    I said the same thing about the Pominville hit. Pominville saw him coming and turned away. His injury is his fault, not Hjalmarsson’s.

    Players should not be able to wave the white flag or slip on the red no contact jersey anytime they want by putting themselves in harm’s way.

    The league should give anyone who puts themselves into harm’s way like that a diving call. And no call on the person they tried to draw a call against. That will end this nonsense.

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