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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The neverending meeting

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column lists eight reasons why the Penguins will back Ray Shero’s bold playoff statement made last week to our Josh Yohe.

>> The meeting the Penguins ostensibly held Jan. 6 is an issue that doesn’t seem to go away, and you’ll have to trust me that’s not because I’m perpetuating it. Haven’t printed another word about it beyond the 14th paragraph of the original column, some tweets and what I’m about to put here.

On Tuesday, I’ll be covering the morning skate and game at Consol, as I usually would. After that, I’m done with this topic for good.

>> Fact is, it wasn’t that big a deal to begin with. If I thought it was a big deal, some all-out mutiny, I would have made it the first paragraph.

This is what actually was in the column

Last week in Pittsburgh, according to three sources, a group of players held a 45-minute meeting to discuss a temporary captaincy. Another source disputed that any such meeting occurred.

For crying out loud, it wasn’t even definitive. I identified a source who denied the meeting ever happened. Somehow, that sentence has been glossed over. I’ve actually seen excerpts of the paragraph run by responsible outlets that omitted the sentence entirely!

>> That said, my own feeling on the meeting has strengthened all the more since the column was published. The Trib has heard more information that it took place. A few players were involved (remember, the column’s only quantification was “some”), that the discussion didn’t take all that long out of the 45 minutes. As you can clearly tell by nothing having changed on the Penguins’ end, the concept of a temporary captain was shot down. None of this is different than what we heard initially except the condensed time period.

And all this, to keep repeating myself, is why I didn’t make some big deal of it.

It wasn’t a big deal. Losing teams talk about all kinds of things. They were in the midst of their worst streak in a while, and they’ve got people who don’t like it. That’s to their credit.

What bothered me — and prompted the column — was that I saw a whole pattern of things happening around Crosby which seemed to be swirling in the direction that the Penguins and the world’s best player would part ways, coupled with his contract status and health and the other stuff in the column. I decided, based on a lot of conversations, to support Crosby. That’s what I did.

You can imagine, in this setting, why that might be unpopular with some in the locker room.

>> So, why aren’t names attached to the reporting?

This is simple: Unless someone came through on the record — never going to happen — we’d be trying to describe a meeting that only a fly on the wall could do. It’s one thing to say there was a meeting, another to say the topic, and it’s on another planet altogether to start reading off the minutes and naming names. At a newspaper, all information and sources are disclosed to the editors. There’s a process, s a standard. Neither we nor anyone else is in a position to describe specifics of a meeting we didn’t personally attend.

Think of it this way: Someone can tell you that a politician conducted a campaign rally at a church in Alabama, and that she discussed the economy. You’re OK with printing that, depending on the someone. But how good would you feel about describing the scene, the mood, who attended and what was said without being there?

>> This one’s my favorite: Either I’m lying or Ray Shero’s lying.

Come on now, think a little bit here.

If the Trib is told X information and the Trib publishes it, then Shero hears Y information from his players when asking about it — which he did — isn’t it entirely possible that we’re both being honest about the information we received and that Shero’s being honest about the information he received?

I had a long talk with Shero on Saturday, and that will remain private. But I can characterize this much: He took no issue with the column or its reporting. None whatsoever. He believes that the information we have was achieved honestly. He also happens to believe his players. And he has every right to do that. They’re his players. It’s his team. And you can tune in to Mark Madden’s show today to hear more from Shero.

Seriously, stop for a second and put yourself in Shero’s shoes. If all of your players tell you that no captaincy discussion ever occurred, are you for a second going to say to them, “Hey, but I believe this reporter over you!” Even if he really did — and I’m not suggesting he does — he’d be an idiot to do that. And those of you who know of Shero’s work know he’s anything but an idiot.

I thought he handled this very well. Thought the team handled it well, too, with the whole “C” thing.

>> This was my smiling Brady Bunch mug on KDKA-TV’s ‘Showdown’ last night.

>> My weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio is today at 11:30 a.m. I’ll also be on with Tim Benz on the X at 9:35 a.m. I’m sure we’ll be discussing the Syrian revolution.


  1. Leah Backus says:

    It amazes me how so many people lack a fundamental understanding of journalistic ethics. Or maybe I shouldn’t be? Maybe it isn’t something you understand unless you’ve studied it. Regardless, people need to understand that revealing sources is the difference between a reputable newspaper and a gossip column, or worse.

    You don’t mean that after tomorrow you’re not covering the Pens anymore, do you??

    DK: Are you serious, Leah?

    No, I just meant I’m through talking about this particular thing that has had way more of a shelf life than it ever deserved.

  2. WKC says:

    Good stuff, but you realize that after your appearance on ‘The Fan’, I heard several segments on “either I’m lying or Ray Shero’s lying” point you bring up.

    What drives me a bit crazy is the some of the substance of your column. I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, but I do believe that:

    A. A vast majority don’t think Crosby is ‘soft’ for not playing.

    B. A vast majority don’t call into and/or text talk shows.

    C. Talk shows and columnists eat up the minority opinion and get mileage out of it.

    While I enjoy your work, I don’t buy that you think people shouldn’t react out of order because your statement on Crosby as captain wasn’t placed at the start of the column. Furthermore, it also seems to be a backdepal that would make Willie Gay envious since you wrote it in terms of applauding the ‘C’ from his teammates on twitter, Shero’s comments, etc.

    Personally, I believe you when you say the meeting happened, and that it’s not a big deal. I also believe you placed it well into what I see as a minority view of Crosby in this city.

    If nothing else, you got people to talk about your column, which I guess is the main point in your business.

  3. John Lease says:

    Now that you are done with this, could we get back to package deals for the Pirates? :)

    DK: Soup for all!

  4. Deb says:

    I’m sorry DK but the more ‘details’ you filter out, the worse this who “coup” story becomes. Seven or eight vetern players hold a ‘faction meeting?’ Vetern players have been around hockey long enough to know that if the real agenda is to address team issues then the FULL team is invited…not a faction from the team that talks about the “team” behind everyones back. This faction that is “veterns trying to fix a team” also doesn;t discuss the “C” especially given the fact that the “C” is not something that is theirs to influence or change. Then having done this, the players now LIE to Ray Shero?

    I agree that Shero is probably representing what his players have told him when he says he has been told no meeting happened. Even if they are trying Bill Clinton tactics “definiation of meeting” this is lying.

    Bottom line, if the meeting happened then there is no way around the fact that THE PLAYERS LIED to either you or Ray Shero (their boss). These Pen players/team will have to work pretty hard to regain my respect.

  5. JAL says:

    7 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker


    8—Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates 1907 Season

    Brock Holt Interview: 2012 Version

    Winter League Playoffs 1/15 — A Loss For Figueroa

    9 Bucs Dugout

    Jeff Passan Rips Pirates, Completely Forgetting What He Wrote Six Months Ago

  6. JAL says:

    10 The Green Weenie

    Resop Signed During the Doldrums

    11 Rumbunter

    Pirates Minor Leagues: Can A Bigger Tony Sanchez Be Better in 2012?


    12 Naples News

    NDN HALF MARATHON: Wife of Pirates’ Chris Resop runs for Pediatric Cancer Foundation

    13 Examiner

    Pirates and Marauders to hold National Anthem auditions Saturday January 28

    14 Beaver County Times

    Perrotto: Can’t spell ‘win’ without Edwin

  7. JAL says:

    15 Pirates Dugout

    Jones hopes to prove himself in 2012

    16 Chicago Sun-Times

    Cubs’ apparent budgetary constraints stress need to find Next Big Thing

    17 Chicago Tribune

    Bean-counting GM Beane deserves a better place to work–20120116,0,2461125.column

    18 Boston Herald

    If Rangers sign slugging Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton’s future could be in doubt

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    The Broncos Get Crushed by the Patriots, 45-10, and the Steelers Probably Still Can’t Believe What Happened Last Week

    Crazy Thought: Trade Rashard Mendenhall?

    Hines Ward Didn’t Get Enough Opportunities this Season

    -Steelers Depot

    It’s Time for Some Time

    -Steelers Gab

    Polamalu Wins Appeal of $10,000 For Using Cell Phone on Sideline

  9. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Does Size Matter?

    Cardiac Hill

    Marquette 62, Pitt 57: It’s Still A Loss, But Things Looking Up

  10. MBS says:

    Agree that the players meeting thing is totally overblown, and who cares if some wondered about appointing a temporary captain? By the way DK, your comments on Crosby don’t mention what kind of job he’s actually doing as team captain while he’s been injured this past year. Any insight on that? If he has done a poor job communicating the status of his injury with media, players etc, how has he been communicating in his role as captain? I’m not being negative about Sid, and agree WKCs comments about Crosby critics being a very small minority. He’s the best professional athlete role model for my kids I could ever hope to have – and he’s a Penguin to boot!
    One last question for DK. Will you have to “foil up” before going back into the Pens locker room today, and will you bring Yohe along as your enforcer?

    DK: Not a concern, Matt.

  11. Jandy says:

    DK, seems to me that you did a good thing with your Crosby/meeting column. You lit a fire under some butts. Think about it…they won their last two games. And they’ve had a history of losing in Florida. So, keep up the good work, DK!

    DK: The Penguins started playing like this last Wednesday in Washington.

  12. Skip says:

    DK – have any of your three sources since contradicted themselves in public comments to the media?

    DK: No names. No hints toward names.

  13. Bizrow says:


    This is why you are the best in the Burgh. Thanks

  14. Eric Bowser says:

    Skip – I don’t think DK can answer that, if he says yes, then we can quickly figure out the few guys who have been quoted on tv, radio or print (newspapers) or if he says no, then you eliminate those who have said something and it reduces the field of possibilities.

    For those who don’t know, a guy in Calgary (Eric Francis) with a reputation for being out of the loop, criticized Dejan as being out of the loop – yet the record shows DK has been to numerous games and practices at home plus road trips.

    If anyone is out of the loop, it would be Francis on his own hometown team as he reported on twitter that former Flame Michael Callammeri isn’t coming back, 9 minutes later, a guy in Montreal reports the trade between the Flames and Canadiens.

    Now, who is out of the loop?

  15. Cocktailsfor2 says:

    Of COURSE Francis is making a big deal out of this – otherwise, he’d have to do some work of his own.

    Non-issues do not make news, sell papers or generate clicks on websites.

  16. Tim says:

    When I commented on your article, I specifically said I give you credit for not naming your sources. I understand and respect that. It’s like when someone tells you a secret, or shares with you something they don’t want repeated, you have to respect that, no matter how much you are pressured otherwise. My comment was not naming the players – that leads to wild speculation – which it did. In the forum that followed – numerous people were saying ‘Its’ got to be Orpik, Staal, blah, blah, blah, they are the most outspoken.’ That’s dangerous, man. That’s all.

  17. Sarcastic Sword says:

    So now the story isnt a big deal?

    You write a column about it and then appear on The Fan for more than 1 segment on Fri but its not a big deal

    . A few vets have a meeting to discuss a possible temporary captaincy (which I agree with by the way, similar to when Hillier, Coffee, and Trottier took turns in 91) – how isnt that a big deal? No need to try to leesen the impact of your column. Kudos to you for asking the questions which led to you uncovering this info – just dont make it out like its a ho-hum bit of information that no one would be excited about.

    DK: Was going to be on the Fan, anyway, that day. Had dropped off coffee for wife at work and was five minutes away from Fan. Sat in studio, and Joe asked if I could stay another segment. Said I could stay for another half-segment and did.

    Didn’t suggest it was ho-hum information. Just said it’s not as big a deal as some are making it, if only because some are immensely exaggerating it.

  18. Jandy says:

    @ Greg ~ I followed your link, and I have to say, for a columnist/write, DaPaoli is very grammatically incorrect. his command of proper grammar is atrocious. How can anyone believe what he writes?

    I’ll stand by Dejan.

  19. Jandy says:

    make that columnist/writer
    fdarn grammar anyway ;)

  20. JohninOshkosh says:

    According to a sports columnist for the Damascus Tribune-Review, “some” ministers in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government also discussed a temporary replacement to Crosby’s captaincy…..oh never mind.

  21. JAL says:

    Pirates and Hanrahan have agreed to a contract, avoiding arbitration. Keith Law says $4.1 million

  22. January 16

    33 days until Pirate Spring Training

  23. JohninOshkosh says:

    Great and welcomed news about Hanrahan.

  24. CWalton_67 says:

    I’ve said all along that the Pens have surprisingly handled the communications regarding Sid’s health status very poorly. Given the class with which the organization demonstrably operates, I am led to believe that Sid’s “camp” has been less than forthcoming with his health information. Sid himself deserves some criticism if this is the case. It’s also why I said I would not condemn any Pens players for having the meeting as reported by Dejan. As he stated, players should be talking about how to improve the team during difficult times. Why is the discussion of a temporary captaincy seen as mutinous given the apparent lack of information surrounding Sid’s status? We all seek leadership, and a group of professional hockey players, concerned with the recent poor play of their team, and who perceive a leadership vacuum, can be expected to do the same.

    I was surprised to read that Dejan felt that there was a pattern of things going on which might have led to Sid leaving the organization. That’s pretty strong and again indicative of very poor communications between Sid’s “camp” and Pens management.

    I think Sid is the best role model in all of sports and that we’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to watch him play in a Pens uniform. I also think he’s been getting some very bad advice from his “camp” about communicating his health status to his employer. Some very short sighted advice, at the very least.

    Go Pens. #C #K

  25. BB says:


    You said in the blog above:
    “It wasn’t a big deal. Losing teams talk about all kinds of things. They were in the midst of their worst streak in a while, and they’ve got people who don’t like it. That’s to their credit.”

    Yet you also claim that the meeting was held prior to the January 6th contest against the Rangers. You do realize that they had only lost 2 in a row at that point? This alleged meeting wasn’t held after losing 6 straight. It wasn’t like they were in freefall when the meeting took place.

    I’m not sure why you’re so amazed at the reaction to this bomb you dropped on Friday. Overall it was a good column, but when you report about a secret meeting such as you did, you should not be surprised at the response by fans and the team. You better be careful. You’ll be getting the Jon Clayton “Shouldergate” response over at Pens headquarters. I’m sure the Trib is pretty happy with the webhits they got as a result of your column though.

    DK: Whole bunch of replies: The latter, again, isn’t a concern. Been doing this a long time. … I have no idea about the web hits. Haven’t heard about them at all. … Response by fans, via Twitter mentions and email to me, was overwhelmingly positive. And I’m talking 95 percent, well above even the standard thing I write. … You’re right about the losing streak. but they’d laid more eggs than that after the Dec. 23 game in Winnipeg.

  26. MattyGabe says:

    Didn’t realize people were still fixating on the whole meeting thing. I didn’t really think it was a mutiny, and since you’re not 100% sure if it even happened I certainly can’t be – I’m only taking your word for it as a reader!

    And the whole “Either Dejan or Shero is lying” bit, maybe that’s due to the fact that lying inherently implies a bit of deceit on the part of both parties, which in this instance is patently wrong. While true that both statements cannot be wholly “true”, and that one of you is saying something that is ultimately “false”, but that doesn’t necessitate that one of you is lying. To the best of both of your knowledge, you are both saying what is believed to be true.

    But, geesh, do we really need to get into those specifics? Methinks a Pens losing streak gets people a little too jumpy :)

  27. jackdeloplane says:

    As I see it, DK had two choices when he found out about the meeting. Ignore it as rumor, or try to substiantiate it with multiple sources. He did the latter then submitted it for publication.

    A writer can’t make the decision to either go with or not go with a story based on potential reaction by the fan base/organization. If he has the sources and its newsworthy, then I assume its a no-brainer. he has a duty to report authentic stories. If he has multiple sources (and we have no reason not to believe he does) then he really doesn’t have too tough of a choice. In fact, he went over and above by presenting the readers with the fact that one source denied the meeting took place.

    Now, he mentioned today that he thinks the column and meeting were no big deal. Now he is commenting from opinion (and I assume his sources verified that their feelings were the same).

    Like someone above said, talk radio and bloggers latch on to the minority opinion and run with it. Ho, hum

    Kudos for DK for following proper protocol and for giving us an inside look at how the Pens are handling the Crosby situation. As a result, perhaps the Pens Mgt will be more forthcoming to both the fans and the players regarding 87’s health and we’ll all be the beneficiaries.

    DK: Appreciate that, Jack. Experience in newspapers on your end?

  28. jackdeloplane says:

    oh, and Jandy, 65 degrees and sunny today!

  29. jackdeloplane says:

    No newspaper experience, but spent a great deal of time with spokesmen and women for DoD and government officials in my prevous life, so I have a small amount of insight into sourcing and differentiating verifiable fact from opinion.

    I suspect that as a columnist you spend a good portion of your sleepless nights ensuring that you made a clear distinction between your opinion and sourcing facts. It must be a fine line you walk, and i’ve seen you take great pains to draw that distinction for the readers. Not an easy job, especially when you grew up a fan of these teams.

    It pains me deeply as a Franklin Regional grad to praise a Gateway grad, but I give you credit (Ha!)

    DK: No sleepless nights on this one, believe me.

  30. Jandy says:

    jack ~ well, since we have a heat wave today (35 and sunny) I won’t cry this time…but man, do you have to keep rubbing it in? ;)

  31. BB says:

    “DK: Whole bunch of replies: The latter, again, isn’t a concern. Been doing this a long time. … I have no idea about the web hits. Haven’t heard about them at all. … Response by fans, via Twitter mentions and email to me, was overwhelmingly positive. And I’m talking 95 percent, well above even the standard thing I write. … You’re right about the losing streak. but they’d laid more eggs than that after the Dec. 23 game in Winnipeg.”

    Dejan, I’ve respected and enjoyed your writing for many years. You’re probably at the top of list in terms of Pittsburgh Sports writers. I agree that the Crosby situation was mishandled by many parties. Lack of communication was the problem, as you noted in the column. It appears that problem is being addressed and that’s a good thing. I’m just saying that I’m surprised you were amazed by the reaction about the meeting. As soon as I read that part of the article, I said to myself “Wow, there’s dessession in that locker room”. It’s ironic because now it seems like your column has become a rallying point for the team in light of the 2 game win street and the solidarity shown in practice Friday.

  32. Skip says:

    @ Eric & DK – I thought I could be clever and maybe DK would let some info slip out…not even close! Can’t blame me for trying ;-)

    On a serious note, @jackdeloplane is right on the mark. How can any worthwhile journalist hear newsworthy information and not report it – whether they like what they’re hearing not? (except for the folks at Newsweek, of course who spiked the Clinton/Lewinsky story)

  33. BB says:

    Sorry: “Street” should be “Streak”. My editor sucks. LOL.

  34. JAL says:

    Pirates sign Morton for $2.445 million contract, another not going to arbtration

  35. jackdeloplane says:


    Sorry, my brother. …just livin the dream! Check me when its 105 degrees with 98% humidity in Aug, then I’ll be pining for the ‘burgh

  36. jackdeloplane says:


    Perhaps Newsweek didn’t consider adultery by a sitting President newsworthy. Or so harmful to a Prez they liked they spiked it. Drudge did and the rest is history

    Its actually a decent comparison, since I assume DK grew up a fan of the Pens and all Pittsburgh teams. Must add another layer of angst to writing difficult stories. Or maybe it used to, but he’s been on the job for some years now, so now its easier.

    I love the fact that this blog discusses journalistic ethics and intellignet sports topics and isn’t continually reduced to “malkin stinks!” which is what passes for intelligent discussion elsewhere.

  37. Milo Hamilton says:

    What meeting ?

  38. Jandy says:

    Jack…make that “sister” ;)

    Milo LOL!!!!

  39. scapper says:

    Deloplane…love your last paragraph. So true. Except I think you meant to write “Fleury” instead of Malkin. You know how bad he sucks and how inept he is and how he needs sent to Wilkes-Barre…after every loss. Unreal.

    This is one of only two places where I’ll read reader comments and occasionally weigh in myself. The discourse here stays far above the usual muck and mire, even when people are disagreeing. Kudos and thanks to all.

  40. jackdeloplane says:

    I just noticed I misspelled intelligent in my previous post. Not too intelligent here.

    @ scrapper, sorry, you are correct, he does stink. Except for when he doesn’t. I’d love to be as competent in my job as Malkin, Crosby, Flower and even any of the Pirates are. Just to be in the big leagues in any of these sports…

    @jandy, sorry, my SISTER. Hope no offense!

  41. Skip says:

    @jackdeloplane (& DK)

    I should probably clarify that I don’t think DK’s reporting would be swayed by whether or not he likes what he’s hearing, OR what WE might think of the information.

    I don’t ever want to learn of any serious dissension in the Pens’ locker room (and I’m not saying that’s happening now), but if it were to happen, it’s probably newsworthy.

  42. Jandy says:

    Jack, actually I took the “brother” as a compliment. I can’t sound too “female” if you thought me a brother. No puck bunny here.

    scapper, that’s why I’m here most days, the posters aren’t ignorant, and know how to agree to disagree without insulting anyone. Besides, that DK dude is one good writer…but don’t tell him that too much, we don’t want it to go to his head ;)

  43. Dan1283 says:

    Hey Dejan, I stumble across the Charlie Batch Wikipedia page tonight looking for his all-time record as a starter and find this little gem from….well let’s just say the first sentence opens with “Charlie Batch is 23 years old…”

    Pretty cool feature. Slow year on the Pens beat???

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