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Kovalev speaks on return to Pens.


A quick update, but before reading from RW Alex Kovalev, some other roster news regarding the Penguins:

= They have recalled D Brian Strait from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. He will play tonight at Carolina. The Penguins arrived in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday night with only five healthy defensemen. D Paul Martin (right shoulder/neck) said he was optimistic of playing Saturday at Toronto, but he won’t play tonight. Martin was paired with D Kris Letang at practice Thursday. The other pairings were Zbynek Michalek and Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen-Ben Lovejoy.


= Now for some tidbits from Kovalev, who called me this morning — leading to this story:

* He expects to wear No. 72, a number he has only donned in the NHL during All-Star Games. He laughed at what it might take to pry No. 27 from RW Craig Adams. “We’ll have that talk this morning,” Kovalev said.

* He flew to Raleigh Thursday night on his private jet. He is an expert pilot. “The weather wasn’t great, so it took me a while.” he said.

*On why fans should believe he can impact this team: “An older guy has more experience. You learn things over time, learn how to do things better. I’m better now to help in all situations, not just scoring.”

* He sees his fit within coach Dan Bylsma’s system as a natural one. “We haven’t discussed my role too much, but I know they need some help scoring some goals,” he said. “We’ll try that and go from there.”

* By the way, Bylsma told me yesterday that he envisioned Kovalev on a line with C Jordan Staal and LW James Neal.


Now for some other notes…

= Thanks to all of you who pointed out that I had Neal referred to as Ryan Neal in this article:

Fix has been made. No excuses on my end. For some reason I’ve been stuck on “Ryan” Neal since the Penguins landed James. This may have a lot to do with the lack of sleep I’ve had during this deadline period.







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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