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Saturday column: The right focus

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Saturday column on the Penguins’ firing of Ray Shero likes the focus of Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, if not some of their form, if not possibly leaving Dan Bylsma and staff in a lurch.

Here’s some jerk in press row asking David Morehouse about the day’s element of weirdness:

If you missed it, here’s the full Lemieux/Burkle interview.

The news coverage of Shero’s firing, by beat man Rob Rossi.

Potential GM candidates, by Rossi.

The power structure, by Rossi.

The coaches’ future, by Josh Yohe.

Fans struggle to figure it all out, by Jason Mackey.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Penguins page and our Chipped Ice blog.

Here are official game highlights on, including the great Teemu Selanne’s final farewell in Anaheim.

>> I’ll be with the Steelers at rookie camp today.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

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. DJ says:

    Was a very weird day.

    Hope we’re now past all the finger pointing and we move on quickly to right the ship.

  2. BillyBaduka says:


    NBC used a clip of you asking the “weirdness” question in thier Kings-Ducks pre-game show last night.

    My wife laughed when you asked the question. She said “weirdness, that’s a great way to put it. It’s definitely the elephant in the room.”

    I said “that’s Dejan!”.

    “Really? That’s cool.”

    The NBC analysts were asked about the “weirdness”.

    She says, “That’s great that they are using his term on the national coverage.”

    I read your interview with Lemieux/Burkle to her earlier. She gave me a look saying; “you’re really reading me a blog entry?”

    By the end she was riveted.

    Wonderful work yesterday DK!

    Many thanks.

  3. JohninOshkosh says:


  4. Pucknutz says:

    “Element of weirdness”

    May be a bit of an understatement.

  5. Vette60 says:

    Thanks for all the info that you, Rossi and Yohe have been putting out. It is really appreciated, especially by me as a Pittsburgh ex-pat here in Richmond. Today’s technology really allows for me to feel a bit closer to home.

    When listening to the news conference yesterday I was floored that I didn’t here Bylsma’s name mentioned. I initially thought I had missed it! It’s a bit crazy that it had to be asked that he was not actually fired.

    Also, I was really disappointed that Mario was not there. The response that was received during the sit down was pretty weak. One of the most important decisions that was made in the last 6 years and neither Burkle or Mario show up for the presser because that’s not their style? Lame. Nothing against Morehouse but he’s not the guy I expected to see up there.

    The sit down did shed light on some things but I agree that I really don’t see how on earth Bylsma is still there after a new GM comes on board. While getting Babcock would be great, I am not really certain how it would work out.

    Gotta run. Lots to do today starting with a soccer tourney for my son!

    Later all!

    Randy in RVA.

  6. Hopefully, the Pirates/Yankees game won’t be rained out again and the Preakness can go off without a hitch. And that’s all I have to say about things this morning.

  7. DJ says:

    Kings 6 — Ducks 2.

    Shocking they did it without “The Piece.”

  8. And as for the Pens’ situation, Mario has reinforced Coach Bylsma, and also says that management is acting swiftly but thoroughly, whatever that means.

  9. People that can help our club:

    Polanco 3-4 with a walk, 2 RBI (38) and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. BA .380

    Locke 7 innings, 1 hit, 5 K’s, 3 Walks, threw 100 pitches, which is a plus for him as he usually throws that many in 5 innings.

    Dickerson 3-4, HR (3) and 3 RBI, BA .348

  10. Thundercrack says:

    “We fell into spending to the cap just because it was there,” Burkle said.

    That really stuck out at me.

    when you have a billionaire owner and a long streak of sellouts, and you spend the max in a league with a cap maybe it covers a lot of warts…at least to the fan base

  11. Thundercrack says:

    In a couple of weeks Lucky :-)

    ( Dickerson may be more of a AAAA player)

  12. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Thank YOU. And her, too, of course!

  13. And they wonder why the team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 5 years.

  14. Craig in VA says:

    I’ll go back to the comment I made yesterday on the interview thread- as I read the quotes from Mario and Burkle, they were talking about their dissatisfaction with the team in the context of firing Shero, but if I didn’t know better, I would have thought they were talking about why they fired the coach. DK’s column today makes me feel a bit better about my reading comprehension skills.

    If it’s time for Bylsma to go – and it is – let’s hope they don’t mess around long enough to start having second thoughts. The clock is ticking on some pretty important players careers.

  15. CraiginVA says:

    I’ll go back to the comment I made yesterday on the interview thread- as I read the quotes from Mario and Burkle, they were talking about their dissatisfaction with the team in the context of firing Shero, but if I didn’t know better, I would have thought they were talking about why they fired the coach. DK’s column today makes me feel a bit better about my reading comprehension skills. I know a lot of it was Shero’s work, but a lot of it was Bylsma, too

    If it’s time for Bylsma to go – and it is – let’s hope they don’t mess around long enough to start having second thoughts. The clock is ticking on some pretty important players careers.

  16. CraiginVA says:

    My posting skills still leave something to be desired, however…

  17. I’m sure he is. Like Snider. Tabby probably will be the 4th OF of the future. Snider on Food Network.

    Locke will be in the rotation soon.

  18. Patrick(RI) says:

    Ah, but repeating oneself is the most frequent art form displayed on blogs!

  19. Arriba Wilver says:

    Let me just throw this out there as a possibility. Last year they were most disappointed with Bylsma, and wanted to fire him. Shero convinced them to keep him, obviously convincing them they were on the right track and would do better this year. So their disappointment turned more to Shero. And, throughout the year they also saw that, with the personnel moves, etc. maybe HE was more of the problem. Just a thought.

    Another thought—are we even sure that last year all they wanted was Dan fired? Burkle said they regretted in hindsight not making the change last year. Could that have meant they also contemplated the change at GM last year, too?

    But yeah, Dan’s still Dead Man Walking.

  20. Arriba Wilver says:

    If Snider’s on the Food Network, I hope they bat him lead off.

  21. Thundercrack says:

    The day my wife is riveted by a blog entry is the day we renew our vows.


  22. JohninOshkosh says:

    I know many here arn’t going to be watching, but the NHL conference finals are going to both be terrific, I think.

    In the NBA, how hilarious if the dysfunctional Pacers, quite laughable really, end up in the Finals ? I’m pulling for OKC to go all the way. Kevin Durant is the type of player whose skill and mental toughness comes together maybe once or twice every 30 years. And few are as fun to watch as Russell Westbrook.

    Preakness is today. Hoping California Chrome takes it.

    Happy Saturday, all!

  23. The Pens say they’re going to let the next GM reevaluate Coach Bylsma once he’s appointed, which would likely apply if they appointed someone from within, since an outsider would more likely appoint his own man, or am I wrong about that, especially as concerns an NHL team.

  24. JohninOshkosh says:

    Also, just noticed Buccos/Yanks is national game on Fox Sports 1 at 4:00 ET (up against Preakness coverage).

  25. Ricky Sledgehammer says:

    Great interview w/ Pens ownership. I noted that Morehouse acted as the enforcer for the superstars! Good metaphor for what the Pens need next season.

  26. Jandy says:

    I saw some of the Kings/Ducks last night (hubby.turned it on, go figure) and it was damn good hockey. I’m interested in seeing more.
    Go Chrome!

  27. The Pens also say they expect a big response in applications for GM so it might well be awhile before Coach Bylsma’s final status is finally determined.

  28. Jandy says:

    That dork must be some kinda Looney, just sayin’

  29. Arriba Wilver says:

    Here’s a couple quotes from the other paper’s exclusive interview:

    “When we try to evaluate why we haven’t been more successful in the playoffs, obviously the coach comes into the picture, but, if you listened to what we said about what kind of team we want to have — and we don’t have what kind of team we want to have today — then that comes back to more of a GM issue.” Burkle

    “Once you get in the playoffs, it’s long two months, it’s a long journey, and to get to the end you need grit certainly, but you need character to go through adversity, from game to game.” Lemieux.

    The Burkle one is kind of what I was trying to clumsily say.

    Mario’s is interesting because I wasn’t sure exactly what they had meant by character. But apparently it wasn’t off ice issues. I guess it goes back to the Cowher thing that adversity doesn’t create character, it reveals character, or lack thereof. I guess that’s more a GM issue, too. Not about Shero himself, but the team he put together.

  30. All I care about as concerns the Preakness is just how California Chrome will finish, since at this point, it looks as if he’ll likely finish first once again. Now as for the Pirates, well, It’s been awhile since they’ve beaten the Yankees in a regular season game, and Endison Volquez is starting this afternoon, and so, well you’ve been warned.

  31. Arriba Wilver says:

    Of course it is. It’s the Yanks. ;-)

    Do we know who’s pitching, what with the rainout and all?

  32. JohninOshkosh says:

    Preakness is a short race, JT, but Cali Chrome can fly. Just has to avoid getting boxed in after the bell. Not much real estate to make up for sluggish starts.

  33. JohninOshkosh says:


  34. JohninOshkosh says:

    Sorry, I do not know.

  35. Milo Hamilton says:

    He certainly scared everyone else off. Only 2 other horses that ran the Derby bothered to make the trip to Baltimore. That usually doesn’t happen until the Belmont. Expecting a little faster pace this time, but it shouldn’t matter. I’m throwing Kid Cruz into my exacta & tri just to try & make some money.

  36. Arriba Wilver says:


  37. Nancy52 says:

    According to that other paper, today is Volquez vs Phelps. Sunday, it’s Morton game 1 and Cole game 2.
    Yankees have Kuroda and Nuno but hadn’t decided who pitches which game. They each get to bring up
    a 26th player for Sunday.

  38. JAL says:

    Volquez, Morton, and Cole for pirates

    Phelps, Kuroda, and Nuno for yanks

  39. JAL says:

    adding to that–Morton starts game 1 of the DH, Cole game 2 Yanks have not announced whether Kuroda or Nuno will start game 1 of the DH

  40. JohninOshkosh says:

    I was surprised at the no-shows. If I were inclined to believe conspiracies, then I might think the sport is angling to end the Triple Crown drought to create buzz for the industry and internet gambling legislation. :)

    I don’t believe that, by the way.

    Payoff for a Chrome Win ticket will be like $2.01! If money is to be had, it will be made in the quinella, exacta or trifecta.

  41. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, all.

  42. JohninOshkosh says:

    Just putting that out for mere amusement purposes, kids. Please, act responsibly!

  43. TJA says:

    Nice column, Dejan!

    Thought we had seen some really weird and strange things with the Pitates…which we could expect yearly, for years…but the Pens showed some strange things yesterday for sure.

  44. Milo Hamilton says:

    Yeah, right.

  45. Maybe Manager Clint Hurdle isn’t phased so far by the bullpen’s blown saves, but I am disgusted, especially since in the 9th inning of the last game vs. the Brewers, the Buds were ahead 3-2 with only 3 outs to go, and Melancon couldn’t get anyone out and they lost, and this, naturally, isn’t the only example of the bullpen’s distressing ineptitude, nor, I fear, will it be the last this season.

  46. Wild Bill says:

    No problem with the Pirates and the Preakness. The Bucs are at 4. The Preakness will not roll till 6:18. Polanco will already have three hits by then. Oh, wait….

  47. Arriba Wilver says:

    Ahead by one run is the hardest closer situation to be in, James. If they’re tied, it’s not a save situation.

  48. CraiginVA says:

    In my case it’s not art. Just a lack of ideas, oft repeated.

    Nice looking hound, BTW.

  49. Wild Bill says:

    Interesting stuff, Hm. Fun to compare it to where the roster is six months from now. So much depending on the preferences of the next GM.

  50. hockeymonster says:

    Thanks untamed Bill :)

  51. Andrew says:

    For the MLB 40% of save opportunities are 1 run; this year for the Pirates it is 77%. Bullpen hasn’t been good but it has also been leaned upon a lot.

  52. JohninOshkosh says:

    The last time…

    103 Preakness Stakes May 20, 1978.

    Possibly the greatest thoroughbred race ever contested.

  53. JohninOshkosh says:

    The late, great Chic Anderson with the call. Mr. Anderson would die within a year of this race.

  54. hockeymonster says:

    One of the forwards i suggested pens sign out of college beat the baby pens in OT last night.


  55. Milo Hamilton says:

    “Secretariat is widening now. He’s moving like a tremendous machine.”

    Chic Anderson was the greatest.

  56. JohninOshkosh says:

    Sorry, I messed up this post big time. Clicked on the 78 Belmont instead of the Preakness. Of course, the Belmont sealed the Triple Crown for Affirmed and featured the great foot race down the stretch where the doomed, but great, Alydar momentarily took the lead by a nose in the last 1/4 furlong.

    Preakness was not shabby, either.

    Steve Cauthen, in the irons astride the magnificent Affirmed, was 18 years 19 days old on the date the 1978 Preakness was contested!

  57. JohninOshkosh says:

    Wonder what the Habs blogs look like right now ?



  58. Sisyphus says:

    That was a great call. Had to be, to be worthy of a great race.

  59. BillyBaduka says:

    The conference finals should be great.

  60. Jandy says:

    He’s some Looney! ;)

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