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Wakeup Call: Penguins could be class of East

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> The Penguins begin their 47th season with a 10 p.m. game in war-torn Vancouver, and my outlook for the team is just about as rosy as most others.

If Sidney Crosby is healthy — the phrase that will precede almost any view this year — there will an elite skill level combined with a seven-deep D, superb penalty-killing and one of the league’s best in goal. The only lingering issue along with Crosby’s health is the power play, but I think people are really going to like what Steve Sullivan brings to the left side, at times the left point. The skating is still very much there.

The Capitals, Lightning, Bruins and Sabres will provide serious competition, but the Penguins could be the class of the East. I really like, in particular, Washington landing Tomas Vokoun. They could still use an impact blueliner to go with Mike Green, but Vokoun is a big addition.

Here is fellow columnist Joe Starkey’s look ahead to the season.

>> Brooks Orpik is leaving open the door to playing tonight. The Penguins need to remind him that he’s missed the past two playoffs to injury. I’ll take Orpik in those months over this one, thanks.

I spoke with Orpik shortly before the charter left Pittsburgh, and his update on his health was that he feeling sometimes good, sometimes bad. That’s not good enough.

>>The Steelers’ locker room was mostly missing two key elements yesterday on the South Side:

1. Fun.

2. People who play defense.

The paper-basketball court, the shuffleboard table and everything else that had been serving as entertainment was in total non-use by the athletes yesterday morning when I was there and, according to our Mark Kaboly, during the second media availability later, too. The place was drop-dead serious, actually.

As for the defense, not sure what to read into that. I didn’t see half the linebackers, hardly anyone on the line, most of the secondary … during a half-hour availability in which almost all of the offense was through. Including Ben Roethlisberger. Some avoid the media as a matter of course, but this was exceptional.

Maybe they were being serious somewhere else. Couldn’t hurt.

>> One of these dates, we will lift the apparent federal decree that Phoenix must have pro sports teams.

What an awful sight last night, those 10,000 empty seats for the Diamondbacks’ victory. Almost as embarrassing as the NHL owning the Coyotes another year in a transparently desperate move to make hockey work in a market that just couldn’t care less about sports.

>> Is there really no one bothered by the Brewers being in danger?

That’s your model out there, Pirates fans.

>> We will have our weekly chat at noon, the usual time, usual place. You know by now that you can begin posting entries as early as 6 a.m.


  1. Hamburger Jones says:

    Did it ever occur to anyone that the only reason there are teams in Phoenix is to round out a west coast division without having 5 or 6 teams in California? Think about it: where else are you going to put a franchise? Portland? Another team in the Bay area? How about a third L.A. team? The reason they keep forcing teams into the Phoenix area is purely geographical, nothing more nothing less. What they should do is try an NHL team in Seattle. They deserve it after losing the Sonics.

  2. Officer Mancuso says:

    Phoenix the 14’th largest metro area in the USA

  3. JClare says:


    I don’t care if the Brewers are the Pirates model. I want the Brewers to lose every game they play, ever, all the time, not matter what. K?


  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s World Where You Live Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

  5. JAL says:


    6 Milwaukee Journal

    NLDS Game 4: Diamondbacks force series back to Milwaukee

    Brewers unable to solve Collmenter once again

    7 Arizona Republic

    Arizona Diamondbacks’ win is twice as grand for fans

    8 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Cardinals go all-in to set up battle of aces

    9 Minor League Ball

    Top 50 Pitching Prospects for 2011: How They Performed

  6. JAL says:


    13 SB Nation

    Pedro Alvarez: Should The Pirates Consider Trading Their Former Top Prospect?

    14 Pittsburgh Business Journal

    Pirates see huge uptick in TV ratings

  7. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    Where are they now? Tracking the Steelers’ Draft Picks in the Mike Tomlin Era, Part 3: 2009

    It’s Time For the Defending AFC Champion Steelers to Stand Tall and Proud

    -Steeler Depot

    Starks to Start First Week Back

    -Steelers Gab

    Titans at Steelers Week Five Capsule

  8. Thundercrack says:

    I have heard and read your views many times about how Milwaukee is the model for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I get it. But I also think it is the model for a lot of clubs.

    But one of the most important factors is ownership. One owner seems to be more wealthy than the other. And one has decided to spend more of his own money on his team than the other.

  9. Turner Ward says:

    Am I the only one that is sick of hearing the Brewers named as the model for the Pirates? In the past 19 seasons, they have exactly 2 more winning seasons than the Pirates. That’s not exactly what I’m aspiring to as a Pirates fan. Yes, they have a big payroll while throwing all their chips in, but according to their owner, they are running at a pretty big loss financially this year…an unsustainable model.

    After Fielder and those pitchers don’t sign long-term extensions, they will have Ryan Braun and a suddenly not-so-interesting Nyjer Morgan.

  10. Turner Ward says:

    Watching the Brewers lose is no different for me than watching the Twins and the A’s not winning playoff series each year. It’s nice to put together some low-payroll contenders, but until the system changes, there is no way for these teams to compete annually.

  11. J.D. says:

    The D’backs payroll is smaller than the Brewers. This should be a positive sign for Pirates fans.

  12. TJA says:

    I’m a NL fan, but I do not like the Brewers and enough said about Tony La Russa and the Cards. The Phillies were annoited the Champs way back in January when they put that pitching staff together. I personally like the Rangers and D-Backs in this post season tournament. They are a classy organization in all respects. No reason the Pirates can’t copy a little from what the Rangers have done. Hmmm…one Clint Hurdle arrived in Pittsburgh from Arlington, Texas.

  13. Jandy says:

    Even if Sid isn’t back for a couple months, I’m expecting Geno to do some really good stuff on the ice this season. He can keep us in the standings until Sid is ready to roll.

  14. Arriba Wilver says:

    Maybe not so much here, but I have to wonder how many of the people who don’t like the Brewers’ model also buy in with both feet to the Pirates’ presumed model that you have a continuous flow of talent coming from the minors to fill in for the elite talent they can no longer afford. I mean, isn’t that what we’ve been hearing for 4 years is the “plan” for becoming a championship organization that can be competitive year in and year out?

  15. radio wave says:

    Most of the predictions I’ve read so far pick the Pens in the East. The exception was the Boston Globe, who had teams like the Caps, Flyers, and Bruins ahead of the Pens.
    And what about the West?
    I’ve seen predictions for the Blackhawks, Sharks, but not Vancouver. What has changed in BC since the finals?

    DK: Maybe they’re afraid of what happens if the Canucks lose again.

  16. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh!

    Will be recording the game ( on Versus ) to watch after I get home from work in the morning.

    It would be great to see a fast start out of the gate to set the city mood right once again… and let the injury baton get passed off to… oh, say…the Washington Capitals…

  17. TheSaltyRogue says:

    I have no problem with the Brewers model (Hey, they’re the ones that want to lose money), I have many reasons why I don’t like the Brewers.

    I wish them nothing but the worst and a playoff exit ASAP.

  18. Milo Hamilton says:

    Bothered by the Brewers being in danger ? More like ecstatic that the Brewers are in danger.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Cards & Brewers met in the National League “Central” Championship Series after the division took such a beating when they couldn’t get a team to .500 ?

  19. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m rooting for the Brewers. You can revoke my Pittsburgh citizenship tag if you want. I’m rooting for the Brewers. Them boys can play and they are in our division. And they won 96 freaking games!

  20. Bizrow says:

    The Brewers are kinda like the PBCs rival, except the Brewers consistently kick the snot out of us.

    Reminds me of how I felt about the Mutts in the late 80’s.

    Can budmeister call the series off so no one wins?

  21. tmp444 says:

    Someone wrote yesterday that they hope the Brewers, Rays, etc. all lose and that the big money teams get into the WS year after year after year, so that maybe, finally, then MLB will change the revenue structure. Being the cynical SOB that I am, I can’t say that I disagree with that philosophy.

    But, being the cynical SOB that I am, don’t think that MLB doesnt love seeing NYY and some big market NL team like Philly in the WS every year. Ratings ratings ratings. $$$$$$$. To the MLB brass, a Tigers/Brewers WS is a disaster.

  22. tmp444 says:

    Bizrow, agree completely. PBC/Brewers = Steelers/Browns

  23. CWalton_67 says:

    DK, no mention of Flyers as a contender? I think they are going to implode at some point this season, primarily because Jagr will pout at the first tough stretch, Bryzgalov will not meet expectations, and because Pronger is, well, Pronger. Would be interested as to your reasons why you don’t think they contend.

    DK: They subtracted more than they added this offseason.

  24. Turner Ward says:

    tmp444 – That was me that said that. My point is that the public backlash would be great and perhaps the owners would band together. You’re absolutely right about ratings and money, but only a public uprising or a banding together of owners would change the status quo.

  25. Brian says:

    The model for the Pirates isn’t necessarily another franchise, the model for the Pirates is to draft and develop well, develop LA talent well, make good trades, and sign free agents that produce.

  26. RalphM says:

    Looks like TCU has decided the Big East isn’t for them either…

  27. MrB says:

    I’m currently one week into a three week stay in Madison, Wisconsin. Between the Badgers, Packers and Brewers, the state populace is feeling very good about their sports teams…and rightfully so.

    My stance has softened on Milwaukee. Why I hate the fact that they consistently beat our brains out, the city reminds me a lot of Pittsburgh. I naturally root for underdogs (if I don’t have a vested interest), so I still am rooting for Arizona. If Milwaukee prevails, I’ll give them my support in the NL.

    Now that the Rays are gone I’m pulling for Detroit, Texas and NY in that order for the AL crown.

    I’m also wondering about Philly in the NHL this year. How are they expected to do this season?

  28. JAL says:

    The NCAA football stuff can make your spin. The TCU story, if true, means teams now join and leave a league without even playing a game.

  29. RalphM says:


    Another link saying it is a done deal

    What domino is next?

  30. Milo Hamilton says:


    You said in your chat that you haven’t been hearing “chatter” on possible interest in Pedro Alvarez. Troy Renck is reporting the Rockies interest in the Denver Post. He says they are “casting a wide net” for a third baseman.

    DK: That’s fine. I’ve heard nothing of the kind.

  31. Arriba Wilver says:

    Technically, what Renck reported was that the Rockies inquired about Alvarez and a couple others during the summer and basically had the door slammed in their face. He speculated that they would look again (maybe at the same players) in the off season because their 3B’s still stink. I think it got blown out of proportion.

  32. JAL says:

    Mesa lose 8-8, still winless. Grossman was 1-4 with a double, RBI, walk and K

    Mike Colla went 1.2 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 unearned run, 2 K

  33. Arriba Wilver says:

    Only the Pirates can lose 8-8. :-)

  34. JAL says:

    Opps, meant 8-7:)

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