Older LetsGoPens.com Posts of the Week

My final thoughts on the trade -

I am tired of the subject so I am going to have my final say and then leave the subject alone.

Take yourself back in time.......

Colorado have just clinched the cup and the Pens face a tough off-season of signings. Craig Patrick decides screw it, he resigns all of our free agents to the raises they deserve and keeps Jaromir Jagr the scoring title winner and worlds best player. We have gone against the teams policy of $33 million and have our team intact but now have a team salary of say $40 million.

Everyone is amazed at CP's wisdom to keep Mario and Jagr together and the amazing 2nd line are all signed. We keep Kraft on the 3rd line and leave the rest in WBS and we have a good shot at the cup.

Now look into the future.......

CP and Mario are forced to put ticket prices up %25 to make up for the raised salary. Now the likes of the season ticket holders on the board who are loyal as can be have the money sucked out of their checking account and curse under their breath when they notice but thats it. The sell-outs are going to stop if the prices go up that much, maybe slowly at first but they will. People to the west are going to start rooting for the BJ's simply because taking their 2 kids to the Igloo will be impossible financially. That puts Pittsburgh back into money problems and maybe this time we are not so lucky to have Mario save us and French banks bail us out.

In my opinion trading Jagr was not an option CP wanted to do. We are a small market team forced by cash restraints to trade our best player, the fact that we got so much cash in the deal indicates that. But that does not mean we are not a good team even without Jagr. The New York Rangers spend millions every year on high profile players and still miss the playoffs, there is no reason that we will automatically miss the playoffs because of the loss of one player.

Hockey is a team game and as with other teams and other sports when one leaves someone else will step up. Whether it be a current player or someone coming up from WBS only time will tell.

I know the board is split between the Jagrites and the anti-Jagrs and I have most likely angered both in someway, but he's gone. Check out the Ebay link. He is a Cap and whether he whined his way out or whether disgruntled fans and media chased him out it makes no difference now. We have to look to the future.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that when it comes to the Penguins I would rather have a team without Jagr than no team at all.

- ToonBroon

Final Thoughts On The Devils Series -

Well it was a disappointing end to a nice playoff run this year, fellow Pens fans. I wish the Pens gave us a better showing against the Devils, but they were clearly the better team in all areas. Here are some closing thoughts on the Devils series:

- the length of the Buffalo series took its toll against the Devs. The Pens had no legs, hardly any effort and poor execution in this Devils series. Mario was out of gas,the 3rd and 4th lines had no forecheck, and the power play provided no help against New Jersey

- No player except for Johan Hedberg really raised the level of their game.Hedberg had a great playoff run, he struggled late in this Devils series, but the pressure thrown at him was intense. For a goalie with no playoff experience to get the Pens this far was impressive, and Hedberg deserves big credit

- Alexei Kovalev had an invisible series against NJ, and for most of the playoffs. I don't know what motivates this incredibly talented enigmatic hockey player.But he has had 2 poor playoff seasons in a row. All the media focus has been on Jagr and his poor play, but the biggest disappointment of this series and the entire 2001 playoffs was the play of Alexei Kovalev, the guy floated around in a fog the past 2 months

- Jaromir Jagr was a huge disappointment in the Devs series as well. It is sad to realize that Jagr will be gone and left playing his worst playoff hockey. The guy was indecisive and disinterested against NJ, and I cannot figure that out. In 11 years, he has NEVER had a poor playoff showing.Maybe the pounding his body has taken caught up with him. Despite the media spin, this guy has been a gritty player over the years.Maybe he lost his heart in the Devs series, but he did nothing and afer all the brilliance we have seen from him, that was a suprise. It will be sad to see Jagr go

- When you have a group of defensemen like the Pens have, they are always a threat to get exposed big time. The Devs torched this group all series. Kasparaitis has heart, Ference showed a lot of promise, and Boughner is a real leader. But I wouldn't blink an eye if Laukkanen, Jonsson, Moran and Bergevin all got sent packing. All 4 of those guys had a horrible playoff showing and the Devs ate them up at every turn, they are the albatross around this teams neck

- The Pens got a bright glimpse of the talent of Aleksey Morozov in the Devils series, and he has put life back into his career. He may not fulfill his potential, but by playing hard and using his skill, Morozov did well for himself and is worth keeping on this squad
- when the Penguins played with heart and intensity, they were a force. I can't figure out why that disappeared against the Devils. Maybe Ivan Hlinka screwed up their heads with his line juggling, or maybe they stopped believing in each other. It would have taken an enormous effort to beat the Devils, but at times the effort was non-existent. If the Pens played harder, this series would have been a tight one. But in the long run, they got whipped. I guess New Jersey took their heart away. But I wish the Pens would have competed harder in these games

Overall, the playoffs were another wild ride. The win over the Caps, the comeback against Buffalo, the chance to see the GREAT Mario Lemieux in the playoffs. The disappointment of the Devils series is big, but there were some great moments in these playoffs despite the way it ended.

sigh, I thought there was more to come.....

- Captain Late

An open letter to some people. -

Now that our team has advanced to the next round, only to be rewarded by playing the defending Stanley Cup champions, I want to direct a few thoughts at some people within the organization. Thanks for letting me ramble...

To Craig Patrick:
Never will I question your personnel decisions again. Well, maybe never again, but not nearly as much. Many teams added many big-time names at the deadline, Pens fans were clamoring for one also, but you remained cool and picked up an AHL defenseman and an even lower level goaltender for practically nothing. Other teams can have all the big names they wan, I don't think any pickup has changed their teams' playoff fortunes more than acquiring Johan Hedberg did.

To Johan Hedberg:
See above.

To Mario Lemieux:
I know you're probably not playing up to the level you'd want to be at, I mean your are only at the top of the playoff point leaders by a point or two. Either way, thanks for saving the Pens.... again. Thanks for making me holler after a goal like I haven't done for, oh, about 3 1/2 years. Really, just thanks... again.

To Martin Straka:
On any other team besides this one, you'd be the main star. You don't let that bother you at all, though. It is no coincidence that you pulled through when it counted in 2 OT games so far. Heart is what prevails in those situations, and you've got more than anyone else on the team, my friend.

To Darius Kasparaitis:
You dog, you. You definitely "own Hasek". Why do I think there hasn't been a lockeroom like there was after last night for a long, long, time? I'd have loved to been a fly on the wall. Either way, congrats and thanks. For a player who gets a ton of grief from *ahem* sports network anchors, and other players, this has got to be sweet, sweet revenge.

To Steve Heinze:
See above ;o)

To Jags and Stevens:
Most people focused on the Kaspar belly flop after the goal. I personally loved you two guys. Jags, I don't remember seing you smile that wide and sincerely since I don't know when, I really hope to see it more often from you... regardless of what uniform you may be in doing it. You are living the dream of many... enjoy it and don't forget it. Kevin... all I can say is you gave me deja vu last night. I thought it was the early 90s all over again. The "Fox Sports" logo in the corner of the screen instead of "KBL" was the only thing that snapped me back to reality. Keep it up, Artie.

To Edzo, Mike:
Mike and Edzo, thanks for wearing the same clothes as game 6. Edzo, way to get the rallies going.

To Marc Bergevin:
I don't know whether it was a hush-hush injury or the speed of the Sabres that kept you out of the last few games. Either way, I'm sorry you couldn't have been out there on the ice celebrating with the guys. I still think you were a big part of the Caps series win. You were the second best pickup of the year by CP. Not only do you bring solid play to the blueline, you bring much added character and wisdom to the locker room. It was you who spoke up and said what many were thinking at the end of the season when the team's defense was non-existent. That led to an acceptance by many of the players that is leading to an Eastern Conference Finals Series.

To Matt Barnaby and Jiri Slegr:
Sorry you guys couldn't be here to enjoy the run so far. If us fans had our way, you probably wouldn't be gone. It was for the best of the team, though. Great class, you showing up in the corridor to the locker room last night, Matt. I don't care what anyone says, you're a class act.
- Ben Klingston

The price of fame -

Show me the big playoff game where Jagr wasn't there.

Facing elimination against NJ two years ago, he was there. He was limping, he was advised to play PP only to give the team more of an emotional boost, well he took a regular shift and we know the outcome. Last year I think he was hospitalized with a blood clot and then came back two weeks early because we were in danger of missing the playoffs, we know what happened there too.

I know I've brought up these examples time and again but this guy has missed 6 of 130 possible playoff games. Also realize he is a main target of every defensive scheme he plays against, he takes more abuse than anyone in these situations.

I know there is a price to fame, but there should be an amount of class shown to an athlete that has done what he has. Is he a natural leader? No, I don't think so, but his play on the ice has never wavered. He has a PPG in the playoffs, led the regular season in scoring, you really can't ask more of this guy.

I hope he is cheered wildly when he comes through the tunnel. The Pens play better when he is in there, why? Cause the players know better than anyone what he brings to the team. I also hope he has a huge game and everyone just shuts up and lets the guy play. He deserves better from any Pittsburgh fan who cheered his scratch. Something tells me alot of those were from Buffalo fans but any Pens fan who did, needs a reality check.
- Goalie

It's only a game -

Itís only a game, itís only a game. Thatís what I repeated over and over in my mind when I got out of bed this morning. Not much sleep, but happy beyond belief. Nothing to be this ecstatic about. Not only that, but itís just the first round. An overtime winner like Strakaís to take the Stanley Cup...now THAT would be something.

On the other hand, in a way it didnít seem real. I knew weíd won the game and series, I was thrilled for Marty. But still...I was surprised to see the guys piling onto the ice, piling onto each other. And I was actually shocked when they started lining up for handshakes. It didnít feel over. Iím not ready to let go of the excitement of a series I knew we could win, and face the uncertainty of playing the Sabres. I donít know that much about them. I mean, I know their players...Hasek, Barnes, Satan, Heinze...but didnít give much thought to them as a contender. I thought they were all goaltender. But they proved otherwise by knocking the living daylights out of the Flyers. Obviously they were already ďa teamĒ before the playoffs even began. If you believe the goaltender is the backbone of a team, and I do, the additions they made at the trading deadline couldnít have affected them the way our hazy goaltending situation affected us.

One good thing: I donít think Buffaloís 8-0 whipping of Philadelphia felt any better to them than our 4-3 game last night felt to the Pens. In fact, I think weíll go into the second round still riding the wave of excitement and confidence. I think we can use that to beat the Sabres early. After the first game or two, I donít know.

You know, it doesnít feel like a game. It feels like something really important happened last night, drawing the team together, and making us fans more like a family than widely scattered strangers. It feels like this team, with itís borderline, often-injured defense, and itís rookie goaltender, and the awesome forwards, finally melded together into one being. A team.

Itís only a game...but itís one our ďteamĒ can win.
- Jan

The single man -

Much has been made about Mario's return to hockey. But Mario isn't the key player...

Jaromir Jagr's public comments and on-ice attitude made headlines and had fans divided about granting his wish for a trade. With Mario returning to take the spotlight and media attention away, Jagr could just be what he is -- a great player, without being what he isn't -- a great captain. Jagr isn't the key single player...

Ivan Hlinka, new to big-league coaching on small ice surfaces, and new to the city, made some rookie mistakes but once the ship was righted and Mario lent him some advice, Ivan didn't look as lost or frustrated behind the bench. Ivan, while important in his role, isn't the single man...

We start the series with three different goalies and individual attitudes. One, so surprised and happy to be playing for an NHL team after seeing the early part of his season in the minors. Another has just returned from an injury and from what the street seems to feel, will not be back next season. The last, has done everything he could to prove that he deserves big-league money and from my point of view, has been pushed to the back of the line.

Whichever goalie is playing, it will seem like a single man must be ready to earn the confidence and enough respect of the coaches, players and fans to carry us for 16 games to ultimate victory. It's a huge task for a single man to perform and a task that begins today...

Let the games begin and bring on the Caps!!!
- Big McK

Of Moose and Men -

LOL ya just gotta love Johan Hedberg! Since he became a Penguin a few weeks ago these post titles just write themselves! Not only has Bedbug made it easier to post but he has brought along with him something that I haven't seen or felt for a long time concerning the Pens chances this postseason.

Hope.

Who among us can honestly say three weeks ago that the Pens had even an outside chance of making a good run in the playoffs? The Pens were mired in a seemingly endless procession of losses and half-assed wins that nobody felt particularly happy with. Snowball was hurt and JS Aubin was hardly doing his George Vezina impression. This team was stuck in neutral and headed nowhere fast.

So here comes this guy at the trade deadline with a hat full of question marks and a moose on his mask, a career minor leaguer who hadn't even played at the NHL level. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain. All he has done since then is steal games like a thief in the night and win our hearts with his good play. He has given us the feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Pens have a chance to win the Stanley Cup this year.

At the same time we have watched the rest of the Penguins, who since the beginning of the season have adlibbed their way thru this little off Broadway show, suddenly be given a script they all agree to follow and are playing like winners. OK, so the LWL is sometimes not the most exciting thing to watch but if you subscribe to the Whatever Works Theory it's the winning that counts.

Speaking of winners, I just can't say enough about Mario Lemieux being able to lift this team up with seemingly nothing more than sheer force of his will. Saturday afternoon's exhibition of heart and desire was awesome to watch unfold and if anybody has the gaul to question Super M's desire to see this team succeed better have another look at the video from that tilt.

I have noticed on some of the other boards that people have been complaining about the way the Pens are winning. "It's boring". It's like watching paint dry". LOL well like who t f cares how they are doing it? They are playing together like a team for the first time in I don't know how long and I find it kind of refreshing that posters are now making excuses and grumbling over the wins instead of the team grumbling and making excuses for the loses. To me winning is exciting and losing is boring.

The Penguins are starting to act and play like a team that believes in itself and it couldn't come at a better time. Suddenly the Pens have a little momentum going into the post season and if they continue like this, things could get very interesting over the next few weeks.

I am very hopeful that Hedberg can carry us the distance. I know for a fact that I'll never look at a moose the same way again.
- roger

Everybody is Kung-Fu Fighting . . . -

In the paper today I read what we all knew, Hedy Lamarr (Editor's note: Johan Hedberg) is starting in goal tonight and while I feel for Aubin, I don't think he's the issue. I don't think Hedy's the issue either. I think the issue is Garth Snow.

While so many seem to have taken sides and taken up arms preparing for a Braveheart-esque battle to the death over who we should start in the playoffs, I would argue that the only decision that matters involves Garth Snow. I would also argue that the decision which needs to be reached is to sit him on the bench for the playoffs.

I understand and do recall that I was one of the most vocal advocates for a Beezer/Felix The Cat kind of acquisition near the deadline, but since we didn't get someone who's been there before, someone who can virtually guarantee a win or two with no help, we have to start one of the youngsters.

Of everything the team accomplished last year, I think the biggest disappointment has to be that Aubin was hurt and couldn't go in the playoffs. As great as the Tuggernaut was, his playoff performance did nothing to help solve our long-term goaltender question, and playing Snow this time around won't either.

It might be one thing if Snow was healthy, and could withstand more than eight straight games without breaking down, but he's pretty much proven that's his limit. If that were the case, Mario could will us out of round one and maybe we could push our way into the Eastern Conference Finals to generate some revenue. But I don't see how Snow guarantees this.

I don't care if it's Aubin, Hedburg, Parent, or Caron playing when we take the ice for round one, this team needs a hint, the slightest clue as to where our goaltending is headed in the future and playing Snow does nothing to help clear any of this up.
- B.K.

You will survive -

This is directed mostly to the fans waiting to hear if Kaspar will be traded. But there are very few fans who don't have one player they enjoy more than the rest. Whether for the amazing goals they score, the thrilling hits, because you love the way he encourages his teammates, or just because you think he's cute, he's the one guy you can't bear to loseÖ.the one player you feel IS the Penguins.

I've read the posts, whether meant jokingly or not, where you say you will give up on the Pens if your favorite player is traded. But I know you won't. Look where you are....LetsGoPens.com, not Kasparaitis.com or Jagr.com. Almost every player has a web site and many of those have message boards. Yet here you are, posting at a site that represents the entire team, and not everyone you interact with loves the same player you do. Some hate him, in fact. Some of them lost their favorite player at last season's deadline. Some lost their favorite player when Jiri Slegr was traded, some when Matt Barnaby went to Tampa. Kaspar is my favorite player, Matt was second, but it never for one instant occurred to me to give up on the team when Matt went, nor will it if Kaspar goes.

That's because I've already gone through the worst. When Ron Francis left we lost the player that I know will always be the one I consider the best. There's just no question about it. I thought about staging a protest....wrote letters to the editor....but nothing I did would or could change anything. When I got over the worst of the anger I came to understand that the Pens are a TEAM, not one person. I learned that after a while, and you will too. For a while I combed the box scores for his name, knew his every statistic, visited the Hurricanes site almost daily after I got a computer. But after a few years my interest tapered off. And that's because I love the Pens more. He helped make the team what it is today....a team that hasn't missed the playoffs for many years, and almost certainly will make them again. He guided Jagr and even Mario, who isn't much younger, on their way to becoming what they are....do you really think Mario would have turned into the leader he is today if he'd never crossed paths with Ron?

What I'm trying to say is that if Kaspar leaves he won't be completely gone from the team for a long time. I don't want to sound too sentimental but I can't avoid it. He's given our young defenseman something to emulate. Hopefully they've learned from watching him do what he does best. Maybe they've even learned what NOT to do from watching his mistakes. Maybe they learned something from seeing him stay late to work on shooting the puck, and maybe one of them will do the same, but with more success.

Like I said, I'm talking to my fellow Kaspar-lovers, but these words could just as easily apply to any of us. In 36 hours the deadline will have passed....the player you love may be gone....but you won't be gone. You'll be back to b!tch and moan; some of us will sympathize, some will tell you to get over it already, the team is better off without him. You won't believe that, of course....but you will get over it. And it will be much easier than what you would have gone through if we had lost the whole team to another city. I know people who rooted for the Hartford Whalers and the Calgary Flames, and believe me, they still aren't over it. We have to hope that Craig Patrick is doing what's best for our team, whether with the aim of winning the Stanley Cup, or for financial reasons. Those two things go hand in hand, because we need playoff revenue to keep the team financially secure.

Good luck to all....I wish we could all keep our favorites, but it's probably not going to work out that way. We need to go deep into the playoffs again this year and our goaltending and defense are not what they could be. You can't trade one goaltender for a better one, or one sub-par defenseman for a Norris candidate....that means one or more really good players could bite the dust. And if....a really big if, I know....we should make it all the way....you will feel a twinge when the Pens lift the Cup, wishing your favorite player was there. You'll be thinking what he did to help the team get there, knowing how he would have loved to celebrate with the rest. But you'll never think it wasn't worth it.
- Jan

How do ya keep 'em all? -

Well, you don't (talking about all the RFAs). But, if you decide that you are basically an offensive team that wants to make a serious run each of the next 2 or 3 years, I think you can keep most of the big guns.

Who to keep? Well the first two lines should stay as intact as possible. Keys are, of coarse, Mario, Jagr, Kovalev, and Straka. This is your core. How to sign?

1. Trade Lang in off season, if not now. Kraft fills in next year. A no brainer. ~$1M now freed up.

2. Let UFAs go. Beranak, Boughner, lead this list. Savings ~2M in current salary. OK Folks, we've just paid Kovy handsomely with $3M up to $5.5... his asking price and not a big loss so far

3. Let Kaspar go, or trade Laukennen.. Freeing up 1.3 to 1.6 Mil. You now can pay Straka up to $3M.. his going rate now.

4. Consider trade Moran and Corbet. Good grinders, but age is making them UFA bound and higher salary than production might warrant. Free $1.5 M combined? Use to pay a solid backup/insurance policy to Aubin. Apply this, plus any new revenue streams to extend Jagr contract.

6. Fill in defensive slots with Ference, Melichar and Rosival. They're ready. Orpik and Kelleher might also be ready.

7. Bring up Peterson. Bring back Dome and give him a legit shot. If you can put up with Morozov, you can certainly give this kid a shot. At least he's tough to the net.

You now have a top gun team with its core intact. You have your best young offensive propects playing, and nice corp of big and mobile defenseman (Ference not withstanding). A young team that can still compete year in and year out while being entertaining.
- ZelieMike

A rock and a hard place -

Yes, the players have no faith in the coaches because the inmates run the asylum. Why is that? Most here will tell you that it's CP's fault.

But let's look at reality. CP hired Badger Bob, a tough coach. When Bob got sick, CP hired Bowman, as tough as they come.

The owner at the time was Howard "Let's all get along" Baldwin who was so into being "one of the boys" that he gave Mario and Barrasso virtual blank contracts because he negotiated those deals, not CP.

Mario gets upset that Bowman is too hard. He goes to CP. CP works for Baldwin who wants to be Mario's best buddy. CP is powerless because Baldwin will give Mario what Mario wants. So Bowman is alienated and eventually leaves for the big money in Detroit.

So, Mario's still around and Mario loves EJ. EJ is hired.

Cut to a few years later. Mario is hanging it up and the Pens blow. CP fires Mario's buddy. Mario retires.

With Mario out of the picture, CP hires KCon, a tough coach. All is well in Penguin land, despite Jagr's moaning.

Team is bankrupt. Mario saves the day. Mario is now CP's boss. A few months later, Jagr quits on KCon. Mario, who has infinite experience in these matters wants to keep the star happy. KCon is fired.

CP brings in Brooks, certainly not an easy coach. Brooks can't control the Pens and wants out. Hlinka is brought in, to appease and maybe control Jagr(who supposedly idolizes him).

Mario returns, team quits on Hlinka.

Doesn't anyone see the pattern here? I'm sorry, but CP has no power when it comes to coaches. He's as much of a lame duck as the coaches he hired because the OWNERS won't support HIM. CP tried numerous times to bring in strong coaches, but he was undermined every time.

CP isn't perfect. He hasn't yet shown that he can build an organization that developes its young talent, but things are looking up now that we have our own AHL team. CP has lots of faults, but its downright silly to put all the blame on the coaching situation on his shoulders when he is an employee.

I know someone's going to come back and say "If he doesn't like it, he can quit". True, but CP genuinely loves the city and franchise. I've met him at several charity functions and at his son's hockey games. He's still here because he is dedicated.

He's also a free agent this year. There's part of me that wishes he'd jump ship, because some team out there would offer him a few million a year to be their GM. Without CP, we'd really be in trouble. After all, who's going to replace him? Maybe once he's gone, some people will realize that he wasn't so bad after all.
- Duh

Cultivating a Goalie -

Before I go any further, let me say that I was very critical of Aubin last year, especially in the wake of his words about the WBS assignment. He has a lot to learn about the media, that is for sure.

As for the Pens goaltending situation, which he is the key for right now, I have some questions about what exactly the staff is trying to do. Are they looking to Aubin to get us by until Snow gets back? Do they want Aubin to step up and take the job down the stretch? Are they really NOT looking for a Goalie?

Aubin has not played well, but in reality all he's done that is absolutely poor is to let one goal by McKay trickle between his arm and his chest. I'll say that he hasn't stopped too many that were tough, but that was the only blatantly bad goal he's surrendered in the last couple of games.

My point isn't that he's playing well and getting shafted by the coaches and fans, just that he hasn't played great or poorly, merely average or slightly below on most nights in this stretch.

If we need him, we must make an effort to get him going. I've watched Martin Broduer struggle through tough stretches, and his teammates and coaches have gone the extra mile to deflect criticism and raise his confidence. When the Devils failed to make the Playoffs after winning their first Cup the previous year, there were PLENTY of stoppable shots in bad situations that eluded Broduer. He wasn't infallible, but his teammates reliance on him was.

WE don't have a Broduer in net. We don't even have a Chris Terreri, but what we have is a young Goalie who has shown in stretches that he can stop 30 of 32 and give us a chance to win. He isn't playing that way right now, maybe it's his injury and the layoff, maybe it's just confidence.

Everyone is freaked out, and rightfully so, about the kid's lack of Playoff experience. At some point, every young Goalie has his first shot at the Playoffs. You never know what you'll get. Sometimes it Roy, Broduer, Hextall or Boucher performances, sometimes it not. None of those guys were sure things walking in, and when their teams were eliminated it wasn't their doing.

So, what seems important to me is that the Pens make a decision RIGHT NOW about whether they think Aubin is going to play in the Playoffs. If they aren't sure that he won't, then they better make every effort to get this kid going, get him stoked. Skate harder on the backcheck, pinch less on the point, get the puck deep and stop the turnovers on the rush in the neutral zone and most importantly JAGR! get the GD puck out of the zone when you're forced on the boards in your end! Rally around the kid and reduce the workload until he gets his confidence back. We don't have to play like the Wild, but a little tighter for a stretch, get him some wins and then go.

Someone also should point out that the Owner has been a big minus over the last three games, and only Kovy has saved the Pens' bacon. Maybe just a little more emphasis on D would be helpful from all the guys, our Savior included.

Aubin has to play better or we have to get a Goalie, but there are steps that the caoches and his teammates can take to help him out.
- The Snapshot

Barnaby will be missed -

Had we gotten someone really good for him (possibly in a package like B.K. suggested) I would've felt a bit better about this. Even if they had added a defenseman rather than YET ANOTHER forward I would've been happier. But as it stands now it looks pretty much like a useless move. I'm trying to keep the faith, because for the most part I think Patrick does a good job, but this is very hard for me to swallow. In light of the fact we're top heavy on forwards and the trade doesn't seem like much of an improvement the absolute only thing I can think of is that maybe C.P. is keeping hush-hush about another deal down the line that this one was just a set-up for it. Maybe somebody somewhere wanted W. Primeau, or he's going to be part of a package with Morozov, Miller, or whomever in order to get us another d-man. I'm hoping this is the case anyway because I feel like Patrick just cut a big chunk out of the heart of this team, and he'd better come up with something to replace it.

There are many, many memories I will keep of Barnaby's time with the Penguins. Please bear with my while I list what I think were the things he brought to the table. If you don't like Barnaby or are easily bored, then don't bother reading any further, but I have to get this off my chest.

Pride:
I'll never forget him applauding the fans after the Pens were ousted from the playoffs. I know it sounds funny to say a guy who stuck his tongue out at other players on a regular basis had dignity, but he did. He was out for the season, and he thought to take a minute to thank the fans. Also, check out Dr. Boni's post below about his journal entry for today. It must have been hard to find something nice to say when being traded to a team with a lot less chance of making the playoffs, but he did -- and without slamming his former team. That shows true class.

Humor:
I'll forever be glad I made the trip to Atlanta for his next-to-last game as a Penguin. cc and Franker can back me on this one, but I know I'll never listen to Shania Twain the same way again. While he's sitting in the sin bin they were putting his face all over the Jumbotron and playing crybaby noises. He just laughed and stuck out his tongue. Then when they switched the music he looked up and sang "Man, I feel like a woman" right along with the chorus, grinning up at the camera the whole time. You've got to love a guy who can even laugh when they're mocking him.

Smarts:
When he finally fought Odgers in Atlanta he waited until the right time. Only after Jagr potted the empty netter did he drop the gloves. Prior to that he drew penalties without taking them himself. Though he sometimes took penalties when he shouldn't have, by far he drew more than he received.

Heart:
I don't know about the rest of you, but I clearly remember how down the team was when he arrived. Nobody stuck up for anyone else, and they were getting beaten on with impunity. I'm sure this is the part where his critics will say he didn't put up any useful numbers, but it's not always about the statistics people. Though he didn't win a lot of fights, he was always willing to do what needed to be done. For a while there, even when goals were scored it seemed that the Pens didn't get excited. Remember when the majority of the fans were pleading for a team with heart? We had as much skill as anyone else, and it still often hurt to watch them play. Barnaby changed all of that the day he put on the yellow and black.

I wish him all the best, and I will always be a Barnaby fan, no matter who he plays for. I don't care what his critics say, he has my vote and if he ever returns to the Pens I'll come up with some sort of appropriate sacrifice to the Hockey gods.

- LuvPens68/11

AP News Flash!: Pens board says to team... -

"We're against ya, loss or regulation tie!"

VIRTUAL PITTSBURGH -- The LGP message board remains completely deserted following the Penguins 4-0 win at Chicago Sunday night. Unlike the flurry of activity following the previous two games, the board's response to this win was and still is decidedly nonexistant.

The single poster who wandered through gave some very cryptic remarks. "Well, the defense is too soft, and they gave up way too many shots. Our goaltenders suck, and couldn't stop cars with a traffic light. Our forwards couldn't find the back of the net with a map and a compass, and the general mana---huh? We won? .....oh....well...uh... Snow sucks!" The lone poster then sprinted off into a distant corner of cyberspace.

The LGP board was then electronically boarded up by the Admin, with a sign reading "Closed for the win". When interviewed, the Admin could only say, sadly, "Wins are bad for business here."
- Three Stars

A New Direction? -

It seems that there has been yet another sea change in the philosophy of how Coach 'Links wants to use his available players on any given night. I was curious as to why Hans Jonsson, who had played so well against the Caps the night before and for the last few weeks has been one of the Pens most effective defenseman, was a scratch for last nights game against the Bruins. Here's the answer, from PenguinsLive.com:

"Penguins defenseman Hans Jonsson was a somewhat curious healthy scratch, seeing as he has been playing well. Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka explained that with eight healthy defensemen, he might rotate players in and out."

"Some guys don't play too many games, and you have to give them a chance to play," Hlinka said."

Does this mean a player, no matter how well he is playing, will be rewarded for his hard work with a trip to the owners box because it happens to be somebody else's turn in the rotation?

What happened to the idea that the Pens were going to use five man groups in three lines so they could become comfortable playing side by each with each other? While I have always thought that the idea of just having three lines was BS, the basic premise that keeping lines together to build chemistry is a solid one. We have watched during the first half of the season Hlinka's tinkering and experimenting with different combinations with a certain degree of success. For a while the Corbet/Morozov/Kraft line had our hearts all a-twitter, but it seems that that line has been dismantled recently and has not been playing nearly as well.

Last night's little experiment was a total disaster. Mixing up and changing the defensive pairings that had worked so well at the Phone Booth put people who had had very little playing time together. Arguably the best pairing the last month has been Lauk/Jonsson, and while I like Bob Boughner, he is more a grinder and just doesn't fit in with Lauk. Why would the coaching staff want to change up what has been working, just so somebody else ~cough Bergevin Norton cough~ can play?

I won't even ask why Kippy and Morozov played last night. I don't really want to know.

If I didn't know better I'd say that the word has come up from the bench that it's important for everybody to play at least a little. If they are going to get into rotating players just for the sake of everybody getting playing time there is a chance that the chemistry that has been building in the defensive pairing and the good play of the last two weeks is going to be disrupted.

The new philosophy sure didn't work last night.
- roger

Just curious, but has... -

Anyone else thought that -just- adding Lemieux will not change the larger problems with this team?

Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying he can't help... that would just be downright stupid! However, I am suggesting, I still feel we have weak spots on this team that Lemieux(the player) can't really fix. My concern is goaltending, and I have had this concern since the start of last year with Barrasso in net. I am not bashing the goalies we have now, but there are problems. Snow still seems to me to be nothing more than a back-up goalie, who has a few good games here and there. No big deal when you consider his pay. I for one believe we are getting our money's worth. You get what you pay for, right? If we want a Hasek, we are going to have to pay a heck of a lot more than 600 or 800k(I forget exactly how much snow makes). As for Aubin, I like this guy a lot, but he is still way to young to suggest he could carry a team to the cup. First of all, we don't even have any idea of what he will look like in a play-off game. Secondly, he seems out of the game, and out of the loop again with his injury. Again, it is nothing against Aubin, I really like him, and want him to remain with the Pens. I just feel goaltending is still a weakness given my above concerns.

Defense. Well, I think given the trades last season, we have made progress, and it does look better from the start of last season. First off, the younger guys that we have kept look better. Secondly, the additions of Laukkanen and Boughner last season were great and needed additions. So, what is the problem? As for the younger guys, I don't get not using Ference. I try my best to lay off the coaching staff stuff, as I know they surely know much more than I, however, Andy truely does look great out there everytime I see him. Sure he makes some mistakes, but give me a break... Like Trebil, Rozsival, and Jonsson don't? Even the vets make mistakes, they are only human :) Okay, back onto my point... Playing these younger guys are great, and IF our vets hold up, and don't end up on the IR at the end of the season, I don't see the defense as much of a problem.

I also should note though... Kasparaitis has picked up his game, which was needed with two of our key defensemen out. I liked Kasparaitis before, but now, he is turning into a favorite this season. He is really, really turning it up and looking terrific. If he stays like this all season long... Wow... Think about this... Slegr stepping it up(he will, he has every other season), Laukkanen and Boughner, Moran is going to come back, along with your pick of younger defensemen...

Again, just some concerns, and I wonder if anyone else is thinking about it. I mean, people are making us out to be contenders... ESPN is ranking us at number 3... The world in hockey has basically just done a back flip, and so have I :), but in reality, I never thought we had too many problems with scoring. Again, I am not saying I won't take him back.. lol, yeah right. I am just saying ... well... just saying.

Let's Go PENS!!!
- PMS66

NHL now thinks that Jagr is a cry-baby! -

I'll bet most people on this board are tired of this subject, but I'll play. Are you saying that anyone who does not share your interpretation of Jagr's quotes is confused? That's not a very productive way to solicit input. :)

That survey probably was influenced to a large degree by the national TV media. On Friday night Buccigross and Melrose each called Jagr a baby on NHL tonight, and the next night Don Cherry told all of Canada that he is a coach killer. So, hockey fans in both countries got an earful on Jagr's behavior. And you should remember that when a similar question was asked on this board a couple weeks ago, "Jagr is a big baby" was the second most popular answer (although that was not the answer I voted for).

As for my own opinions, I think Jagr is a perfectionist, a great competitor and also a very proud man. I'll continue this journey onto thin ice by speculating that he probably has not dealt a lot with self-doubt in his career and is now in unfamiliar territory. I also think, however, that Jagr is extremely emotional and wears his emotions on his sleeve (I would love to play poker against him). His open emotions give people the impression that he is a cry-baby, and that may not necessarily be true, but I'm here to tell you that I think some of that reputation IS deserved. I don't see a compelling alternative explanation for his antics on the bench during the Philly game.

You say that Jagr is a team player, and that his response to a reporter Friday night indicates that. Let's look at another quote from Jagr Friday night. During Saturday night's radio coverage, Steigy related a conversation he had with Jagr after the win in Buffalo the previous night. He asked Jagr if he thought Beranek had played a good game (led the team in shots and scored the game winning goal while playing on a new line). According to Steigy, Jagr said something like, "That's not for me to say. Go ask the coach." What's up with that? The Pens win a road game and a former 4th-liner makes a significant contribution, yet the captain, when given a great chance to compliment a teammate, goes out of his way not to. This is a team player and team leader? The entire national hockey media may be involved in a vast conspiracy to make Jagr look bad, but I doubt Steigy is involved - he has no reason to quote Jagr out of context.

And before the Jagr defenders tee off on me, I'll say once again that I am a Jagr fan and that I want to see him succeed. But I also am willing to concede that his behavior during this slump has been something less than mature. I've already admitted that I'm walking on thin ice by giving my assessment of Jagr's character. I'm not willing to make the jump to walking on water by saying that I know for a fact that he meant this or meant that when he did something or said something. This is just my interpretation and opinion, take it or leave it.
- Alaskan

Jagr & Standards... -

I wanted to get in on this. Yes, the team is winning. Sort of. 3 games over .500, and only 1 game over .500 at home --which is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. Still, it's a darned sight better than the last few years at this time. I'm certainly not fool enough to believe that we are doing this because of or in spite of Jagr. We have won some games in which he has been the luggage that his teammates have had to carry, and we have lost some games in which he gave the best he had. The results here have more to do with quality goaltending and the star emergence of Kovalev than anything else.

I strongly suspect that Jagr's offensive problems will melt into memories and that he will have no problem putting up the numbers we expect. Chances are, he will wear down opponents as the season goes on (much like Bettis wears down defenses), and as the more talented members of the injured list come back the whole team will improve. For the non-scoresheet stuff, though, this is the central question of the Penguins franchise for the rest of Jagr's career here. Can he be the lightning rod through whom all of the positive and negative energy flows? Can Jagr as a player be a synonym for the Penguins as a team?

Some possible answers:

Not as long as he moans when he doesn't get goals.
Only if his supporting cast holds up its end of the bargain.
He already is: the Pens are an overrated, one-dimensional squad with no desire to play a complete game.
He isn't and thus shouldn't be captain.
He isn't, but Cpl. Hlinka is, and that's ok too (see Keenan, Mike, circa 1987).
He is getting there but still doesn't know when to keep his emotions under wraps.
He is, but only for the skilled players.

Some or all of those statements may be true. To satisfy all of us, he will have to win the Cup ASAP. If that isn't good enough for some of you, then you need to question why you're spending time thinking about it. That's the only goal that matters.

For me, I'm highly worried that:
--we can't close the deal on a team like Carolina at home.
--Jagr associates scoring with winning in the regular season.
--The third line succeeds with a different team philosophy than the second line.
--Coaches and trainers don't get enough blame when a rash of injuries strikes a team the way it struck the Penguins D.

But I still can't wait to see the Pens playing in April, if that's what the hockey gods have in store.
- Padraic

Me on Jagr...

My 2 cents...

Under no circumstances whatsoever, should you openly have words with your coach within public view. An "animated" conversation hints of argument. Not animated agreement. It is simply not professional to let these displays be seen by the public and should not be condoned. As we all know, Jagr has been guilty of this more than once in the past.

If Jagr is disagreeing that vehemently with his coach this early in the season, CP or Mario needs to pull him aside and remind him who he works for. It simply should not be acceptable behaviour from such a high-profile player and captain.

If, as it appears, Jagr refused to go on the ice in the third, this is a sure sign of immaturity. But, we all truly know Jagr is still learning in that department. I, being at the game, did not have the luxury of announcers and color analysts. I simply thought they were keeping Jagr off the ice late in a game that we were dominating that may have gotten really ugly. I didn't know about the runway incident until this morning.

A twenty minute closed door meeting after the game with your coach also says there is a problem. As well as Jagr scrapping the coaches system for his own. Again, I say, Jagr needs to know his place. He needs to play the game and lead this team on the ice, not on the chalk board. That is what we have coaches for.

Remember, I'm a huge Jagr fan and have defended him more than a few times. But, there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. And, if jagr is truly battling our coach once again, I have to back the coach.

I truly hope Jagr is simply showing frustration at not being able to bury the puck. He has had inumerable chances this season so far and has tossed it right at the goalie every time. He should have nearly 30 goals already.

I also still insist that he has no quality linemates to work with. Our 2nd and 3rd lines are out-producing our top line by a mile anymore. And that's just not right. We need a top line capable of playing with Jagr. I don't know if Carter is the answer or not. But, I'd be willing to give it a try very soon and consider it a start. Watching Barnaby in the first period last night do nothing but get his arse kicked, I couldn't help but hope that the Boston scouts were watching him with a gleeful eye.
- Pitts

I come not to bury Kip Miller . . .

Yes, yes, we all know that I firmly believe Kip Miller to be the spawn of Satan himself, but I think there are a few things we might be missing here as we break out the garlic and strap an extra large piece of the true cross to our chest.

Of course, there are a lot of things that Kip Miller isn't. Kip Miller isn't tough. Nobody's ever going to accuse us of putting a Tony Twist out on the ice just to protect the best player in the world. Maybe we should, but it's not Kip Miller's fault he's soft like Twinkie filling.

Kip Miller is also not a playmaker. Granted, Kip Miller gets the puck to Jagr, but as we've all seen with Mario, just being on the ice with someone of that talent is going to get you points. Look, provided I stayed healthy and wasn't shipped to WB at any point, I could have a twenty point year on Jagr's line and I can hardly stand up on skates. Not everybody can be a true playmaker, why should we expect Kip Miller to be any different.

Kip Miller is also not a scorer. Yes, Kip can put the puck in the net, but at this level, 99% of the players can put the puck in the net at some point. Scorers are different, you have to know where they are on the ice at all times because when you lose them, they make you pay. Kip Miller isn't about to make you pay, but maybe he's about the greater glory. Maybe individual fame isn't his thing. Should he be derided for that?

Kip Miller is also no defensive stopper. There are offensive defensemen in this league for certain and Kip Miller is certainly not one of them.

However, Kip Miller does one thing. (Two things if you count looking good out there. Hey, I've seen the ratings for women's figure skating, I know how important that is, and Kippy definitely strikes me as a double toe-loop kind of guy). What Kip Miller does is he gets the puck to Jagr.

Sure, that's all he does, but as someone who watched Wayne Gretzky in his first few seasons in L.A. will tell you, that is really pretty important. All right, so if you can deny Jagr the puck you effectively eliminate Kip Miller from the ice. And, yes, putting a creamy, puffy, Kip Miller out on the ice with the likes of Jagr does invite the same punishment which has added up to missed playoff games for number 68. Still, Kip Miller does have a role on this team, it's one that makes Jagr happy at least in the short term, and that, as they say, is pretty much all she wrote.
- Karsh

Am I missing something here???

Ron Tugnutt did not lead the Pens to the playoffs. Jagr did.

This guy was not a lifelong Penguin; he was a hired gun that we got for the overrated Barrasso. He came in after being traded from a team where he was a very popular player, helped this club by playing his ass off, and then rode off into the sunset with his pockets lined with gold. We got in return everything due us. He owes nobody nothing. Besides, if anyone is to blame here, blame CP for not bellying up to the bar and throwing down the $10 million that it took for Columbus to sign him away. We cannot expect a player to give up his salary just to play for our great and wonderful team and not expect to pay market value. He has been underpaid for a long period of time, and if you were in his shoes, you too would follow the advice of your agent and sign on the line.

Before you all criticize him, remember that longtime Pittsburgh resident and Penguin "C" Ron Francis also went for the money. As did Popovic. And many others before them. It's the nature of the sports business. And sure, Ron may not have received an offer from Patrick, but Patrick knew that Ron was going to ask for more than the Pens could afford to pay.

I thank Tugnutt for doing a great job for the short time he was a Penguin, and wish him well in his career.
- Big McK

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