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September 16, 2014
by Josh Yohe


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Yohe: 10 Penguins observations entering camp

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Greetings, hockey fans. Thought you might like some tidbits as we enter training camp.

 

The Penguins have been working out informally for the past couple of weeks at Consol Energy Center and Southpointe, respectively. Attendance has been strikingly good, as almost every player on the roster has worked out during this stretch, perhaps a good indication of how hungry this team is and how much the players wish to please the new coaching staff.

 

In fact, the only locks to make the team who haven’t appeared yet are Kris Letang and Simon Despres. It’s September hockey, so it’s not to be taken too seriously … but, I’ve made some observations and figured I’d pass them along.

 

1. If you think the Penguins will feature anyone but Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis on Sidney Crosby’s line, you’re probably wrong. The players scrimmage at the end of every one of these workouts. And, wouldn’t you know it, Crosby, Dupuis and Kunitz are almost always together. They’re pretty inseparable. If Crosby has any say regarding his linemates — and it’s hard to imagine a new head coach is going to tell Crosby who his wingers are — it says here those two will flank Crosby to begin the season.

 

2. Dupuis looks great. Would it be wise to play him 20 minutes a night in October? Absolutely not, and I don’t believe the Penguins will do that. But, if you never knew that Dupuis blew his ACL in December, you’d swear he was 100 percent. He looks great skating and should be poised for a strong season.

 

3. If Crosby’s wrist is bothering him, he’s doing a fine job of hiding it. He is shooting the puck with authority. Also, and perhaps more importantly, Crosby is handling the puck beautifully. You’ll recall during the postseason that Crosby was having trouble receiving passes. At the time, no one knew his wrist was a problem. Everything looks fine.

 

4. While we are talking health, Beau Bennett told me recently that his wrists feel better than at any point during the past year. This is a huge year for Bennett, and he knows it. I expect him to begin the season on a line with Evgeni Malkin. Bennett looks fine handling and shooting the puck.

 

5. OK, one last health-related note is necessary. Olli Maatta looks spectacular. Does that mean he’ll be ready to start the season on Oct. 9? I wouldn’t bet on that. Shoulder surgery is a big deal, especially for defensemen, who routinely skate backwards to retrieve pucks before getting drilled into the boards, with their shoulders often exposed. However, coach Mike Johnston recently said that Maatta is progressing especially well from the injury. Good news, obviously.

 

6. Rob Scuderi is hungry for redemption. He knows many fans have written him off. He knows his performance last season wasn’t acceptable. Scuderi told me on Monday that his struggles coincided with the mental hurdle of dealing with the ankle injury he sustained early in the season. He also said that every disappointing season he has endured was the result of an injury that took place early in the season. One last thing: He wasn’t making excuses. Scuderi sounds like a man who was exceptionally unhappy with how he played last season and is hungry to prove himself.

 

7. Christian Ehrhoff wears a Batman T-shirt under his uniform. I felt like everyone needed to know this.

 

8. I believe Nick Spaling and Patric Hornqvist are going to be a very positive influence on the Penguins’ locker room. Hornqvist carries himself with a quiet confidence. Spaling is one of those people that you immediately like upon being introduced. Great personality, a lot like Brandon Sutter. You’ll like him.

 

9. Crosby bulked up this summer. Because of all the injuries he’s sustained in recent seasons, Crosby hasn’t always had time to work out in the summer. In the summer of 2011, he was still recovering from The Concussion. In the summer of 2012, I think Crosby was still getting himself completely healthy from The Concussion, plus the lockout was a distraction. In the summer of 2013, he had recently dealt with a broken jaw. Heck, he even had a wrist injury this summer, but is clearly recovered and clearly had time to work out during the summer. His upper body looks bigger.

 

10. Kasperi Kapanen is oozing with confidence. I’m not saying he’s arrogant or cocky. But he feels like he belongs. You can see he’s the son of a former NHL player. Kapanen looks so comfortable in the locker room, and so comfortable on the ice. It will be interesting to see if he’s given a real chance to make the team. I still think it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t be shocked by it.

 

Camp opens on Thursday, and the first practice is Friday. More observations will come soon.

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September 15, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Meet the Pens’ new speedster

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LONDON, Ontario — Matia Marcantuoni is fast.

Really fast.

Almost Brian Gibbons or Luis Mendoza fast.

Marcantuoni insists he never raced the former Penguins speedster, but it’d certainly be interesting to see who would win in a race.

As for the race to a prominent role with the big club, with Gibbons now in Columbus, it’s Marcantuoni who hopes to have a greater impact long term.

“Growing up I was more of a playmaker, a skill guy,” Marcantuoni said after scoring a goal off a rebound in the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout win Sunday at Budweiser Gardens. “But at the pro level, I feel like I’ll best fit in as a role player, penalty killer and speed guy.”

Has penalty killing always been part of his game?

“I think it’s something they expect from me,” Marcantuoni said. “(Killing penalties) is a big thing for me because I have speed, and I’m willing to block shots and get the puck down the ice. I definitely think it’s one of my biggest attributes.”

Marcantuoni was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round in 2012, 92nd overall.

The 6-foot, 200-pounder has played for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League for the past four years, tallying 42 goals and 98 points  in 184 games.

If he’s to stick with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or, eventually, the big club, Marcantuoni is going to have to do it with his speed, skating and abilities on the penalty kill — much like Gibbons.

“Not only is he quick, but he’s really strong on his skates,” Penguins prospects coach John Hynes said. “When he gets into puck battles, when the defensive players lean on him, he’s really strong on his skates.”

So penalty killing is sort of his calling card?

“Yep. For sure,” Hynes added. “Penalty kill and a high-end energy role, that he can use his skating, speed and strength. On special teams, (his role) would be penalty kill and faceoffs.”

>> The prospects are off today. A few guys are skating at 12:30 p.m. I’m heading to the rink and will have something off of that. The third and final game is at 2 p.m. Tuesday against the Maple Leafs.

>> Jaden Lindo is here. Remember, Lindo is the Penguins’ sixth-round pick (173rd overall) who’s missing this tournament — along with first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen (hand) — because he’s still recovering from a knee injury.

Lindo had 18 points and nine goals with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in 2013-14, and I asked Hynes about Lindo on Sunday.

“He’s injured. He’s just skating,” Hynes said. “He won’t be ready for main camp. He’s just working with our trainers and getting back. He’s a little ways away before he can get in full equipment and get on the ice with the team. He’s just skating on his own right now.”

>> The Penguins have four college guys here in forwards Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Bryan Rust (Notre Dame), Conor Sheary (UMass-Amherst) and Scott Wilson (UMass Lowell).

The group has made an impact — with Archibald scoring twice, Sheary adding an assist and Wilson and Sheary getting opportunities in Sunday’s shootout — and Hynes has been impressed.

“Sometimes you’re not sure what to expect because they’ve never been here,” Hynes said. “They’ve never been to main camp. They come to development camp, but then they don’t have a chance to be in this environment. You see they feel comfortable.

“You can for sure see what they bring. Is it as consistent we like? That can always get better. But, yeah, we’ve been real happy with how they’ve been able to play and produce. Most importantly, the comfort level they have. They’ve looked good so far.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 14, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Catching up with Stephen Johns

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LONDON, Ontario — The Chicago Blackhawks played here Saturday night and dropped a 4-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Budweiser Gardens. They face the Penguins at 2 p.m. today, then play the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m. Monday before a nine-hour bus ride home.

Why does this matter?

It’s keeping Wampum native Stephen Johns — a defenseman in the Blackhawks system — from watching his beloved Pirates.

“They’re heating up now, which is good,” Johns said. “Especially now that they’re good, it’s awesome. It’s exciting.”

Some might say the opportunity Johns is facing is more exciting.

He’s a 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenseman trying to make an impression at his first rookie tournament. The past four years, Johns played at Notre Dame, where he tallied 57 points and 15 goals in 164 games. He was taken by Chicago in the second round (60th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

“I’m a strong, physical and defensive player who can hop up in the offense and try to chip in as much as possible,” Johns said. “I’m trying to be a guy they rely on on the back end. I want to try and be a leader and help the team win any way possible.”

Johns, who played in the Pittsburgh Hornets system, made his professional debut with the Rockford IceHogs last season and recorded five points in eight regular season games.

The atmosphere here is much like the American Hockey League, Johns said, which should bode well for his chances.

“There’s a lot of familiarities with this and the AHL, kind of the caliber of play,” Johns, 22, said. “It’s fast. Guys are hitting because they’re trying to compete for spots. Everyone is playing as hard as they can. It’s tough, but it’s good.”

Johns visited home for a week at the beginning of August. “To be home for one last time before the grind starts,” he said. Pirates games were a must. Same with hunting, fishing and a few bonfires. He also spent time with his brother, Ray, and his kids.

Now, though, it’s time for Johns to move up the ranks of professional hockey.

“I miss home already, but this is my job now,” Johns said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

A few links from today’s print edition:
Mike Johnston might throw a few curveballs at us … make that post routes.

Columnist Joe Starkey wonders how long Johnston will remain relatively anonymous

Jean-Sebastien Dea stole the show yesterday in a 4-3 win over the Senators

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 14, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: ‘It’s fun to play right now’

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Offseason surgery limited Penguins forward Anton Zlobin at the beginning of last season, but the Moscow native has recovered nicely — his shoulder, sure, though more so his game.

Eight goals and 19 points in 46 regular-season games during 2013-14 was fine. That’s a season for some guys.

But Zlobin truly caught fire in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs, where he finished with six goals and four assists in 16 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

That strong finish carried over to the Penguins’ rookie tournament opener Saturday against Ottawa at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario, when Zlobin scored 80 seconds in by driving to the net and flipping a beautiful backhander past Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond.

“Last year was a tough year,” Zlobin said. “After surgery, I had a long time to rehab, around eight months. This year, I’m in very good shape. It’s fun to play right now.”

Sure looked like it during the Penguins’ 4-3 win.

Zlobin played on a line with center Jean-Sebastien Dea and winger Tom Kuhnhackl, and that group was easily the game’s best.

“We have some forwards who have some skill,” Penguins prospects coach John Hynes said. “When you put those guys together, they look pretty good.”

Especially Zlobin, who was drafted in the sixth round (173rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Hynes said Zlobin struggled in camp last year. He was overweight. His conditioned lacked.

Much of that changed, though, as Zlobin’s shoulder improved and he was able to play more. Now, Hynes said, “He’s a responsible player so you can play him in all types of situations, which is good for him.”

>>One thing I did not expect to see was a fight less than two minutes into a game, especially not one with as much apparent animosity as what transpired between Pittsburgh’s Patrick McGrath and Ottawa’s Darren Kramer.

Somebody was bloody. McGrath yelled at the Ottawa bench. This was by no means just for show.

Hynes talked before this thing about wanting guys to showcase what could get them to the NHL. McGrath, it seems, heard him loud and clear; in 45 games with Wheeling last season in the ECHL, McGrath racked up 176 penalty minutes. His 18 fighting majors led the team and ranked second in the league.

“That’s part of what this tournament is,” Hynes said. “When the game is over, people should be able to walk away and say, ‘(Jean-Sebastien) Dea and Anton Zlobin looked great offensively. You take a guy like Patrick McGrath or an Adam Payerl and you saw what they also brought to the table.’ It was a good performance that way from Patrick.”

>>Winger Josh Archibald flashed some of the skill and speed that made him a Hobey Baker finalist at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Archibald took a pass from Oskar Sundqvist along the left-wing boards. He thought back to a pregame scouting meeting, one that detailed Ottawa’s big defenseman who struggled to get their feet moving, and broke loose.

As he got closer to goaltender Chris Driedger, Archibald faked like he was going to go wide side but instead snapped a shot and beat Driedger short side, a beautiful goal.

“The goalie thought I was cutting across and started cheating,” said Archibald, who had 43 points and 29 goals last season at UNO. “I saw a little opening short side and was lucky enough to get it in there.”

My game story focuses on Dea making a strong impression.

A profile on Mike Johnston, who loves football, tapas and practicing to music

Columnist Joe Starkey spent some time with the Pens’ new coach, who’s anonymous … for now.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 12, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: McNeill seeing stars

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Reid McNeill has yet to make his NHL debut.

That hasn’t stopped him from having his name mentioned along with several prominent defenseman.

While playing with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12, McNeill’s regular defense partner was a 15-year-old named Aaron Ekblad.

Sound familiar?

That’s because Ekblad, now 18, was taken first overall by the Florida Panthers in June’s NHL Entry Draft.

“It was a great experience,” McNeill said of playing with Ekblad. “Right out of the gate, the kid was a star. I think he put up about 40 points (29 actually) as a 15-year-old in the best junior league in the world. I tried to help him out as much as I could with my experience in the league.”

McNeill, 22, said he remains close with Ekblad and wished him luck before the draft. Seemed to work out pretty well, no?

McNeill was traded to Barrie after playing with the London Knights from 2009-11. The package deal that sent McNeill to the Colts enabled London to draft current Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in the 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft; Maatta was taken first overall.

McNeill is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman who this season added a physical element to his game. After struggling early on with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, McNeill found a comfortable edge and wound up playing in 55 regular season games, finishing a plus-5 with five points and 119 penalty minutes.

“Early on, I didn’t feel like I had a role on the team,” McNeill said. “I sat out a lot at the start of the year. As the year went on, I developed more of a physical edge, something some other guys couldn’t bring. It was something the team needed.”

The mentor role is something McNeill has always enjoyed. He was defense partners with former Knights captain and current Penguins prospect Scott Harrington in London from 2009-11. This season he played quite a bit alongside Harrison Ruopp, who was recently bumped up from Wheeling.

“I was 20 when Aaron was 15,” McNeill explained. “Being such a young kid coming into the league, he did a lot of things that 15-year-olds would do. I just tried to help him out, but he was unbelievable.”

McNeill has kept tabs on Ekblad. He’s monitored his progress. And like many, McNeill said he’s expecting big things from the top overall pick.

“He’s a little more offensive than I remember, but his game is such a two-way game,” McNeill said. “He’s developed so much since he was a 15-year-old. I expect him to do great things.”

>>Associate general manager Jason Botterill, assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald, head coach Mike Johnston and assistant coach Rick Tocchet, among others, watched Friday’s workout at Budweiser Gardens. Johnston stood and watched the practice-ending shootout from glass. General manager Jim Rutherford and assistant GM Bill Guerin are expected to arrive tonight.

“It’s good to see them coming out here to see us,” forward Adam Payerl said. “It shows they care enough to get to know the young prospects in the system. You just want to play your best and try to make a good impression on them when they’re watching.”

Quotable:

WBS coach John Hynes on what he’s expecting to see over the next four days:
“It’s not necessarily pressure that they have to score goals or do something outside of what their skill set is, but they want to be able to impress with their work ethic, how they play. Like I said, we talk to the players a lot about, ‘There has to be something that separates you.’ Everyone comes here with a different skill set. Some guys are workers, some guys are skill guys. But they have to be able to show those things.”

Harrington on sensing an opportunity with injuries to Maatta and Derrick Pouliot:
“I think every year is equal opportunity. It’s unfortunate for some of those guys who’ve had some injuries over the summer. Maybe for guys who have been able to train all summer, it’s an opportunity for us to show what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m really just focusing on my game and myself, trying to play the best that I can and not get hung up on if guys are hurt or where they are in their situations.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 10, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Ehrhoff ready to contribute

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When defenseman Christian Ehrhoff learned that the Buffalo Sabres planned on buying him out of his contract, he listed for his agent a group of teams he wanted to play for — ones he identified as having a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

Only a few minutes into free agency on July 1, one of those teams landed Ehrhoff for a one-year deal worth $4 million, largely considered one of the better bargains of an otherwise upside-down day.

“I think the biggest thing that happened this summer — and we were very fortunate — was with Ehrhoff,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “We knew (Matt) Niskanen was going to deserve to get a big contract. It was going to be hard for us to fit him into our cap.

“The fact that Ehrhoff got bought out and was willing to come here on a one-year deal, at his salary, that, as I sit here today, makes me feel more comfortable than going into camp wondering where our younger defensemen are going to fit in.”

The Penguins have a ton of young, talented defenseman, but bringing in Ehrhoff should, at minimum, serve as a solid bridge until those guys are ready.

An all-around defenseman who finished first in power play time for the Sabres and second on the penalty kill, Ehrhoff led all Buffalo players with 27 assists. His 33 points were tops for any Sabres defenseman. Ehrhoff even blocked 119 shots, seconds on Buffalo.

“I’m an all-around defenseman,” said Ehrhoff, who averaged 23 minutes, 54 seconds last season. “I think I can play wherever they need me — power play or penalty kill. I can log high minutes. I’m excited to see where and how I fit in.”

Ehrhoff, 32, has been extremely durable, playing in 587 of 622 games over the past eight years. He set career-highs with 14 goals and 50 points while helping Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010-11.

In 692 career games, Ehrhoff has 69 goals and 244 assists and is a plus-51. He has 34 points in 73 postseason contests.

“After I got bought out, I sat down and told my agent some teams that I thought had a good shot at winning,” Ehrhoff said. “The Penguins were on the short list. They called, and everything happened really quick. I’m excited to be here.”

On Tuesday after an informal workout at Consol Energy Center, I asked Ehrhoff, who signed before former Penguins Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik went to Washington, whether he thought about playing with those guys or whether he expected them to be gone.

That wasn’t a huge factor either way, Ehrhoff insisted.

“I didn’t know how the team would end up, how the defense would end up,” Ehrhoff said. “It was kind of obvious that those guys weren’t going to stay, at least it seemed that way. That didn’t really play into my decision. I wanted to be on a good team. I think even with those guys leaving we have a good group of players here.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 9, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Crosby talks fake arrest, wrist, etc.

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Asking Penguins center Sidney Crosby about his fake arrest was not something I thought I’d ever do on the Penguins beat.

Yet here we were Monday morning, a half-dozen reporters approaching Crosby with that awkward, obvious question: So, um, Sid, last Wednesday was an interesting one for you, no?

I asked Sid how he learned that, while training in Vail, Colo., he somehow managed to steal a Porsche and get arrested in Ottawa — a talented man, this Crosby.

“I had texts from my friends that said, ‘I thought you were in Colorado. What’s going on?’ ” Crosby explained at his locker stall inside Consol Energy Center. “I read (senior director of communications) Jen (Bullano’s) text, and she said there was a false report out there, that it was something to be aware of.

“That’s really the extent of it. I didn’t ask too many questions, to be honest with you.

“It’s surprising that (a story) can be written in that way and I’m not even close to that place. It’s just one of those things … you don’t even bother with it. It’s kind of nonsense. You try to continue about your day, but I guess for five or 10 minutes, it’s something where I had to make a phone call. I didn’t worry about it after that.

“Like I said, it’s not the first time. It probably won’t be the last. There’s nothing you can really do about it.”

What Crosby could — and did — do was move past it. Nearly 20 Penguins players worked out at Consol Monday, a group that included recent acquisitions Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist and Thomas Greiss.

Couple them with players such as Olli Maatta and Pascal Dupuis — each rehabbing injuries and looking extremely strong — and Monday’s workout went a long way toward readying for training camp at the end of next week.

“With so many new faces coming, from the coaching staff into all the players, the past is the past, and we want to set goals and build something,” Crosby said. “We have a lot of new guys, so it’s going to take everyone getting comfortable right away. I think that’s more the focus.”

The Penguins will have a handful more of these informal workouts before the organization’s prospects head to London, Ontario for the annual rookie tournament.

Fellow beat man Josh Yohe has Tuesday’s story on Crosby insisting he’s 100 percent healthy from a wrist injury he suffered March 23 against St. Louis, his comments about that wacky story and the fact that he won’t pursue any legal action.

Strangely, Crosby said that wasn’t the most inaccurate thing ever written about him — though he declined, much to our collective dismay, to reveal what exactly ranked above it.

Here’s hoping that neither I nor Josh one day occupy one of those spots.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 5, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: A lot on Tocchet?

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Rick Tocchet is not a head coach.

That’s not to say, however, that the Penguins’ first-year assistant won’t shoulder one heck of a load this season.

Especially not after Thursday’s news of forward Daniel Carcillo signing a professional tryout contract.

If Carcillo makes the team, the Penguins’ third and fourth lines could feature Carcillo and Steve Downie, two of the NHL’s nastier players in recent years.

Charged with making sure those two play with an edge but still within the framework of the game is Tocchet, who himself played that style.

I asked general manager Jim Rutherford on Thursday whether having someone like Tocchet made it easier to bring in Carcillo, whose history as a player includes six suspensions over eight years.

“He’s played with a lot of different teams,” Rutherford said. “You wonder why that is. But at the same time, when I watch him with those teams, he’s a very useful player.”

And here’s most cryptic part: “I do believe that with the structure with our hockey staff, we’re very comfortable with any type of player.”

Carcillo acknowledged that he and Downie could form one annoying and physical pair — but admitted that he hasn’t gotten that far in his thinking.

It might be wise, Carcillo cautioned, to worry about making the team first.

“I know Steve’s there,” Carcillo said. “I know how he plays. I think we’d be great together, but I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I’ve just been trying to get myself in shape, mentally sharp and go in there with a good attitude and not look too far ahead. At the end of the day, it’s just a tryout.”

The Penguins have talked quite a bit about being tough to play against. It’s hard to believe this doesn’t accomplish that. Probably quite a bit more.

Whether it works will depend largely on Tocchet’s ability to keep these two on the right side of the law. And who better to charge with something like that than someone who 2,972 penalty minutes in 1,114 career games — but who also notched 440 goals and 952 points.

“He’s an NHL player at this point. Didn’t have a contract,” Rutherford said of Carcillo. “We still have opportunities for spots in our top 13. What he brings to our team is an element that, if he has a good camp and he fits in with the team, we could certainly use.”

It sounds as though the message is received on Carcillo’s end.

“I think it’s just going in there with a good attitude, jelling with the guys,” Carcillo said. “Some of them I know, some of them I don’t. Other than (Tocchet), I’m not too familiar with any of the coaches.

“I just need to go in there, have a good attitude, be a good veteran and push myself. I think that’s what they’re looking for.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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August 28, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Rookie tournament roster/schedule

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See yinz in London.

OK, OK, Ontario.

For the Penguins’ rookie tournament with the Senators, the Maple Leafs and the Blackhawks.

The team will play three games in four days Sept. 13-16, and Thursday morning the Penguins formally announced who will make the trip.

I was not on it, though I will be going.

Not many surprises Pens-wise. Defenseman Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin will take part. Same for goaltender Tristan Jarry and forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Josh Archibald.

The Penguins’ rookies open with a 2 p.m. game against Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Budweiser Gardens, home to the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

They play Chicago at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14 and Toronto at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John Hynes and assistant coach Alain Nasreddine will oversee the tournament, per the official release that’s viewable here.

It’s an interesting trip for Harrington, who was a junior player for the Knights and won back-to-back OHL championships in 2012 and ’13.

Harrington tied for second among WBS defensemen with 24 points this past season, his first as a professional.

Kapanen turned quite a few heads at developmental camp, prompting this reaction from assistant general manager Bill Guerin: “He’s even better than I thought he’d be.”

Dumoulin had 12 points in 17 games in the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs. Jarry helped the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championship. And Archibald was a 2014 Hobey Baker finalist at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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August 26, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Trottier back in coaching

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Got a chance to talk this morning with former Penguins center Bryan Trottier, who was hired a few weeks ago as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres.

Trottier is 58. His back and joints limit his golf to four or five charity events a year. Buffalo finished with 52 points a season ago, the fewest in the NHL.

So, why get back into coaching?

“When (head coach Ted Nolan) called this summer, I was kind of excited but also, at the same time, doing some introspection to make sure I wanted to be that involved again,”

Trottier said at the 17th Annual Penguins Alumni Charity Golf Classic at Valley Brook Country Club in McMurray. “He convinced me, and I think he was a good salesman on that.

“He convinced me that I still had something to bring, and the more I thought about it, I talked to my family and thought this might be a fun thing. I’m going to go in both feet for the year and have a great time with the young kids up there in Buffalo. See if we can’t build something fun.”

Trottier should have plenty to keep him busy. The Sabres brought in forwards Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta and Andrei Meszaros amid a flurry of offseason moves.
There’s also a young nucleus with center Tyler Ennis (career-high 21 goals in 2013-14) and defenseman Tyler Myers.

Trottier joins a staff that also includes Arturs Irbe, Danny Flynn and Tom Coolen.
This is the fourth coaching stop for Trottier, who played 18 seasons, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Class of 1997) and won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

There is, of course, a connection here. Trottier and Nolan were both hired by the New York Islanders in June 2006, Nolan as head coach and Trottier as player development director. The Islanders didn’t renew Trottier’s contract following the 2009-10 season.

Working with players — the same ones over and over, as Trots points out — in a more hands-on role is exciting for Trottier, who might challenge current Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the Nicest Man Ever award.

“You have 20 familiar faces every day,” said Trottier, who said he will report to Buffalo next week. “In player development, you’re working with the NHL team, the American Hockey League team, college kids, junior kids. You see something different over the course of a month and a season.

“When you’re working with 20 faces for the whole season, you’re really engaged and you can fine-tune with the players what you want to work on. You’re building their confidence, their skill levels and whatever else I can help them with.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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