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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: ‘Money on the board’


Brief and to the Point …

>> My Monday column looks at the NFL’s epic hypocrisy in suddenly being outraged by bounties.

>> Players paying players happens all over sports and, for the most part, it’s not a big deal. Even in the cases of these Saints and Redskins, a good portion of the money put up rewarded things like interceptions, fumble recovering, special-teams play and the like.

Happens in baseball and hockey, too. And if you need a reminder about the latter, the Penguins’ Matt Niskanen gleefully offered one Wednesday night from Dallas, two days before the NFL story broke.

Niskanen was being interviewed on the bench moments after the Penguins’ shootout win over the Stars. NBC’s Pierre McGuire’s first question — first one! — was whether or not there was “money on the board” in the Penguins’ locker room. Niskanen cheerfully replied that there was.

I’ll say it again: It’s not a big deal. This is highly common when players face former teams, to put up a reward for everyone else if they beat them. It’s a far cry from asking someone to, say, chop off Jamie Benn’s legs. I’d be stunned if James Neal and the Stars’ Alex Goligoski — the other components of that trade — didn’t have similar offers with their teams.

But it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the NFL’s ugliest bounty systems took root in innocuous events like these, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see all four major sports look strongly into eliminating all of it.

>> The Washington Capitals are a wretched, blessed mess. That is all.

>> The Coyotes are in town tonight and, just last week, that looked like it would be a huge challenge for the Penguins. Phoenix’s big Mike Smith went 11-0 with a .952 save percentage in February.

But all you to know about the Coyotes’ last two games is to listen to how disgusted these announcers sound after one of Rick Nash’s goals in lowly Columbus’ easy win the other night.

>> It takes some doing to be named Big East preseason player of the year, then not make the conference’s first, second or third all-star teams at season’s end. Ashton Gibbs was honorable mention.

>> A shout-out here to the Robert Morris women’s hockey team — that’s Division I, for those who don’t follow — won the College Hockey America championship Saturday for their first-ever league title. And they did so by beating No. 6-ranked Mercyhurst, which had won the previous nine titles.

Here are video highlights …


The men’s team had a hugely uplifting win last night, too, beating AIC, 4-3, in overtime of the decisive Game 3 of their first-round series.

If you’re wondering why more attention isn’t paid to the Colonials’ program, you’ve got two easy choices:

1. The local media barely knows the programs exist.

2. Those teams need to get off Neville Island.

One way or another, Robert Morris and the Penguins need to work out something at Consol, which has amazing capability to shrink its visible capacity through dark, heavy curtains.

>> My weekly appearance on the online-only TribLIVE Radio is today at noon. I can’t promise I’ll have much of a voice. Been five hellish days with this flu, with no real improvement. Really strange.

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