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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Too many alternate chiefs?

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Friday column comes on the day the Penguins will report for training-camp physicals, with actual skating starting tomorrow morning.

The concept I pose is whether or not the team would be better off with a single, temporary leader for however long Sidney Crosby is out. You’ll find out who my choice is, as well.

>> Loved what Dick LeBeau had to say about the Steelers’ defense yesterday. Sometimes, especially in a physical game like football, it all really comes down to the want-to. There was no question last week the Ravens wanted that game more.

That said, I still wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of Ziggy Hood or even Cam Heyward on the defensive ends if Brett Keisel and/or Aaron Smith should struggle again in the early going against Seattle. As Mike Tomlin pointed out, nothing else that the Steelers hope to achieve on defense matters if they give up 5 yards per rushing attempt.

>> Am I the only one who directly associates the kind of weather we’ve gotten the past 24 hours with high school football?

There’s just something about the first time you put on long sleeves or even a jacket that makes you feel like you’re climbing up the bleachers somewhere, with the smell of a bake sale and a marching band playing in the background.

>> I’m idly curious: If Tino Sunseri somehow, magically channeled his inner Tom Brady and completed 39 of 40 passes for 500 yards this weekend against Iowa, would that be enough to get anyone to believe in him?

I’m boldly guessing neither will happen, and Pitt’s Todd Graham will have to make a hard call in going with walk-on Trey Anderson.

>> Here is the transcript of our multifaceted chat yesterday. Thanks again to all.


  1. Skip says:

    DK – Maybe this is a matter of semantics, but I don’t think a leader can be “designated” by the Penguins’ coaches or management. A leader either will, or will not EMERGE. Simple as that.

    DK: It’s always the head coach’s final say in hockey, Skip. This isn’t like football where the players pick the captains. But you’re right that the leader has to be a popular choice.

  2. JAL says:

    JAL’s California Dreamin’ Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

  3. JAL says:


    11 LA Times

    Ohlendorf goes deep as Pirates down Dodgers,0,2498456.story

    Dodgers’ elimination from NL West race is merely a formality,0,3299644.story

    12 Metro West Daily News

    Framingham to honor native baseball great (Pie Traynor)

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Your Morning Phil: Pirates, Halladay, Axelrod,0,1856156.story

    14 LA Daily News

    OVER AND OUT: Eveland loses his first as Dodgers mathematically eliminated from NL West race

    15 San Jose Mercury News

    Pirates upbeat as losing season streak hits 19

  4. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Behind the Steel Curtain Radio: ‘Terrible Towel Talk’, Episode 1

    Steelers Vs. Seahawks: Pittsburgh Should Level Record at 1-1 Provided They Do Two Simple Things

    -Steeler Depot

    Report: Tomlin Pressed Rooney To Sign Polamalu

    -Steelers Gab

    Seattle at Pittsburgh Thursday Injury Report

  5. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Finding Optimism for Pitt-Iowa

    Cardiac Hill

    College Football Expansion: What Would Four Superconferences Look Like With 64 Teams?

    WVU Blogs

    Gold and Blue Blog

    Maryland Rivalry Extends Beyond Field of Play

    WV Illustrated

    PREVIEW: The Dana Holgorsen Show Episode 6

  6. TJA says:

    Regarding your high school football comment DK: Amen! I’ll be going to one of those games this evening and really, there is nothing better on a Friday night in Western PA! High School Football around here over the years: Montana…Dorsett…Marino…Namath…Arrington…and so many more. It’s a beautiful thing…

  7. Thundercrack says:

    Hi DK,
    During yesterday’s chat you included this in an answer regarding “the outright lack of hitters in the system” (which certainly seems to be the case)

    “You know, no one praises the Pirates’ drafting more than the Pirates do, but the fact is that four of the top five hitters for average in their system this year were international free agents signed by Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo and his staff”

    I am not sure how that matters? It is a fact but Gayo is a scout for the Pirates. So doesn’t the credit go towards him and the Pirate Scouting Department? A Pirate scout signs players that are in the Pirates’ system. Why does it matter that he should get singled out? Are you trying to make the point that the Pirates have no top hitters in their system that are from the U.S.?

    DK: The people who do the drafting and those in international operations have absolutely nothing to do with each other. When the Pirates talk about the draft, they’re talking about the draft. (U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico)

  8. Dejan,
    Excellent column today on Pens and Staal’s emergence as more than just a player.
    If the Pen’s make the ‘A’ more than honorary (Geno, Martin, Cooke, Kunitz), as so often is the case, then Staal and Orpik appear heads and shoulders above the rest.

    Good taste-testing column for us on the Pens!

    DK: Taste-testing? Wha?

  9. Fat Jimmy says:

    I was driving back from Atlanta yesterday and catching up on three weeks worth of Bill Simmons/BS Report podcasts. He had Mike Lombardi from NFL Network on a few times. It was neat listening to podcasts taped BEFORE Week 1 making commentary on what MIGHT HAPPEN in Week 1. (to see how often they were right) I was surprised how accurate some of the predictions were. I also noted this:

    Lombardi made the point that teams that play well in the preseason often come out flat in Week 1.

    I took some solace in that comment.

  10. tmp444 says:

    DK — I absolutely had the same exact thoughts about the weather when I walked my dog this morning. You could almost smell it in the air……

  11. CWalton_67 says:

    I don’t disagree with your thoughts on Staal, and he’ll only get better both as a player and leader over time. But, based on performance and seniority, I think I’d pick Orpik as the primary “A” in Sid’s absence. Of course, I don’t know either guy, just what I read and hear. Believe that Orpik, Staal and Geno will all wear an “A”, and rightly so, at least until injuries intervene.

  12. Quote from DK’s column today:

    “There will be no more powerful moment in Pittsburgh sports this year — not the Pirates poking into first place, not even the Steelers reaching the Super Bowl — than when Crosby comes back.”

    I’ve been intrigued by this ending statement for the last three hours, so it did its job. I return to comment.

    I do not agree.
    1/ The Pirates achieving 1st Place, still being there after 100 games, was the bigger moment. After two decades of floundering and losing 105 games just last season, nothing could be more unexpected, more emotion-filled, more slap-you-upside-the head, more truly amazing than the Pirates in 1st place. [Even with the Freak Show, concurrent discussion was whether ANY team in Central Division (called Comedy Central) would finish above .500] Pirates in 1st Place after All Star break was REAL and ACHIEVED in spectacularly unexpected fashion. Still must pinch myself!

    2/ I would also normally say that Steelers trip to Super Bowl would also outrank Sid’s return, as that is the ultimate prize to a long season and playoff . . . . yet fans seemed to treat this most recent Super Bowl as expected or ‘rite of passage’, with not nearly the joy/anticipation as recent Super Bowl trips. Interesting, isn’t it, that the last two official football games that the Steelers have played, the opposing team has brought more emotion, more intensity, more lay-it-on-the-line attitude to the game than the Steelers. Steelers lost both.

    3/ Sid’s return is personal to us, as he is the face of Penguins and approaching prime of his career and his life, and we do not want his life “as we know it” to be diminished———but there are very few who doubt he will eventually return. The longevity of his recuperation is an inconvenience (to fans), as an extended Tommy John would be, but still VERY few doubt his eventual return. His forced absence will soon be diminished/forgotten after he begins playing again.

    Mario’s return from the Big ‘C’ was a much bigger moment——and will never be forgotten——than Sid’s return from the Little ‘C’.

    Nineteen years of frustration versus 8 1/2 months . . . . not comparable! But thought-provoking!

    DK: Fair points all, Groat. I’m guessing this subject will almost always go to a personal leaning.

  13. JAY says:

    I sometimes wonder about Bylsma’s selection of the “A”. Granted, we are not in the locker room nor do we deal with these players on a daily basis, but as a fan, the selection of Matt Cook, and even Paul Martin who was in his first season seemed a bit odd. I thought perhaps Kris Letang may have been designated as a “A” in the absense of Malkin or Orpik. He has shown leadership in the past as Captain of the World Junior Gold Medal team and by all accounts is a very hard worker. Do you have any theories as to why he has not been chosen?

  14. TK says:

    Wasn’t there some sort of rotation of who gets the “A” on their sweater. Or was it Therrien who did that?

    DK: That was Therrien.

  15. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’ve been thinking about this all morning. I think Hester Prynne should get an “A”.

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