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Sunday column: Dear Ottawa Senators, shut up

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Sunday column takes aim at the Senators’ hollow complaints about the Penguins’ Matt Cooke and the Erik Karlsson injury.


Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Jason81 says:

    Here is all we need to know about the Senators and how moronic their whining is…Don Cherry DEFENDED Matt Cooke on Coach’s Corner tonight. If anyone was going to stand up for a Canadian team losing arguably their best player, it was going to be Mr. Cherry and what better way to do it than on HNIC. Nope, came to the defense of Matt Cooke.

    Time for the Senators and their management team to go away until April 22nd when we’ll anxiously watch the transaction page to see how many goons the Sens call up from Binghamton to engage in a scene like that Pens-Islanders game that was referenced.

  2. Jäger fan for life says:

    RMU men’s hockey beat Niagra tonight in OT 6-5. If you are a local hockey fan there is no better ticket value than heading to the island for some mucking and grinding.

  3. Ghost says:

    Can we use this opportunity to say “shut up” to Bob Nutting as well? Each year around this time either he, Coonelly or Huntington is insulting us with the same meaningless pap. Today was no different with all the phony talk about “expectations” and “pride” and all around happiness with the improvement the Pirates have made. He did have one new trick: a poor man’s Mike Tomlin-esque one-liner: “We welcome and embrace that shift in (fan) expectation.” (Dude Man, you are no Mike Tomlin.)
    Alright, until next year when he comes a-recycling the old same phony baloney.

  4. Pat4PGH says:

    Let’s hope next year Nutting does it sans the Tank and the Seal (and his trained buffoons)! Pirate fans deserve a competent management team given we are stuck with a do and know nutting owner. Fire Neal Huntington, please!

  5. Pat4PGH says:

    DK, really nice column! It is fascinating that the idiots running the NHL have let t all those comments go. Other, professional sports might have sanctioned them albeit to make the commish look tough. Should one of the Senator goons injure a Penguin, I would hope everyone from Mario to the local media scream for their incarceration in the local jail! I wanna take the NHL seriously, but they keep giving me reasons to see how comical and poorly run it is.

  6. JoeyBats says:

    Re: the Buccos and Bob Nutting at the start of Spring Training… can just run this recording year, after year,….. after year, …… after year…..after year ……

    (definition of insanity?) ;-)

  7. Eric Bowser says:

    Dejan – Great column, can’t wait to read the reactions up in Ottawa.

    Re: Pirates
    – Last year Huntington said the team should have been worse than the 16 games over .500 record. So I simply want to ask him before the season starts, what their metrics project for 2013. Put it on the record for everyone to know because Nutting saying he and everyone expects playoffs seems a little over the top.

  8. JAL says:

    JAL’s Over the Rainbow Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Contract Notes: Karstens, J. Sanchez, G. Sanchez, Hawpe, Inge

    First Pitch: Mark Appel Made a Very Common Decision

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Sign Two More to Minor League Contracts

    7 Janesville Gazette

    Braun stands by statement, focuses on baseball

    8 Baseball News Source

    Pittsburgh Pirates: 2013 Spring Training Preview Guide

    9 Rumbunter

    Pirates Neil Walker Is ‘Probably In Best Shape Of His Career’

    10 Green Weenie

    Pirate Pitching – A Plan or Seat of the Pants?

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Q&A | Pirates’ GM: ‘We’ve got to be a little stronger’

    12 Uniontown Herald Standard

    Three early thoughts on the Pirates

    13 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers, Penguins and Pirates could soon be sharing city of champions with NBA franchise

    14 Washington Post

    Nomadic career winding down, A.J. Burnett finds a home with young Pirates

    15 Sarasota Herald Tribune

    Orioles and Pirates anticipate huge spring season

    16 PBC Site

    Darkhorse Johnson eyes rotation spot with Bucs

    Inge excited for opportunity with blue-collar team

    17 Desert Sun

    Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner flew by the stars in WWII

    18 Sweetspot

    Teams should go with youth in bullpens

  9. JosePagan says:

    I just love how he touts the “progress” made. After all, who was responsible for gutting a team that was not very good in the first place and replacing it with a roster of players who are…ummm not all that much better than those on the team that they gutted?

    This is progress? Really?


  10. Pat4PGH says:

    All Neal’s metrics look backwards not forward, so Neal could NOT tell us what to expect until AFTER it has happened. That’s one of the reasons he is the worst GM in baseball.

  11. JosePagan says:

    Valid point. Neal LOVES to talk about “metrics” and their predictive value. Take Houston out of the equation and note the progress of the other teams in adding to their rosters. I am thinking it makes for an interesting projection…


  12. JosePagan says:

    The NHL survives despite itself.


  13. Drew71 says:

    One comment each about your hockey and baseball clubs…
    (See? I can do that unnamed thing, too)

    1. I’m certainly not wishing or hoping for it, but if the Matt the Ripper thing had happened to the Winnipeg Jets’ best player, one wonders (that’s my new name: One) if the whole dynamic would play out differently. Would their coach, GM and players have come out as immediately and harshly against Cooke? Would their press have piled on? Would Dejan have written in just the same blaze? Maybe. Maybe that all would play out just the same way. But maybe not. I’m not hoping to find out. Just raising an impossible-to-answer question because that’s what blogs are for.

    2. I was one of many that called this offseason for the almost clean sweep of this baseball club’s management team – everyone but Hurdle – and still believe it is needed. That said…C’MON ALREADY. We don’t need to blame the management team for EVERYthing they say and do to prove our angry bona fides. What ELSE are the owner and management team going to say at the beginning of Spring Training? That they don’t CARE about expectations? Should I despise Neal for being short? Should Frank be fired for his propensity for wearing dark clothes, for shaking fans’ hands; or Kyle for his buzz cuts? More importantly, does every public relations and BASEBALL move have to be attacked just to prove my displeasure?

    i STILL want an almost clean sweep of this management team but I am not going to try to prove it to the blogosphere by attacking every obvious, appropriate and meaningless PR statement they make.

    Even yesterday, when I was posting my observations of Pirate City practice, I realized that nearly all of what I wrote had nothing to do with whether they win or lose a single game. I posted it because I figured most of our frozen-tundra-locked bloggers would appreciate “seeing and feeling” Spring Training through my musings. My sense was you did, and I appreciated the kind acknowledgements.

    But I didn’t fool myself that anything I wrote was, you know, important. Size of Pedro’s butt? Who cares. Does he hit? How nice Grilli was to that little girl? Well. I care. But it has nothing to do with the effectiveness of his fastball or slider. And on and on.

    So why do I care when Bob Nutting or his team say the OBVIOUS about expectations?
    – i DON’T.

    Do I need to attack them for obvious PR statements because I disagree with their baseball decisions?
    – i DON’T.

    Does that mean I suddenly think they are a good management team?
    – it does NOT.

    — Drew the Ripper (or Drip for short)

  14. Florida Pirate says:

    Ha ha, that’s funny…I thought the exact same thing. All I saw was the blurb of the headline saying “my expectations are the same……”

    I thought, oh great you have the same expecttions as the rest of your staff. God knows what those are…second half fade, first half fade, mid fade.

    Love the Buccos!

  15. Drew71 says:

    Eric, that is a valid and good point. Whether one appreciates Neal’s work as GM or not (consider me a “not”), he often goes a verbal Bridge Too Far…making one more explanatory comment than he should. Not referring to his/their PR comments, but when he tries to explain his baseball decisions.

    As I recall, that ‘shoulda been worse’ line was at the end, not the beginning of his “we’re disappointed” comment. Should have left it at disappointed. But he always always always seems to cover himself in, um, verbal diarrhia. Run-on’s, so to speak.

    I used to say, ‘I hope he learns to stop doing that’. But he’s going on six years in his role. This IS Neal.

    It is far from his greatest failing as GM. If he was effective, if the Pirates were chasing their third straight playoff appearance this season, his, um, runs would be seen as comically endearing. Think of Cowher Speak.

    All this does for me is remind me of all the BASEBALL failings I blame him for. Comments in the shoulda-been-worse genre don’t really matter in and of themselves.

    They just sorta remind us of all the other REAL failings, don’t they?

  16. Thundercrack says:

    I agree with you Drew.

    And I’ll add that this is probably what every owner says in February. (The guy who on
    owns the Astros might have said something different)

    Plus isn’t this what Nutting said to DK at the end of last year!
    (when the tape recorder wasn’t on :-)

  17. LuckyNKentucky says:


  18. bradthedad says:

    I’m certainly not complaining but what precisely changed to make James Neal the player he is as opposed to the player he was in Dallas? He always was a nice player but remember Pens got him AND Niskanen for Goligoski. A change of scenery is nice and confidence is important but this has been stunning. What, he didn’t have a quick release in Dallas?

  19. JohninOshkosh says:


    Thanks so much for the picture of the spectacular International Human Rights Museum. At first blush I thought it was a Frank Gehry. But I went to the Museum’s site and learned it was designed by Antoine Predock.

    Gehry is Canadian and Predock is from New Mexico so the Yank beat out the Canuck. Predock’s group also designed the fabulous but tragically named Petco Park in San Diego.

    Absolutely brilliant. Reason enough to visit Winnipeg someday. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Bizrow says:

    And I will say the BMTIB, to me anyways, picked it up a notch in “dumpster diving” this off season, some of their off season pickups are much more intrieging and have more upside than what they’ve picked up in the past.

    Just sayin, on the surface, it appears they are a little bit more interested in winning this year.

  21. JosePagan says:

    I’ll take up the cudgels for being annoyed with the comments. I can’t speak for the others, but while I appreciate that the PBC is in business to make money, then certainly they are going to issue upbeat statements at the Dawn of a New Season.

    What annoys me is that over time, they have not backed these statements up with observable and quantifiable actions. The top leadership in each department is staffed with people who have little or no experience. Off season signings are not of the “impact” variety. Trades and other acquisitions are typically players who had Flashes of Competence interspersing careers of below-mediocre performance.

    The comments made by Nutting, Neal, et al really tickle the contents of my colon. And, since they ARE making them publicly then I, as a person they are directing them to (i.e. fan/potential ticket buyer/TV viewer) reserve the right to respond to same.

    And so I did since I had the time and opportunity to do so today.


  22. Drew71 says:

    I will GIVE you the right. Both because you certainly have the right, as well as for the best turn of phrase that I have seen on here in a month of Sundays…

    “tickle the contents of my colon”

  23. JosePagan says:

    In point of reference, while most, if not all owners say something like this every year, most, if not all are NOT riding 20 year streaks of losing seasons.

    The disingenuousness of this particular owner’s comments is particularly striking, therefore, and deserves to be called out.


  24. Drew71 says:

    in late July. When it breaks 30.

  25. JosePagan says:

    Appreciate the turn-of-phrase comment, Drew.

    I did not know anyone was in charge of giving out “rights” here though…


  26. poz says:

    Thanks Mr K for the great article. I reviewed the play many times and don’t see it as anything but horribly bad luck.

    The Sens would have you believe that once a player has a reputation there is no change of rehabilitation. The player is automatically and forever guilty when involved in a collision in a sport where collisions are routine.

    You are right. Have the courage to specifically state what is on our mind – or shut up.

  27. Drew71 says:

    To be honest, I thought LAST season’s acquisitions were more intriguing.

    – AJ had be honestly busting. And they gave up nothing (really) but $
    – Bedard, though it eventually failed, was intriguing, with upside
    – Even Barmes, an acquisition i did NOT like, was listed by many in MLB as the third best of available free agent SSs…and they had no chance with the top two (remember a guy named Reyes?) I would have preferred a trade rather than FA for a guy that I thought couldn’t hit outside of Colorado.

    But still. I thought that was a more intriguing lineup.

    This season?

    – Liriano is sorta Bedard. Same upside. Same risk. More money. And more importantly, no AJ to make it a good second-fiddle pickup.
    – Grilli and Karstens, though good moves, don’t count in this context as they are not additions.
    – Inge, who I like because i like HIM, may be finished. And he is a backup.
    – Russell Martin is a more expensive Overbay type of Huntington acquisition. Offensive numbers tumbling year after year after year. Coming off (sigh) five consecutive years of season-over-season reductions in offensive numbers. Is it an upgrade? Yes. Barely. Is it intriguing? I hope it turns OUT that way, but frankly I am not intrigued.

  28. Nate83 says:

    Agree. This is the first time in over a decade I have looked at the team coming into the year and saw a team capable of finishing .500. Even last year I thought .500 would require some career years and few injuries. I believe that alone would be considered improvement and make Nuttings comments feel a little more sincere.

  29. Bizrow says:

    I think AJ just fell in our laps. Yankees desperately wanted to move him and AJ wanted to stay close to his home in Maryland.

    If I remember correctly, it was between the PBC and a team on the left coast for AJ’s services

    But I did forget about AJ when I said what I said

  30. Drew71 says:

    Traveling back to Cocoa Beach. As is my right.

    Will try to check in this evening to discuss our unnamed teams.

    Oh. And let me be the first to wish Lucky a very Happy Presidents Day.

  31. Pat4PGH says:


    Wish I could agree with your vision….but I struggle with ending the streak this year.

    AJ will be hard pressed to repeat his performance last year.
    Wandy is NOT a #2 and is a 0.500 pitcher at best.
    JMac is JMac, hope for last years 1st haf, but prepare for the other guy.

    Jones had a career year as did Cutch, will they both repeat….
    Pedro could hit 30 again, but more than that is unlikely
    Martin cannot hit anymore
    Barmes is not as good most fans seem to think he is either defensively or offensively.
    The bench is still minor league at best.

    I see a 75 win season, but hope, as always, for something more!

  32. Pat4PGH says:


    Enjoyed your observations yesterday more than you know. Looking forward to todays update.

    Thanks so much for sharing them…..

  33. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thanks, Drew. We don’t even get the day off. Emoticon omitted for Drew.

  34. Eric Bowser says:

    Despres scratched, Bortuzzo in.

    Fleury vs Miller

  35. Drew71 says:

    That comes as a surprise to me, Abe.

    Pat, my only updates today will be of Disney weekend traffic and the western half of the I-4 corridor.

  36. Drew71 says:

    But I’m also surprised by Ohio State.

    I had figured Oral Roberts. Or Kentucky.

    You know. Heaven or Hell.

  37. Pat4PGH says:

    Misread your post….. Enjoy your day! It is about 20F in the Burgh now and tonight we’ll be near 15F. Heat wave tomorrow near 40……

    Yes, I am envious of your weather.

  38. Nate83 says:

    I don’t think they are a lock for 82 wins by any means. I just see it as more feasible then at any other time in the last 10 years. I actually predicting 78 wins.

  39. Thundercrack says:

    His comments didn’t strike me as disingenuous because I think he believes them.

    He (and other owners) will continue to make these types of comments before/after season and fans will continue to call them out and criticize them. That is the right of every fan. ( I don’t know who bestowed that right upon them, my guess it happened before Drew was even around).

    But the after re-reading the article the thing that struck me was:
    1) The Headline: Pirates’ Nutting: Playoffs or bust in 2013
    That’s something that fans will remember

    2) The first sentence in the first paragraph “My expectation is the same as everyone within our organization, and that is winning our division and competing for our sixth World Series championship,”

    3) His response to his question about the security of the FO and Hurdle “I see the very real and tangible progress that has been made. My expectation is that this progress will continue in 2013.”

    So is that standard ‘owner speak’? Is he covering all his bases, which he may be doing? If they progress to a season that has them finishing with 85 wins but out of the playoffs, what happens then to the FO?

  40. LuckyNKentucky says:

    My daughter went to Oral Roberts for 1 semester. Wouldn’t recommend it. Sorry to any alum I may offend by that remark.

    No KY. I’m from Ohio, not KY. Just live here. No SEC.

    OSU logo is more colorful than Abe’s face.

  41. 21sthebest says:

    I wonder what message people think Nutting should send to the players. How about:

    “Don’t think you’ll make the playoffs!”

  42. Drew71 says:

    Cheese. A serious reply.

    SOMEbody has forgotten who eye yam.

  43. Bizrow says:

    Don’t encourage Drew to talk about the weather (emoticon respectfully omitted)

  44. LuckyNKentucky says:


  45. JosePagan says:

    It is just words from Mr Nutting. That is the problem. The two of you can nitpick all you want about what he is SUPPOSED to say. Obviously by any rational standard he is expected to say something upbeat.

    My issue is that his actions speak more loudly than the words and his actions do not measure up to what he is saying.


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