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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

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.

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