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Wednesday Wakeup Call: What to do with 92?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> The Wednesday column looks at all the tough calls the Steelers have to make in the next couple weeks … and concludes that there really aren’t any at all.

I’ll ask you right here: Are you in favor of cutting James Harrison for the cap space?

Don’t pull any punches here, either. My own feeling on this is expressed in the column, but I’d like to hear from you. And bear in mind, team considerations have to be weighed, too.

>> I’ll be on NFL Network live at 6 a.m. — the ‘NFL AM’ show — to discuss the column. Wait till those people get a load of me on about two hours of sleep.

Here’s yesterday’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast, featuring special guest Paul Chryst of Pitt football. And here’s video of the monologue on the Penguins’ professional reaction to the Evgeni Malkin hit …

>> Terribly undisiciplined effort by the Penguins last night in Sunrise. Rob Rossi reports.

Talk all you want about Tomas Vokoun, but any team that takes four — four! — offensive-zone penalties by forwards is begging to lose that game.

>> The NHL’s latest realignment plan is out, and I like it better than the others I’ve seen. From a Pittsburgh perspective, once I see Penguins and Flyers in the same division, then add in the Capitals and all the New York teams, I have no issue.

>> Pitt’s got South Florida at home tonight and, man, could they use some buckets. I’m hoping to make it out to the Pete to catch that, in advance of leaving tomorrow for Bradenton.

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. Pittsburgher in Winnipeg says:

    Is it just me or does it seem blatantly idiotic to realign a league by making a conference with 14 teams and one with 16?

    I see some of the reasoning, but each year six teams in the West will be out of the playoffs and eight teams in the East. I think some team has to bite the bullet and play in the Central time zone. Colorado is alone in their division playing Mountain time. Detroit has been playing mostly out of their time zone for a while. I’m sure their fans are used to it by now. Keep them with some good rivals in the Midwest and split the conferences even. Then you could put Colorado out west with Edmonton, Phoenix and Calgary in their time zone.

    I love the Pens’ division.

    DK: The goal is to add two teams, so it won’t be done even when it’s done.

  2. Ghost says:

    I agree with every single position you take. I hope we’re are wrong and that the Steelers don’t three-peat the mistake of not retaining Max Starks, but history tells us they will.
    A little bit down the priority list of decisions, Charlie Batch should be kept for one more season. Byron Leftwich should be thanked kindly and then bid adieu. However, though Batch has some naysayers on this blog, I’m convinced he is the right man for one more season. It IS time for the Steelers to acquire their next ‘Charlie Batch,’ whether by drafting someone in a mid-round or picking up a free agent. But we still need Charlie, himself, until this transition is complete. Because Ben is Ben and he will surely miss a game or two next season.

  3. Luiz Mello says:

    This realignment proposal is surely an improvement over the last one, including the 2 conferences with 2 divisions each part – as opposed to the weird 4-conference thing they had going before.

    What I don’t like is the divisional playoff structure, which makes for less opponent diversity than the current conference system. Less diversity = less fun.

    And they even felt the need to introduce the wild card concept to make things fairer, which means that it isn’t really a “pure” divisional playoff. So why don’t just keep this part as it is today?

  4. Ed says:

    I don’t see how Detroit could be happy losing their long time rivals. Keep them in the Midwest and bring Nashville to the Central with Florida and Tampa.

    Add two teams? Not everyone in the league is doing well now. Really would hate to see the NHL get overextended for the sake of even team conferences. I’m sure an 8-7-8-7 format would work out. Even Sidney would like it ;)

  5. Drew71 says:

    After all the other days, wouldn’t it be funny if this is the one day Dejan DOESN’T put up the pitt-South Florida thread?

  6. John Lease says:

    Getting rid of Harrison would be a big mistake for this offseason. He was definitely coming around. Now, if he gets hurt again next year, then he may be done. But he’s way too good to jettison this quickly.

    Also, the floating of Tabata back to the Yankees was odd. Not as odd as Tabata removing his Clemente tattoo, but still odd.

  7. Jandy says:

    Is it Spring yet?


  8. Jandy says:

    Heck yeah, Milo, you’ll be making right turns on a Nascar track if THAT happens!

  9. Jandy says:

    OK and I just called Drew, “Milo”, I need to go back into hibernation.

  10. Luiz Mello says:

    I have read more than one report in the past about Detroit supposedly wanting a move to the East, so I’m not sure they’d be unhappy about this one.

    They were separated from Chicago, also Saint Louis, but who else will they really miss? But they got Toronto, Montreal, Boston. Also more frequent matches against the likes of Pittsburgh and New York R. Not so bad a trade, I’d say. Plus, their travel distances/time zones have been reduced a lot.

    Good point about Nashville, though. One would have to think they’d be leading candidates for a Eastern move should a franchise be relocated to, or created in, say, Seattle.

  11. JAL says:

    JAL’s Wuthering Heights 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

    Could Tyler Glasnow Be As Good As Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon?

    First Pitch: All of the New International Player Profiles

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Poll: How excited are you about the 2013 season?

    7 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Monday notes: Bucs drop first game


    On the whole, though, the Pirates are a pretty good franchise

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Fifth Starter Power Rankings

    Pirates Kyle McPherson Had A Serious Focused Stare Going On Today

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucs Drop First 5-4

  12. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Spring training | Pittsburgh kid Neil Walker back on the field for Pirates

    Read more here:

    12 WTAE

    Father, daughter get banned from PNC Park for fight during Pirates game

    13 KDKA

    Kent Tekulve’s Early Impressions Of Spring Training

    14 Sarasota Herald Tribune

    Grilli ready to transform into Pirates’ closer

    15 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Matheny: No place for collisions at plate

    16 USA Today

    Justin Morneau drops some ‘eh’ bombs on Russell Martin

    17 ESPN

    NFL has more parity than MLB? Hah!

    18 PBC SITE

    Inge hopes Pirates can channel spirit of ’06 Tigers

    Martin day to day with soreness in upper body


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Grapefruit League Journal: Pittsburgh Pirates

    20 Fangraphs

    Where ZIPS and Steamer Disagree

  13. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers close to restructures with Roethlisberger and Timmons

    Examining the zone run game and how it might work for the Steelers – Part I

    22 Steelers Depot

    -You Shouldn’t Expect Roethlisberger To Do Next Offseason What Brady Did This Offseason


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Are Gareth Bale’s Tottenham a one man team? He would not be the first to make a team game a solo pursuit.….html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 26th February, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Apparently there was free money in the sin bin: Panthers 6, Penguins 4


    Realignment would mean 4 divisions

  14. JAL says:

    Wuthering Heights Kate Bush 1978. Went to number 1 in the UK Has been covered by many artists, including Pat Benatar and the Decemberists.

  15. Drew71 says:

    That’s alright.

    My wife will take the trade, sight unseen.

  16. JAL says:

    It might be OK to you but what about Milo?

  17. Drew71 says:

    I see your point.

    I wouldn’t want to be stuck with her, either.


  18. Jandy says:

    Yeah Ed, add two more teams, and how watered down will things be?

  19. Dave G says:

    So an NHL team could finish 5th in their division, make the playoffs as a wild card team, get seeded vrs the number one team in the other division, and then play for the opposite division’s title.

    Yeah. That makes sense.

  20. Drew71 says:

    ‘Til death do you part.”

    No wonder people cry at weddings.

  21. SJB says:

    The only thing making it a mistake is the fact they have no one to fill his spot. Same goes for just about every player on the team. They lack depth up and down the roster…unless you consider all of it they have at mediocre RB’s

  22. Drew71 says:

    75 and sunny.


  23. Jandy says:

    no way…seriously?

  24. Jandy says:

    Drew, dahling, bite me!

  25. Drew71 says:

    That would make it a glorious day on every level

  26. Luiz Mello says:

    Precisely one of my two pet peeves about the unnecessary format switch to divisional playoffs.

  27. RBilak says:

    Again the trend of poor penalties continues. The maddening part is there appears zero fix for it. Never have I seen a team take a bad penalty then seconds later take another to make it 5 on 3. This is a long standing trend that needs addressed now. It will be their downfall in playoffs.

    What do they have in a backup? He looks like MAF vs Flyers last year.

    Shero may want to focus on obtaining more penalty killers instead of anything else since they cannot fix taking stupid penalties.

    Glad Eaton will not take time away from rookie D. I like Bortuzzo a lot. He brings a toughness needed in playoff hockey that is lacking on this team.

    Keep Harrison, I think they know they have nothing behind him and Woodley is as frustrating as the Pens taking penalties. If Lewis is signed, then you once again have zero playmakers in secondary again. Allen had big plays in two games, more than the rest of secondary combined. He must play to turn things around. I would love Starks back. Much more valuable than Colon and Gilbert is hurt as much as any player I have ever seen.

  28. Drew71 says:

    I haven’t looked, but is it structured like the NCAA tournament in which an upset winner takes the seeding position of the team it beats?

  29. leefoo says:

    DK…completely agree with everything you wrote about the Steelers’ cap issues.

    When you’re not talking about the Pirates, it’s amazing how much I like your writing. :)

    Black n Gold Foo


  30. leefoo says:


    Drew….I hope your air conditioner breaks in August.


  31. SJB says:

    Yeah, what’s next, have everyone make the playoffs and have it divided into heats and elimination rounds like the Olympics? Thanks Atlanta, this probably wouldn’t even be a discussion if the Thrashers don’t move.

    I still remember 1988, where the top four team of each division made the playoffs instead of the top 8 of the conference and the Rangers and Penguins missed with 82 and 81 points (respectively) in the Prince of Wales Conference but Toronto made it with only 57 in the Campbell. Actually, seeing as how poor the Campbell Conference was back then, it’s no wonder Edmonton and Gretzky did so well. Only Detroit, Calgary and Edmonton had winning records of the 8 teams to make the playoffs from the entire Campbell Conference that season and every team (6) in the Patrick division alone, had winning records including the Rangers and Penguins.

  32. Jandy says:

    FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  33. Jandy says:

    lol i shoulda saw that coming.

  34. Jandy says:

    leefoo says:

    February 27, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Drew….I hope your air conditioner breaks in August.


  35. Jandy says:

    Wel, as the inimitable @suckmeter would say:

    That sucks!

  36. SJB says:

    That’s what it sounds like to me. So, the lowest seed upsets top seed in the first round (and we all know that doesn’t ever happen, right?) and now the worst team gets home ice advantage? I know; instead of calling it The Stanley Cup Playoffs, why not just call it The Lord Stanley Clusterphuck?

  37. kr70 says:

    get a room… lets keep this blog for sports

  38. Drew71 says:

    I’d have to jump in the water until the repairman arrives.

    On my floatie with the beer holder.

  39. gregenstein says:

    Yeah, I have to agree that I’m not a fan of the divisional playoffs. I don’t have a problem with how they are selecting the teams for the playoffs, but trying to do divisional playoffs with wildcards is actually worse. It actually likely will reward the 5th best team in the division.

    Assuming both wild cards come from the same division (which I think is likely to occur more often than not), how do you handle which wild card team stays to play in the obviously tougher division and which goes to the weaker one? Why is it fair for the 3 teams who guaranteed themselves slots to have to stay in the tougher division?

    They could go with something like baseball does, where there’s basically a play-in game/wild card round. You double the number of wild card teams and have them go at it in a “Game 7″ environment. Then at least the incentive is there to avoid tanking just enough at the end of the season to lower your seeding and play the other division.

  40. Patrick says:

    From a fans perspective it would suck, unless you happen to be the team that has Sid AND Geno and everyone else has ONE player about half as good. Imagine how hard it is selling tickets in Calgary and Nashville right now.

    Players love it because its more jobs. Owners like it because its more revenue sources. Whether the product suffers as a consequence is not something they worry about a whole lot. If they worried about the quality of the product it wouldn’t take 20 years to figure out what exactly obstruction is, or what is or isn’t boarding.

    Its not if, but when and where 2 new teams get added.

  41. JMB says:

    I definitely want to keep #92.

  42. JAL says:

    Hmmm The headline is what to do about 92 but the picture is 23 (Lewis)

  43. Luiz Mello says:

    How would you feel about keeping the current system for the new realignment? Each division champion would have a guaranteed playoff spot, then the 6 best other teams in the conference would qualify according to their records.

    Looks way fairer to me.

    The only question would be whether to keep awarding a top seeding to the division champions, which could lead to a 2nd seed with a really poor record (as it usually happen today with the 3rd seed). But it would just be one team, so perhaps this is a small price to pay in exchange for rewarding division champs.

    I also hope that they regular season division leaders keep being officially considered the division champions. That a wild card team from division A may end up winning the division B playoffs is awkward to say the least.

  44. Jandy says:

    Doesn’t mean anyone has to like it.

  45. Patrick says:

    I want to keep the 2010 James Harrison. I don’t know about the 2012 James Harrison, and logic dictates the 2013 version will be worse, not better, than the 2012 James Harrison.

  46. Patrick says:

    This is very true. I still haven’t heard a good reason as to why simply switching Nashville and Winnipeg is such bad idea. Beyond the silliness that is having Winnipeg in the Southeast division, what is it about the current format that is just SOOOoooo terrible?

  47. Arriba Wilver says:

    Not sure I follow that “logic” in this instance. He was injured and got better as the year went on. Which 2012 James Harrison?

    I agree with JMB, and also DK’s final point about working something out.

  48. Arriba Wilver says:

    Is it true the players have tuned out Bylsma, or was that just an overreaction to last night?

  49. Luiz Mello says:

    Nothing too terrible about the current format, but I understand the Western teams’ complaints about longer travel, different time zones leading to awkward TV broadcast hours etc. So why not take the opportunity to do some more tweaking?

    It’s the playoff system change I don’t get at all. The current system is sharp, why mess with it?

  50. Patrick says:

    You know…after the horrific showing they gave last night I am honestly shocked how little puck talk their is this morning. I wasnt the only one who watched the Pens get their PK blown apart by one of the leagues worst PP teams was I?

    Or who saw Vokoun chased?

    Or who saw one stupid offensive zone penalty after another?

  51. dwf says:

    I think we are starting to see a pattern develop here

  52. Milo Hamilton says:

    So I hear I’m gonna be on “Wife Swap”.

  53. Patrick says:

    I’ll admit…at times it has occurred to me. This continued lack of discipline certainly suggests that could be the case. 80 times shorthanded is among the league leaders.They could get away with that two years ago when they had the top PK at 86%….but when its 78% they need to keep their sticks off of peoples hands and hips.

  54. dwf says:

    Uh oh…it appears that there are some cracks starting to form in the The Great Ray Shero’s decision to sign Vokun. Two horrible games and suddenly he can’t even stop a beach ball! The defense, for a lack of a better term, isn’t playing much better. I smell another early playoff exit.

  55. Jandy says:

    Becareful Milo, you’ll be asked to get a room, too ;)

  56. JohninOshkosh says:

    Gee, last time I looked the Pens were leading the Atlantic and one point shy of the Habs for most points in the East. Sometimes a team loses a game and, sometimes, it’s a bad loss. I look at a team like the Hawks, who are very fun to watch right now and are playing every game like they are the underdogs, and wonder how much they will have left come May.

  57. Jandy says:

    Luiz nailed it.

  58. 21sthebest says:

    Kind of seems like they could use about 4-6 weeks of Michel Therrien.

  59. Arriba Wilver says:


  60. Jandy says:

    OshKosh, you’re right, of course, but man, that was a smelly effort last night. It was just B.A.D. all around.

  61. Jandy says:

    They sure need something, 21. I thought last night’s game would bring fewer dumb penalties, as Geno is out…but it brought waaaayyyy more….go figure.
    But then, what do I know?

    AW, after last night’s effort, one has to wonder if that is the case, and if it is, what will happen next?

  62. Jandy says:

    And where the heck is Spunky, anyway????
    he get a room, too?

  63. Arriba Wilver says:

    If it IS the case, I have no doubt, from Hockey history, what will happen next. And I’m not even a puckhead.

  64. Milo Hamilton says:

    Thanks for the warning, I don’t want to get on the wrong side of the blog police.

  65. dwf says:


    When will people start to realize that points in the regular season are not that important. Other than playoff seeding, which isn’t that critical (read LA Kings last year), the Pens are perfect examples of this. The last three years they finished with over 100 points and…well you know what happened!

  66. I thought that was an unnecessary insult to you and Drew.


  67. Jandy says:

    God forbid!

  68. Milo Hamilton says:


  69. Jandy says:

    LOL Spunkster…some people like to wiz in others’ Cheerios.
    I was just genuinely wondering where you were.
    All ok in the land of kentucky?

  70. NMR says:

    This is the one thing, at least in theory, that I can’t stand about hockey players.

    You don’t need your coach to tell you that it’s probably not a smart idea to take dumb penalties in the offensive zone.

    I’m sick of hearing about teams “tuning out” their coach. Grow up already!

  71. Jandy says:

    You’re right. I like DB, but this trend continues,m things could change in a hurry.

  72. Like Jack Nicholson said, “As good as it gets”.

  73. Patrick says:

    You don’t see 36 year old players return to form after two years of nagging injuries. Its not impossible, just unlikely.

    And yes, JH was better the second half of the season, but it wasn’t great. He had 5 sacks and two FF in his last 8 games. Again, that’s good….but would you as a GM feel confident that a 36 yo with a history of back problems is going to get better, stay the same or decline?

    But let me say that I do think he should and will be back, but mostly because, like DK said, there is absolutely nobody behind him.

  74. Jandy says:

    “You’re a disgrace to depression”


  75. NMR says:

    Funny how the game works, isn’t it? Players decide to quit doing things they’ve been taught since Squirts and so the team fires the coach.

    Makes sense.

  76. NMR says:

    Hey Brad – you’re buddy Singer served one up for you today:

    “Starling Marte is not only the one to watch, you won’t be able to take your eyes off him. The Pirates have brought him along perfectly, and he is about to blow it up. Yeah, Mike Trout-esque.”

    That really happened.

  77. Now, let’s keep this blog to sports.


  78. Arriba Wilver says:

    Lucky–I may have asked you before, but do you watch Justified? I know Naje is a fan. One of the best shows on.

  79. Jandy says:

    I loved that movie lol.

  80. Jandy says:

    No way, SPunky

  81. Patrick says:

    For crying out loud…

    It wasnt meant to be mean spirited or condescending. it was a joke. It was some light hearted sarcasm….geez.

    I forgot the :P;)

  82. Jandy says:

    Well, it may not be right, but you can’t fire the whole team. It stinks, actually.

  83. Jandy says:

    Yeah, and earn your (insert adjective) contracts.

  84. Jandy says:

    Yeah, and I’m Mother Theresa!

    (emoticon omitted just because)

  85. Arriba Wilver says:

    The “save our jobs” train is running full speed.

  86. Arriba Wilver says:


  87. No, I’ve never seen it AW. We watch stuff like Psych, White Collar, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Chopped (not my choice), etc.

    And sports.

  88. Milo Hamilton says:

    Does that mean he got fat ?

  89. “How do you write women so well?” I loved his answer for that. No offense.

  90. Patrick says:

    Thats actually one of the more….unsavory things about hockey. You will see players band together and demand their coach be fired. Scotty Bowman is the greatest coach in Hockey and he only lasted 2 seasons in Pittsburgh. It has happened when professional athletes have ‘quit’ on a coach they dont like.

    Look at last years St Louis Blues. Started 6-7, fired their coach and then went 43-15 the rest of the year and tied for second in the league with 109 points. AMAZING!

  91. NMR says:


    Mike Trout’s neck has disappeared. If that’s all muscle, then the Steelers have found their replacement for James Harrison.

  92. Arriba Wilver says:

    He will be 35 this coming season, and he improved not just second half to first half, but every single game he played. That’s what I find hard to pigeonhole. No, I don’t expect he will be as good as the 2010 version, but I’d still keep him based on last year.

  93. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve always felt that coaches are often sacrificial lambs.

  94. Sarah says:

    I have coached Squirts with better discipline.

  95. Naje says:

    Lucky…. Tuesday nights. Great show; a little violent at times, but the issues are current problems that the eastern part of the state faces. From mountaintop removal, to the oxy trade to the pot biz, some nefarious characters but great drama. The second season in particular was about as good as it gets for a tv drama.

  96. 21sthebest says:

    I wish you hadn’t said that. I had Cheerios this morning.

  97. NMR says:

    Completely agree with both of you.

    Bylsma will land on his feet. Hockey coaches get recycled more than a water bottle in California.

    Let’s just hope the move has more of a Blues effect than a Capitals effect. Yikes.

  98. Milo Hamilton says:

    Having been there myself, that “rubber chicken circuit” is a killer.

  99. Thanks. I’ll have to check that out.

  100. Arriba Wilver says:

    Takes place in Kentucky. Very violent. And the fastest one hour show I watch. Seems like it goes by in 15 minutes.

  101. Patrick says:

    Yes. I meant it seriously. Because I’ve never made any jokes or been sarcastic. Because I’m always just so mean to people.

    Look if you think it was meant to be a insult or reprimand or whatever… then I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. My goodness…

  102. Sarah says:

    You’re right Osh – but come playoff time discipline and consistency count for much more, and the Pens are severely lacking in that dept.

    They’re getting their points from some superior O talent, and riding some superior Gtending from MAF.

    Down the stretch last year they were racking up points, but if you looked closely, they gave up tons of bad chances and MAF had to pull rabbits out of his arse 4-6 times a night. Which wore him down.

    Meanwhile in NJ, behind a very tightly disciplined group, Grandpa Brodeur stopped 18 outside shots a night.

    Discipline matters. Talent hides lack of same.

  103. Needless to say, it’s not like other shows that take place in KY like Turtle Man.

    (Actually called “Call of the Wild Man”).

    Hilarious show.

    Justified seems like it could take place about anywhere in KY, not just the eastern part of the state.

  104. Everybody likes you, Patrick.



  105. Jandy says:

    Reason and accountability?

  106. Jandy says:

    LOL! Sorry, friend ;)

  107. Jandy says:


  108. NMR says:

    I’m not a betting man, but if I were, my money would be on Marte as the team most disappointing player this season.

    I think people are expecting way, way too much out of him. I’m thinking of the people who claimed the plate discipline issues that hept him down, and followed him to the show, was a bunch of hooey.

    The news this year is that the team is working on his patience. This must be groundhog day, because that is exactly what they were saying last year.

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Travis Snider ends up with a higher OPS.

  109. Jandy says:

    ha! There’s that hooey word again ;)

  110. CWalton_67 says:

    I generally agree here. And I doubt that this team is intentionally “tuning out” Bylsma, but leaders can become stale, and fail to see continued need for evolution. Always been a big fan of HCDB, but I think it may be time to give Tony Granato a chance.

  111. Jandy says:

    or Phat?

  112. Milo Hamilton says:

    My grandfather loved the word hooey. This counts as a sports post because I used to watch games with him.

  113. Drew71 says:

    Milo. If we swap? You lose.

  114. That’s the line. Funny.

  115. NMR says:

    I couldn’t help myself. I expect no less than three hooey references in the Friday column.

  116. Patrick says:

    I wonder if to much talent is the reason for the lack of discipline to be honest. I said it the other day, but if you are looking for silver linings in Geno injury that might be it. Geno was one of the worst offenders for “bad penalties”. Maybe with that loss i skill they will start playing more focused hockey because they simply wont be able to out skate, out shoot, and out score opponents while he is gone.

    Maybe they will will start playing playoff hockey NOW rather than when they are already down 3-1 in the first round.

  117. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yes, the “notes” column. What’s next, “columnettes” ?

  118. gregenstein says:

    That would be fine by me. Even doing something like the 2 wild cards are automatically teams 7 and 8, and thus play the division winners, would be fine.

    Maybe even have a playoff lottery for the non-division winning automatic qualifiers in each division to determine who plays who, team with the better record getting home ice. You could even have it weighted and use ping pong balls and the whole thing. Maybe even have home ice be part of the lottery, where the better teams get more ping pong balls.

    I’m not overly concerned about a #2 seed being weak. It’s pretty rare right now for the #2 seed to unworthy of home ice in the 1st round. I think back to when baseball had 2 divisions, and there were occasions where the other division winner was not as good record wise as the 2nd best team in the tougher division, but rarely did it go beyond that. So, at worst you are rewarding the 4th best team in the conference with home ice and a match against the 4th best team in the tough division. Sounds like the current 3-6 pairing, which often favors the 6th seed anyway.

  119. This is an honest Q, because I don’t know the answer, but, do you ‘uns think there will truly be a move?

    I thought Bylsma was Mario’s boy. If so, he’ll sink or swim with him, right?

  120. Arriba Wilver says:

    Relax, Patrick, like other things, it will play its course.


  121. like

    And sermonettes.

  122. dwf says:

    I can’t believe this…an objective fan!!!!!!! Finally, someone else that realizes that ONE can be a FAN and also bring up negative/obvious things. Sarah, I wish more of the people that post on this site would read your entries!

  123. Arriba Wilver says:

    At least from my perspective, if Bylsma is tuned out he’s done. And Mario was one of the main “tuner outers” with Scotty Bowman. Bylsma doesn’t get “tuned out” unless Sid tunes him out, which I think is really the question.

  124. gregenstein says:

    Agreed. Marte is a nice player, whom I believe will have a sub par year offensively, but will get plenty of playing time because he can handle the spacious LF here. I actually think he’ll start losing playing time to Tabata by Memorial Day.

  125. Sarah says:

    Well I can be as irrational as any fan at times LOL!!! They made me crazy last night!

    But dwf is spot-on that talent and discipline are often in opposition…the more talented players grow up having stuff handed to them, don’t have to work as hard….while the less talented kids break your heart with their work effort and discipline cos it’s the only way they can get by.

    Anyway dunno – they were a darn disciplined group behind Therrian (who I hated BTW!) weren’t they? Malkin was in that mix too.

    For whatever reason the coaching staff is not getting through to them on this subject.

    And really – this season may be their last chance to do so.

  126. Arriba Wilver says:

    Naje–I think I figured out last night who “Drew” on the show is.

  127. Jandy says:

    AW said it “succinctly”

  128. Jandy says:

    Milo hates to lose.

  129. Jandy says:

    yup I admit it lol

  130. JohninOshkosh says:

    Who in the East impresses you, Sarah or dwf? Every team has issues. I’m not sold on the team du jour, Canadiens. Therefore, points are important because seeding will be important. A lot of flawed teams that I would rather play with home ice advantage.

  131. Jandy says:

    always does. I can’t stay mad at anyone lol.

    Patrick is a good hockey poster, anyway….he has good info. ;)

  132. I see.

    Yes, he did J-girl.

  133. JohninOshkosh says:

    Phone it in Fridays! :)

  134. Jandy says:


  135. Jandy says:

    and anyway…where’s kr70 in all this hooey?

  136. Sarah says:

    Well – not like I watch a ton besides Pens – but – Montreal, Boston, NJ. All solid.
    Like to see how far Rask can take the Bs.
    Price has collapsed in the playoffs before….
    And NJ as always – is NJ.

    In fact I dont think the Pens match up that bad v Habs or Bs. Heaven forbid we get PHL or NJ though.

  137. Sarah says:

    Oh and dwf – you made me blush LOL!

    Decades of goaltending has made me analytical. :-D

  138. Someone wake Brad and Thunder. We’ll soon have a lineup to bash.

  139. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    lol Thanks, NMR. Been busy making first exam, so haven’t had a chance to read the links yet.

    Just wow. I hope he’s right, really do. Don’t agree on the perfect along-bringing yet. Not real sure how anyone can even make that judgement accurately at this point (unless you’re the venerable Tom ‘I write from somewhere between Delusionville and What-the-deuce Town’ Singer). Guess it depends of one’s definition of “blowing up”. The whole team blew up last year and not in a good way.

    Singer’s general agenda seems when writing seems to be if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, call it a Peregrine Falcon.

  140. JohninOshkosh says:

    My wife is totally in love with Timothy Olyphant. Can’t watch the show without getting jealous.

    Oh, this is a sports post. Olyphant starred alongside the lovely Canadian actress, Elisha Cuthbert, in “The Girl Next Door.” Cuthbert formerly dated Sean Avery and is engaged to Dion Phaneuf.


  141. 21sthebest says:

    Starling Marte LF
    Neil Walker 2B
    Andrew McCutchen CF
    Pedro Alvarez 3B
    Garrett Jones 1B
    Gaby Sanchez DH
    Brad Hawpe RF
    Michael McKenry C
    Clint Barmes SS

  142. Jandy says:

    Timothy Olyphant is sexy and Phaneuf would look great in a Pen’s uni
    Sports post ;)

  143. Luiz Mello says:

    This. But I also feel that HCDB is young enough, and smart enough, to adapt and improve. He may or may not have the tools to improve, but I’d like to think he’s learning with the past playoff failures.

    Also, there’s room for roster improvement. This team has benefited in the past from veteran leadership (think Gonchar, Guerin, Roberts). This element could be lacking in the current build.

  144. Jandy says:

    Sarah is a great hockey mind. And her posts during the games are great too. Nice to have another female in here :)

  145. NMR says:

    Haha, I get a kick out of him.

    I get his position. I get his audience. But man, sometimes you gotta tone it down a bit.

  146. Naterosboro says:

    Sporting thoughts on a Wednesday (yea, that’s all I got today)….

    * I do not want to cut James Harrison. Even at 35, there still aren’t too many that can rush the passer the way he can when healthy.

    * I’m not sure why an NFL Franchise (or franchises for that matter) should be asking a potential draftee about his sexual preference. What does that have to do with playing football? What does that have to do with risk involved in drafting said player? This is not 1980……..

    * Tough loss for the penguino’s last night, but I like the fight they showed in getting the game back to 4-4 after going down 4-1. They’re also without Evgeni for some games, so they’ll need that fight and energy to keep winning games. That, and a better penalty kill….

    * Huberdeau…great name. Potential to be an even better player. I like a lot of what I see from this Florida rook. Apparently, so do a lot of people around the NHL. Does Jeffery Loria own the Panthers too?

    * Jose Tabata looks to be in much better shape, at least at the beginning of ST. Hopefully, that’ll carry over into staying healthy and performing better. If he can nail down RF (even tho he failed to do that last season and is now competing for 4th outfielder duty), things look better for the Buccos. I’m rooting for him.

    * Just one of those gut feelings, but I think Travis Snider is destined to be a AAAA player. I like his altered focus coming into ST this season tho. It’s 2013. A fresh start for all. Including Travis. Let’s hope he grabs this opportunity. If Tabata and him can seize the moment when it comes their way, the Pirates will have some of those “good problems”….

    * I think the Buccos need to let Starling Marte be Starling Marte. I understand where GM Huntington is coming from when saying the “odds are against” Marte being a good leadoff hitter with the free-swinging mentality, but I think until he shows he’s overmatched (which has been far from the case in his little cup of coffee so far), let him “swing for it”!


  147. Naterosboro says:

    That’s pretty close to what it’ll look like opening day, no? (barring injury and obvs. replace Hawpe w/ either Snider or Tabata and McKenry with Martin)

    O yea…NO DH EITHER! What is this…the American League?!

  148. Looks like they want to look long and hard at Hawpe.

  149. Good notes columnette, Nate.

  150. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t know what Hawpe has left but I’ve heard people like Larussa, Davey Johnson, and Bobby Cox talk about having veteran players come off the bench. I’ve never been a Harrison fan so I’d like to see a lot of Hawpe and Inge this spring.

  151. Sarah says:

    Sadly – for the last 3 playoff debacles, Pens are 5-9 on home ice.

    Additionally (need a stats hound here) I think under Bylsma, they are 0-fer in closing series at home.

    This says a lot.

  152. I like Harrison as a spark plug type and as a person, but I agree on the veteran stuff. I think Inge will make a big difference on this team.

  153. Naterosboro says:

    I’d just like 1 of these players (veteran bench guys) to have a nice productive season for us.

    NH has been short in that area in his tenure as GM. If you want to rehash that list of players, be my guest. I choose to forget about them (as their performances (for the most part) were forgettable…)

  154. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    While I like his name, who is this Hawpe guy? Haven’t been able to follow spring training as much this year and usually focus on hockey until April.

    I actually like Marte at leadoff as long as they aren’t trying to get too technical and focusing on walks and singles and small ball- from what I’ve seen he’s not much of a walker. Let him hit and go from there IMO.

  155. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s what I thought when it was put up yesterday, Nate, opening lineup, at least 1-5, and 9.

  156. 21sthebest says:

    Good stuff Nate but I’ll disagree a little on Marte. I think he needs to learn the strike zone better. The majors are light years different than AAA, IMO. I wasn’t disappointed with his numbers last year but the league didn’t really know him yet and still doesn’t very much.

    I’m not talking about him specifically here but I don’t think the so called sophomore jinxes are a coincidence. When the book is out on you, I think it tends to be exploited. Just imagine Marte if he does gain better knowledge of the pitches he can’t do anything with and learns to lay off of them. And one of the things I like about seeing how he does leading off for now is that maybe his mentality will be sharper about pitch selection rather than sticking him down around the 6th spot.

  157. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    The only one you can’t forget about is Casey McGehee. He caused collapse 2.0 so he is memorable. :-)

  158. 21sthebest says:

    I dislike his OBP enough so far that I’m hoping for better options.

  159. Arriba Wilver says:

    What NFL franchise is asking a potential draftee about his sexual preference? It wouldn’t be politically correct, but asking Teo about it would certainly have some impact on whether he was telling the truth about his “fake” girlfriend. Not advocating, just supplying a justification in a particular instance.

  160. JohninOshkosh says:

    A lot of good conversations going on today. Too bad I’m getting dizzy scrolling up and down to follow them.

  161. Jandy says:

    Stats hound would be Eric Bowser…

  162. You said a mouth full, brother.

    Had to take a break to catch up. (We get 2, so I’m not robbing the state).


  163. 21sthebest says:

    I’m going with the where there’s smoke there’s fire theorem with Te’o and I wouldn’t draft him every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And I’ll predict he doesn’t go in the first round.

  164. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m with you, 21 (and I could care less what his sexual preference is), in terms of drafting him, but I’ll bet he still goes in the first round.

  165. Iceman says:

    Crazy busy morning, but here are some thoughts about the Pens game yesterday:

    – PK needs fixed. PERIOD! This team needs to get more active on the PK and get after it. I think this is one of the biggest things lost with Staal. He was always out there with his long reach causing havoc for players passing from one point to the next. This just isn’t there right now.

    – Stay out of the sin bin. Stupid penalties are stupid and are certainly not making the PK any better. When you have the penalty killers on the ice all the time, they are destined to get tired and therefore the PK gets worse.

    – I blame alot of this loss on Letang. Watch the replay of Florida’s go ahead goal and see how far out of position he is. Did he just not realize that the PP was over or was he just that greedy and stupid. I know he is an offensive talent, but that is just way too far out of position.

    – Feel kinda bad for Vokun, because it’s not his fault the team was always on the PK, but he seemed a bit out of sorts. Watching him trip over the goal post was nerve racking.

    – I hate losing to bad teams. The Pens should feel the same way and get there act together.

  166. Naterosboro says:

    I guess I’m just of the view of Manny Sanguillen right now. Personally, I think too often in pro sports, coaches and GMs want to “fix” what isn’t “broken” b/c they see the potential for it to “break” down the line.

    Some guys just play the game in a complete unorthodox way. Hunter Pence comes to mind. Everything about him says he shouldn’t be playing major league baseball, yet he’s been here for a few years, and has been pretty successful.

    I’m not saying that Marte plays the game in an unorthodox way, but I guess his approach at the plate is, and I’d like for him to get a full chance to play “his” game, without management tinkering.

  167. NMR says:

    Marte being Marte didn’t go so hot last year. For that, I give you -1.

    For JEANMAR, I give you +10.

  168. NMR says:

    Who’s game was he playing last year when he struck out 30% of the time?

  169. Naterosboro says:

    There were reports of teams at the Combine asking Manti Teo if he was gay. I just don’t see how that should ever enter the conversation.

    If they wanted to know more about the “fake girlfriend” scandal, then ask questions related to that.

  170. Patrick says:

    Actually there are reports that teams are asking these questions as part of theirinterview process for lots of kids, not just Te’o.

    Not to shamelessly self promote either..but..i may have written about this very topic….somewhere else though.

  171. 21sthebest says:

    I just think that Marte needs refined for the majors or he’ll be overmatched if he doesn’t learn that he can’t hit everything. As to Hunter Pence, I think he looks unorthodox but I don’t think he plays in an unorthodox way. He gets on base although that fell off last year but he still did drive in runs at a good clip for the Giants.

  172. 21sthebest says:

    Care to make it interesting?

  173. BenderHeel says:

    I find it funny that Boston and Florida – in venues actually on the Atlantic – are in the Central, while Pittsburgh and Columbus are in the Central.

    Nonetheless, those alignments look good for the Pens and its historic rivalries.

  174. NMR says:

    Yeah, I think we’re talking about two very different things here.

    Pence is unorthodox in his movements, but not in his approach.

    Marte has a picturesque swing, but flails at anything close to the plate.

    He’s just not going to get any better unless that changes. Major league pitchers aren’t going to make the same mistakes he feasted on in the minors. It’s just not going to happen. They’re going to flip counts on him throwing breaking stuff when he’s expecting straight. They’re going to stay away from the hitting zones until he forces them to throw strikes. And every once in a while they’ll make a mistake like the meatball he saw in his first AB.

    Marte wasn’t even an average hitter last year. He NEEDS to change.

  175. Arriba Wilver says:

    It is related to that, Nate, like I mentioned above.

  176. Arriba Wilver says:

    Sure. $1?

  177. 21sthebest says:

    Sounds good Mortimer.

  178. Sarah says:

    Well…wish I could agree with you Luiz – but adaptability is really an area I feel like DB is falling short.
    And in long 7-game playoff series vs the same team – it’s all about making changes, and adapt, and counter-adapt.

    I give DB a low grade there. But – we’ll see come springtime!

    Bylsma has (IMO) exactly one more chance to show that he can make those kinds of adaptations.

    Fingers crossed….

  179. JohninOshkosh says:

    Have you heard the latest crazy sports conspiracy theory going around. Te’o sandbagged the combine and tanked the 40 so that he could fall in the draft to where SF could draft him.

    You know because there arn’t any gay people except in SF. Plus there arn’t any gay football players so if there is just going to be just one in the entire NFL, then he better play in SF.

    Also presupposes a first round draft, btw/

  180. Kevin says:

    NHL reallignment. I know this would be totally crazy but how bout a whole new system. 3 conferences, 10 teams each, round robin soccer-style playoffs. Each conference has a group of 5-6 that qualifies for the playoffs, each team plays every other team in that group, highest points advances to the final round robin. The exception is in the final round robin you play everyone twice and then the last game is between the two top point getters as a winner takes all.

  181. Kevin says:

    or better yet, top 2 in each opening robin round qualify for the final robin round. That would make each “series” 5 games each. The top 2 point getters in the final round get your regular 7 game playoff to determine stanley cup champion.

    So, basically, you get rid of seeding. Everybody plays each other in the opening round. Everybody plays the next 5 best teams that qualify for the 2nd round. And then the best two fight to the death.

    3 games per week.. 5 games + 5 games + 7 games.. playoffs last about 5.5 weeks.

  182. Jandy says:

    You blame a LOT of the loss on Letang? Pulease!

    The entire team sucked lemons and you’re singling out Tanger?

  183. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s a horse of a different color.

  184. Sarah says:

    Yeah. Every team has an occasional bad game. But watch the really solid groups against crappy clubs – they mulch them. Pens seem to take the night off and hope they scrape by. Kinda like the Steelers’ record v losing teams, compared to say, Pats.

    I could be recalling wrong – but was Staal on the nbr 1 PP unit? Maybe when Sid was out I guess. But they lack net front presence for sure. Kunitz is not getting it done. I miss Ryan Malone both for PP and chemistry with Geno. I have heard he’d love to come back here, but who knows.

    And SO tired of offensive D like LeTang coughing up pucks and losing position.

    Interesting to see how fast Vokoun got The Shakes playing behind this D.

    All the MAF critics out there take note. The types of mistakes Pens make are worst for goalies. Poor in zone position/awareness, no net-clearers, sloppy turnovers, and worst, stretch home run passes.
    When these are predictably intercepted and the play comes back, the HUGE gap between the Pens’ Fs and the Ds are the worst to deal with for a goalie. Tons of space for the attacker(s) which means tons of options, and usually a lot of speed vs back-pedaling D.

  185. Jandy says:

    Honest question for the guys:

    Say you were a football player in the NFL, and one or two players were drafted to play on your team. You KNOW they are gay. Would it bother you in the locker room? I’m being seriious here, not being funny.

  186. 21sthebest says:

    Yeah that.

    And Nate, generally speaking I’m not in favor of tinkering if a player is successful. That’s my pet peeve with some of our prior pitching coaches. But I just think Marte needs what I described.

  187. Jandy says:


  188. Jandy says:

    Sarah, hubby was ready to fire Voloun last night lol. I said, something is wrong. He was solid his first three games, and now we have this? This isn’t Vokoun.
    Well, the play in front of him sure isn’t inspiring.

  189. 21sthebest says:


  190. Jandy says:

    Is this question too tough for you guys? or other?

  191. Wouldn’t bother me if he could play football.

    I wasn’t that attractive to women when I played football, let alone men.

  192. What causes those double posts?

  193. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, but I’d like to be able to joke about it. But no, and I expect most players today wouldn’t care.

  194. Arriba Wilver says:

    It’s a golf bet,

  195. Jandy says:

    Friggin ghosts!

  196. Jandy says:

    I would hope so, AW, but I’m not sure what goes on in the minds of most guys. I wondered if you’d feel threatened by it, or just uncomfortable.

  197. Jandy says:


  198. 21sthebest says:

    I care what people do not who they do. Wouldn’t bother me.

  199. Iceman says:

    So maybe I was out of line for placing so much blame on Letang, but his poor decision came at a point when the Pens had made a remarkable push to bring the game back to a tie. After being down 4-1, they should’ve been playing a much tighter game defensively to make sure they got at least 1 point. Letang makes the decision to make a bad pass and then try to make-up for that bad pass by putting himself way out of position (if you have a chance to watch the video of the 5th goal, please do and i think you will see what I’m talking about).

    But don’t worry Jandy, his hair was as dirty as always :)

  200. Jandy says:

    Thanks, 21. Appreciate your honest answer. And I feel this is how things should be, too.

  201. Patrick says:

    I was in the Navy. Stationed in San Francisco from 93-95. Wouldnt bother me a bit.

    But I will say, being born and raised in Butler I went through a substantial culture shock for the first 2 months of California life. But i got used to it. i shared a compartment on board that was about 30’x32′ with 72 other guys. I know at least 3 of them were gay. It was a little weird for a few days.

    As my chief once put it “If you think its weird for you, imagine how uncomfortable the gay guy is.”

  202. Now IC, you know that’s mousse, not dirt.


  203. Jandy says:

    LOL Patrick, thanks for the story…and the humor. :)

  204. 21sthebest says:

    Frankly though, I’m conflicted about how I feel about gay marriage but I’m not comfortable with people marrying people that don’t exist.

    I bet Drew’s in favor of that though.

  205. Sarah says:

    Well Tomas was awful. He’s been awful last 2 games. He’s played twice now in what 16 days? Perhaps he’s not cut out for the backup role.

    I did not mean to imply Vokoun was not at fault – he was for sure.

    My point was, undisciplined play and boatloads of mistakes breaks down goalies. If they’re having an off night to boot, it gets ugly. Fast.

    More worried that this was supposed to be a rest day for MAF. So much for that. I doubt we see Vokoun for awhile now. Which may not help him.

  206. Sarah says:

    In my experience its like anything else. Some people bothered by it, some people don’t care.
    Generally speaking the better you can play, the less anybody cares….

    I hope Teo does not answer the question….that would mean it was OK for it to be asked. And IMO it isn’t OK.

    Of course, the NFL makes its own rules….

  207. Luiz Mello says:

    On paper, I like the Pens against any other team in the East. NJ and Philadelphia included (there have been solid wins against both this season).

    The problem is that right now you can’t know what version of the Pens will show up, and for how many minutes it will play. This is what have been killing us in the playoffs.

    And I agree with all who posted that there are concerning signs this season that this issue hasn’t been addressed at all.

  208. Luiz Mello says:

    Sarah, while I try to be optimistic, I’m afraid you’re right.

    I agree this season is likely HCDB’s last chance. Another similar playoff debacle will be hard to explain. At the same time, I don’t see him going any sooner than that, barring perhaps an unprecedented collapse.

    There’s also a good chance the Pens will make a couple of significant roster moves until the trade deadline. The salary cap space is there this year.

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