Labor Log: More games sacked, but more players return. Mixed signals?


Been a bit, dear readers – but, to be fair, it was quite a hectic week, this one past, with a few days in New York City, and too many hours trying to piece together what was going on with the NHL, NHLPA and those get-their-groove-on Penguins.

• Speaking of the local club, this piece on their involvement generated quite the collective response. So, uh, thanks. Was a real challenge getting all that information into one subject, and the trusted Trib editors deserve mad kudos for their patience. Anyway, if you missed it:

• The NHL has canceled more games, through Dec. 31 to be specific. This is no surprise, but Josh Yohe has the details here:

What a strange time this is in the hockey world. The NHL is canceling games, but the sides will pick up talks, and there are all kinds of signs that players think a deal may be near – or at least, there is a deal to do soon.

Look, Brooks Orpik can train a lot better in Boston, where there are no shortage of NHL players and top college programs, than he can in Pittsburgh (respectfully). Still, he picks this week to make his first appearances at the Penguins’ Southpointe workouts? Also, the group fairly doubles in size from last week?

Also, as Josh reported from practice Monday, the session was especially amped. Sidney Crosby fairly wrestled in the corner with Matt Niskanen. That was not happening a week ago.

It was, Josh suggested, almost as if players were turning it up a notch.

Anticipating something, lads?

• This blog author spent a couple of hours at Children’s Hospital, where several Penguins players visited with children and delivered gifts.

Even an ugly lockout could not ruin this great gesture, done annually by the Penguins and their players – though, this year was a bit different.

On the bright side, Crosby smiled a lot during the visits. That was a nice change of pace. He still looks completely worn by the events of last week, and his frustration with the process is genuine – though, it is fair to wonder with whom he is most frustrated?

Again, for whatever his critics might suggest in the future, nobody should view his efforts to get the NHL back on ice as anything but on-the-up and courageous. God help the first goalie he faces this season; Kid has a lot of venting to do when he next steps into a competitive situation.

• The outdoor rink was to be flooded Monday, but it turns out Father Winter is drenching it the old fashioned way. This weather development should not prevent the rink for opening on time.

What has two thumbs and cannot wait? (Think, “Scrubs” fans, think!)