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Morning Java: Kunitz, Neal for Canada

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> We’ll find out today who Team Canada is taking to Sochi at 11 a.m., and that’s kind of a big deal. If it seems like more attention goes to that, even locally, than for Team USA, there are a couple good reasons:

1. It’s an incredible all-star team, in a video-game mashup kind of way.

2. It’s really the only one that came with any uncertainty related to the Penguins. Think about it: Evgeni Malkin was the only Russian in the equation. Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin were locks for the U.S. Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta almost surely will learn today that they’ll play for Finland.

James Neal and Chris Kunitz should hear the same from Steve Yzerman and the Canadian delegation.

I could go through all kinds of stats, but Pittsburgh hockey fans are the last ones who need to be convinced.

I’ll instead just say this: Kunitz knows Sidney Crosby’s game better than anyone, even better than Pascal Dupuis. That isn’t easy. Crosby isn’t Mario Lemieux, who could turn a fire hydrant into a 40-goal scorer. Crosby needs someone moving at his speed, ricocheting off him, trailing him, leading him … and if he has that, he’s nothing less than the best player in his sport.

Some people have gotten a little touchy when this comes up, as if Kunitz would go over to be Crosby’s caddie. It’s ridiculous. He’d be going over to maximize your best asset. There’s no shame in that. If anything, it would make even more sense after Mike Babcock struggled immensely to find that player in Vancouver. I covered those Games, and it became issue No. 1 through the round robin.

Do they really want that drama all over again?

As for Neal … well, Josh Yohe’s in Vancouver, and he covers the Real Deal quite nicely this morning.

And on Sunday morning, Rob Rossi covered the Kunitz angle.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including a look ahead to tonight’s faceoff.

Here’s Canucks news from the Vancouver Sun.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Pitt improves to 2-0 in the ACC by totally taking out Maryland, this time sparked by Durand JohnsonKevin Gorman reports from the Pete.

Been saying this all along, but this season could be some fun.

Check out some of last night’s game highlights …

>> Lots and lots and lots of stuff from the first day of the Pirates’ minicamp. Rob Biertempfel is the only Pittsburgh reporter in Bradenton covering the event, and we’re proud of that at the Trib.

The coverage includes this video of newcomer Chris Dickerson

… and of Andrew Lambo, one of the hopefuls for first base and right field:

>> Eights assistants are out as Penn State’s coaching search continues, by Chris Adamski.

>> I’ll be off today. For those of you fellows of the Orthodox faith, a wish a very merry Christmas and health and happiness to you and your families.

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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.

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