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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Thanks to Penguins fans


Brief and to the Point …

>> Been a few years since I covered pucks on a regular basis, and I could go on and on here about how much I enjoyed doing it again over the past season. But I’d hope that shows on a daily basis.

Thank you to those of you who read who are old enough to remember my initial few years on the Penguins beat, as well as to those of you who accepted me this time around. Heaven knows, that isn’t easy in this particular community.

I’ve long said the three most dangerous words you can ever say to a hockey fan are: I KNOW HOCKEY.

No fan feels their knowledge, passion and loyalty being threatened quite like the hockey fan. If you know the Xs and Os of a penalty-kill, then someone else will top you with all the names of the forwards on Edmonton’s fourth line … of their AHL affiliate!

Anyway, ill-fated as my Penguins-win-the-Cup pick was, I’ll stand by my original calls of Nashville winning the West, Los Angeles upsetting Vancouver, and Washington and Ottawa being better than most people think.

>> A special thanks, as well, to Mario Lemieux, David Morehouse, Ray Shero, Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, James Neal, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury for their trust throughout the year. They are superlative people who are the lifeblood of a superlative franchise.

In particular, I want to emphasize one more time how fortunate our city is to have gotten Crosby back.

That seems to be getting taken for granted, but it shouldn’t. This is someone who, just a couple months ago, was bouncing around the country seeking answers to a condition no one could even identify. His future was uncertain, as a player and a person.

Imagine how much a full summer of health, happiness and yeah, a little chip on his shoulder placed by the Flyers, could mean to 87 next season.

>> All the defensemen in Wilkes-Barre should be told that these Calder Cup playoffs are Stage 1 of their tryouts for next season. Let them know — especially Simon Despres, Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo — they’ve got a real chance at making it in Pittsburgh.

The notion that there’s no room up here was perpetuated by management, and it’s time for it to end.

Oh, and email a copy of that memo to Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington, too.

Why not?

>> Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were expected to wear their poker faces for their annual pre-draft news conference yesterday on the South Side, but one could get the distinct impression they genuinely don’t know who they’ll take. Or even the top target.

I know this much: All things being equal between a nose tackle and most other positions — and much talk has focused on Memphis behemoth Dontari Poe — I’ll take the other positions. In the modern NFL, you’re going to see teams use a nose tackle on less than half the defensive snaps because of all the three- and four-wide sets. I don’t want to see a first-rounder invested in that.

And that’s especially true if a middle linebacker — Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower is a common projection for the Steelers — is in the mix.

With Lawrence Timmons at one steady spot and another top talent in the middle, you’ll see a lot less double-teaming against LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison on the outside.

>> If you believe, as I do, that nobody’s more knowledgeable than Baseball America about the sport’s developmental level, you might want to spare yourself from this scathing assessment of Pedro Alvarez offered by some major-league scouts via BA editor Jim Callis.

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