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Geno speaks (from far away), and a Jagr thought.


Happy Tuesday, dear readers; for the Americans among the audience, I hope your Independence Day was colorful with the suitable intake of greasy burgers. U-S-A!!!

Bad jokes aside, somebody passed along this English-translation (I believe) of an interview Evgeni Malkin conducted with a Russian news organization. Pretty sure I’ve read bits and pieces from this before – likely during the madness of the two-month You-Know-Who Watch, but there were some interesting points from Malkin, so enjoy:

As for other news:

= Some Czech Republic readers have sent emails, many expressing confusion as to why the Penguins as an organization feel disappointed in Jaromir Jagr’s decision to join the Flyers. To be clear, I don’t sense frustration from the organization – in fact, I don’t sense anything emotional from GM Ray Shero – but I do feel the sentiment of confusion as to why Jagr would, on handfuls of occasions, speak in such high regarding of wanting to make amends with his original NHL team and do right by Mario Lemieux, only to not contact anybody from the Penguins after Shero made him an offer last Tuesday.

As for Jagr’s legacy and the Penguins’ now holding a grudge… look, I genuinely believe his No. 68 is highly unlikely to be retired in Pittsburgh; but I believe that because, simply, I cannot envision how such a scenario would present itself. Number retirements require fans to buy in. More than buy in, fans must on some level crave a player’s number to be retired. If somebody can make an argument for Penguins fans craving that Jagr’s number be retired after this latest course of action, well, I’m all ears. I just don’t see it.

Finally, I don’t know Jagr. The people I know who do know him insist he is a well-intentioned guy, just one who prizes money above most if not all else. I don’t think that makes him a bad person. However, I do think he blew it last week – not by declining the Penguins offer, but by allowing three well-respected organization to go days without hearing from him after he spoke of wanting to play for those organizations, and then, by all accounts, never getting in touch with those organizations after offers to him were made. That was just bizarre behavior. Also, his explanation left a lot to be desired in terms of what to believe.

Last point on this, at least I hope the last point: Months ago, when the Penguins first invited Jagr back for a summer golf alumni gathering, I was told that the thing to keep in mind about Jagr is that his words and actions rarely mesh. That much was proven true last week, and this was a lesson to be learned when/if future reports on Jagr are necessary.

= Lost in the shuffle of the Jagr madness was word from coach Dan Bylsma that he is open to trying James Neal as the right wing on a line with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby. Bylsma likes the way the styles of both Kunitz and Neal play to Crosby’s preferences for winger play. Hmmm…

Bylsma also referred to Malkin playing on the wing, again. A lot of people aren’t in favor of this, but I am of the opinion that any coach deserves the right to have one of his experiments fail before we criticize. The weird injury circumstances of Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal last season never allowed Bylsma to deploy a regular line with Staal centering Malkin as the right wing. So, maybe we should all agree to see if it can work before ripping it – though, personally, I’m somewhat more intrigued of Malkin centering Staal as the left wing; but, I’m not an NHL coach, with good reason.

(Heck, I’m two weeks removed from knee surgery and still looking for clearance to drive, so I’m not a lot these days.)

= I’m beginning work on a project for the Trib that will take up most of my remaining summer days. Josh Yohe – on Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib – will be handling team-related news. Quite capably, too.

I may chime in on the blog here and there, but for the most part my attention will be elsewhere. And I’m sure many Penguins fans need a breather, anyway. #BuccoWatch, anyone?







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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