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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Welcome back, obstruction!

Brief and to the Point …

>> Teemu Selanne’s breathtaking backhander made for a fine game-winning goal in the Penguins’ 2-1 loss to the Ducks last night. Hockey at its finest. But the game as a whole, as Kris Letang made clear afterward, was yet another in a long line of laughably officiated games around the NHL.

Be sure that obstruction is back. And it’s getting worse.

In talking with a couple of the Penguins’ players about this yesterday, they pointed mostly to the return of the defenseman chipping the forward as they go by on the forecheck, but also cited hooking, holding and everything else you’d hoped the league was smart enough to eradicate for good after the lockout.

Good luck getting that standard back now. Only way that happens is if a) the NHL admits all this and b) teams are set to watch all games turn into power-play festivals as they were right after the lockout.

If you read Josh Yohe’s fine article on this last week, you’ll know the league isn’t admitting anything.

>> Z apparently stands for Zamboni. How else to explain Zbynek Michalek yet again inexplicably dropping to all fours in an attempt to defend a player. Suffice it to say that didn’t work against the NHL MVP: Corey Perry slipped the puck through the tunnel and scored.

Paul Martin has a partner in more ways than one.

>> Let’s make this a daily event, as related to A.J. Burnett: Relax.

Been saying it for a week, and I’ll say it today and tomorrow and however long it takes for the Pirates and Yankees to stop staring and get it done: It will get done.

>> Thanks very, very much to all who wrote about the Civic Arena column yesterday. Amazing how we all can get moved by bricks and mortar like this.

>> Our weekly chat begins at noon, but you can submit entries as early as 6 a.m.


  1. egscoach says:

    DK…your personal feeling, as a fan, of obtaining Burnett? I say go for it. Innings eater who can miss some bats and facing the pitcher in the opposing lineup twice a game has to count for something. Right?

    DK: No reporter or columnist is a fan, but I know what you’re asking. I like the addition. I’ll have more on that coming in the near future.

  2. JAL says:

    JAL’s I’m A Fool, That’s Why Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

  3. JAL says:


    9 New York Daily News

    Yankees’ A.J. Burnett balks at trade that would send him to Angels for Bobby Abreu

    10 Duquesne Duke

    Destination North Shore: No longer just home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates

    11 Chicago Tribune

    Fox moves more MLB games to primetime: Baseball to take over Saturday evenings for eight straight weeks,0,881645.story

    12 New York Times

    Burnett Trade Grows Closer

  4. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    18 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Already Working Out, Confirms Right Shoulder Injury in 2011

    With the 24th Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Steelers Select… an Inside Linebacker

    With the 24th Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Steelers… Trade Down

    19 Steelers Depot

    - The Steel City Stare Down Between Roethlisberger and Haley Needs-to End Soon

    20 Steelers Gab

    Roethlisberger and Harrison Next Up to Restructure Their Deals

  5. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    21 Pitt Blather

    Expansiopocolypse: Staying for 2012

    22 Cardiac Hill

    A Plea To Continue The Backyard Brawl

    WVU Blogs

    23 Metro News

    Opinion–Big 12 Allows WVU a Chance to Race

    24 WV Illustrated

    Agreement Between WVU, Big East Spells Out Settlement


    25 Pensburgh

    Hot Hiller, Crafty Selanne push Ducks past Penguins 2-1

  6. JAL says:

    Title song by Charlie Gracie—Philadelphia’s first rock star. Had several hits in the late 50s. Just released an album with Peter Noone and Graham Nash doing some backup singing

  7. Ryan says:

    Obstruction is definitely back, at least in the past few weeks. But it is the NHL or in Lemieux’s words, ‘garage league’.

    It is a shame the Pens could not get to Hiller for more second chance opportunities early on because Hiller was bobbling the puck badly. He seemed to settle down in the second but the Pens needed one more in the first (Mr. Obvious, I know). A few posts (both ways) help out as well. Its amazing how the few mistakes made by either team ended up in the net.

    ~ Selanne may have lost a step, but he has not lost the touch. That backhand was nasty.

    ~ Late period goals are killers.

    ~ The Ducks were the more desperate team and it showed (sans the first period).

  8. Sean says:

    JAL – Here’s another link for you (and everyone else) for today. The fourth annual Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament is underway.

  9. Milo Hamilton says:


    Obstruction is back in all it’s glory, but it’s not just this year. The officiating has gradually been regressing to pre-lockout standards since the lockout ended. This is no more evident than in the amount of goals being scored.

    The year prior to the lockout only one team, Detroit, averaged more than 3 goals per game. The year after the lockout 16 teams averaged more than 3 a game. The “new” NHL if you will. Last year – only 4 teams scored more than 3 a game. I don’t know which NHL this is, but I don’t like it very much.

  10. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Wondering where your “it will get done” comes from on the Burnett deal. Might it be one of your many sources or is it closer to “the Steelers will beat the Ravens” and “the Pirates will hit” type statements? Not in a mean way, but just wondering. It can fall off the table for my take, but I’m no judge of talent. I liked Jose Bautista when he was in Pittsburgh. Would have saved this question for the chat, but the room is so full now, hard to get in.

  11. Milo Hamilton says:

    My last word on AJ Burnett until something happens. Beware the “mystery team”. They’re having a great off season.

  12. JAL says:


    I think it comes from experience covering these type of deals. Based on probability from the evidence compared to past deals.

  13. Milo Hamilton says:

    The Red Sox have signed Ross Ohlendorf.

    Fried chicken & beer for everyone !

  14. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Your answer makes sense and I agree with you, but, when it comes to the PBC, sometimes we throw common sense out the window. No need for examples. You’ve seen them all. Thanks.

  15. JoeBucco says:

    Not sure how to get these to JAL on this site, but here’s the article form from the Michael McKenry interview for those interested.

    Man, I can’t wait for spring training to get started. The annual spring over-optimism is probably at record levels for me. If we can just stay healthy and Pedro is what we hoped Pedro would be… ;)

  16. Jandy says:

    Countdown: 2 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!

    (Grout, hope you’re having fun!)

  17. Jandy says:

    Watching the Pens and Ducks last night was like watching the WIld and the Ducks the evening before. Uncanny.
    Ducks were losing by score of 1-0 thru the second period. Tied it up. Then scored late to win.
    Goaltenders were a huge factor in both games.

    Bottom line…Selanne stole it for the Ducks.

  18. Corey says:

    It seems to me like NHL officials are much, much worse than officials in the other major leagues when it comes to rule changes or rule interpretations handed down by the league. In NFL, when they change what constitutes an illegal hit on the QB is, or what intentional grounding is defined as, the officials seems to willingly adapt. When MLB combined the NL and AL umpires and tried to standardize the strike zone, there was some grumbling, but it got done.

    In the NHL, it seems like a constant battle between the league saying they don’t want obstruction, and the officials refusing to call obstruction penalties. And the referees always seem so indignant that anyone from the league office would DARE tell them how to do their jobs.

  19. BenderHeel says:

    DK: Do we really want the Burnett deal to get done? $6 million a year for a 35 year old pitcher with back-to-back 5+ ERA seasons? The last time he was sub 4 ERA was five years ago. Color me unexcited that they want to spend that much money foolishly.

  20. LuckyNKentucky says:

    No. Free Brad Lincoln, Jeff Locke and many others.

  21. Milo Hamilton says:

    The Pirates beat Garrett Jones in arbitration. He’ll get $2.25 million. They also settled with Casey McGehee prior to his hearing. So, other than renewing 0-3 year players & this other thing of which I will not speak, they’re done.

  22. LuckyNKentucky says:

    That’s a great victory. They saved a quarter million and alienated a legend. Now they can spend 6.5 mil. on A.J. What did McGehee sign for?

  23. JAL says:


    McGehee agreement number not known yet.

  24. Milo Hamilton says:

    Casey McGehee settled for $2.375 mil. Exactly the midpoint per Rob Biertempfel.

  25. JAL says:

    Yep, just announced the number.

  26. tmp444 says:

    DK — after reading what you said about Selanne yesterday, I give you this.

    I listened to the game in the car last night. About 10 seconds before Selanne scored, Mike Lange said something to the effect of: “Careful, Selanne is open on the side boards….” Right then I just felt he was going to score. Two passes and a helluva backhand later, the Ducks were up 2-1. Amazing.

    DK: Mike’s always been great like that. His anticipation is second to none.

  27. JAL says:

    McGehee also can get another $137,500 in bonuses based on plate appearances

  28. scapper says:

    Yet another indication of just how ridiculous the Pirates have become (as if we need another reminder) is the amount of attention devoted to this possible Burnett deal. I could understand all the comments and speculation (and not just here…I’m talking several other blogs, as well) if the player in question were Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but we’re talking A.J. Burnett.

    This is not a criticism of the fans or anyone commenting on it here. It just speaks to how much the Pirates have warped the fans’ perception of what is important or of what might constitute a commitment to winning.

  29. JoeBucco says:

    I wish every contract had performance bonuses in them. Not plate appearance bonuses, but why not offer Legend a deal with $500k for 30 HR’s? Wouldn’t it be worth it if he got there? How about every player has a bonus for team goals, like a winning record? Everyone gets a check to celebrate the 82nd win. Why not?

  30. BenderHeel says:

    scapper: I don’t see how the media attention on the potential AJ Burnett deal – shoot, it’s even being covered on the front page of – being an indictment of the PBC. That’s grasping at straws, IMO.

  31. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good plan. Bob Nutting flinched as you wrote.

  32. Matty G says:

    Doing so you’d make the issue of getting players who want to play here even worse. Which would make the issue of winning games even worse, which in turn cycles back and makes the “players wont play here” issue worse. It’s just no good.

    Not even considering the fact that performance-related bonuses instead of higher salary are generally something that players/agents hate and teams love. Generally wouldn’t happen.

    With the clutch and grab, I think the value the Pens assign to a player like Gill at the deadline only increases. Which is what teams like Montreal hope.

  33. Milo Hamilton says:

    Performance related bonuses are not allowed in major league baseball. It’s a collectively bargained issue.

  34. radio wave says:

    I think all the attention focused on the possible AJ trade is because he is considered even at his advanced age, to be better than anyone they currently have.
    Milo, thanks for the Ross O-Red Sox update.
    As a Sox fan, i don’t get it.
    Jandy, thanks for keeping the countdown going.
    If anyone cares, as a fill in until March, college baseball starts tomorrow.

  35. twentytwo22 says:

    Going to arbitration over $250,000 makes the Pirates look petty, again.

  36. JAL says:


    only if you want to. That’s system baseball has. Where would the cut line be–$350,000 apart, $500,000 apart? If I make what i think is a fair offer I will stick to it?

  37. Milo Hamilton says:


    On your chat today you said that the Steelers pass/run ratio in 2011 was 52/48 and “share that with a fan & they won’t believe you.” For good reason. It isn’t true. Their pass/run ratio was actually 57/43. Here are the stats:

    DK: Perils of live chat. Thanks. Fixing it now.

  38. Jandy says:

    Radio, it’s nice someone noticed ;)

  39. CWalton_67 says:

    Obstruction is as big of a threat to the as the concussion epidemic. Josh did a nice article on this, but didn’t get into why the NHL is denying what is clearly evident. I want to see the great players play the game, not Hal Gill holding someone. And that said, I also dearly hope that GMRS is smart enough to leave him in Montreal. Wonder how Mario feels about all? #GarageLeague

  40. Drew71 says:

    “Take it back!”


    That’s MY line.

    Give it back

  41. radio wave says:

    Always appreciate the countdown whether it’s given by you or Groat.
    When you reach zero, start another countdown to the first exhibition game.

  42. Statz61 says:

    Was there any talk between the Pirates and Yankees where the Pirates give Jones (or pirate prospect)/taking on more money for Burnett/and a yankee propect?

  43. Jandy says:

    radfio ~ we’ll have to take that up with Groat when he gets back!

  44. Naje says:

    @Milo…. “I have a picture, pinned to my wall…” what a memory that was. Had my first beer across the street from the Igloo… can’t remember the name of the crowded little bar. Was at that show… 2nd row… quite close to the winsome Alannah Currie…

  45. Milo Hamilton says:


    Was at a local establishment last Saturday night with some friends & they were playing 80’s music. That was one of them. Winsome indeed.

  46. JohninOshkosh says:

    For you youngsters-what Naje and Milo got to hear back in 85 at the Igloo. Would have loved to have seen this song live-with the synchronized lights and all. A great achievement of the synthpop era.

  47. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    Just read where Gary Carter has passed away.

    My best tribute to him, as a Pirate fan, is to say ‘I hated his guts.”

    Why? Because we was a competitor. Hated losing more than anything.

    I’d love to see that quality in the demeanor of some of the current Pirates.

  48. Anthony Fail says:


    The Pirates take a lot of abuse in the media for not always being fan friendly, and recently when I found myself in a messy situation involving ticketing, I feared the worst. In early December, I organized a large group of devoted Pirate fans to purchase opening day tickets, a tradition our group has embraced since we were children. We put down our deposit, secured seats down the third base line and started counting down the days until April 5th. After all, nothing beats playing hookie from work, drinking beers in the parking lot and the overall feeling of euphoria we feel when that first pitch is thrown.

    By late January, we realized something was wrong. We contacted our ticket representative, and were horrified to learn that our tickets had not been guaranteed. Our deposit only ensured us a spot on the waiting list and all of the tickets had sold out.

    We were crushed. No tickets. No baseball. No nachos with double cheese. No more tradition. The thought of sitting at work listening to the game on the radio brought me to tears.

    In an act of desperation, I left a voice message with the administrative offices of the Pirates. Imagine my surprise when I received a phone call back from Pirates president Frank Coonelly, who assured me that he would “make it right.”

    Today, I am happy to report that Mr. Coonelly has made it right. The Pirates were able to find us tickets for the game and have invited us to a future game as guests of the team. They didn’t have to call us back, they didn’t have to make it right, but they did. There hasn’t always been a lot to cheer for these past twenty years, but the Pirates have shown our group that they do care. Only 49 more days until that first pitch.

  49. likeabugonarug says:

    And here I though Naje was talking about the Thompson Twins……. “Hold Me Now”.

  50. likeabugonarug says:

    OK, I finally got his name reference. Yes, Alannah was the cute gal in Thompson Twins.

  51. Milo Hamilton says:

    Naje’s original reference was to a Thompson Twins / OMD concert at the Arena. So everyone’s right. Alannah Currie is now 54 years old. My how time flies.

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