Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pens acquire Moore and Pivko

More on this later......starting to look like Ray Shero can only swing deals with his former team. Welcome Mr. Eaton, Moore and Pivko!

Yours truly acquired Libor Pivko last week in a fantasy league....showing that I know at least as much as the Pens new GM!!! Just jokes Mr. Shero....

Big update to come later this week. "What the Pens Haven't Done In Free Agency" among other things. Please check back soon!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pens Hire Chuck Fletcher - Asst. GM

Ray Shero finally got around to hiring the Assistant General Manager that he wanted. He announced the hiring of Chuck Fletcher Friday afternoon. Fletcher has 13 years experience in hockey management with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks. He has been heavily involved with player development, scouting, managing hockey operations, negotiating contracts etc.

“Chuck grew up in hockey and has gained a tremendous amount of NHL management experience at a young age,” Shero said. “He will bring a fresh, dynamic perspective to our organization, and I look forward to working closely with him to build the Penguins into a championship team.” *

Fletcher will work closely with Shero on all hockey related matters, and will be heavily involved with the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins, the Pittsburgh AHL affiliate.

* Quote from the official Pittsburgh Penguins site.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Morozov Too Pricey

Word is that Aleksey Morozov is too pricey for General Manager Ray Shero. Shero said that he did have a conversation with Jay Grossman, Morozov's representative, at the June 25 entry draft in Vancouver, but that his asking price is just too high. Morozov, who has been playing at a Super Star level in the Russian Super League and is the league's reigning MVP, is believed to be seeking at least $3,000,000 per season. He does have a 3 year deal signed with Ak Bars Kazan in Russia, if he doesn't find work in the NHL.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thoughts on Mike Lange

In the days leading up to the free agency period, one of the biggest hockey stories in Pittsburgh wasn't so much who the team would sign on July 1st, as much as who wouldn't be back in the broadcast booth for them. The local TV rights for the Pittsburgh Penguins are held by Fox Sports Pittsburgh, they also decide who the play by play/color commentator is going to be and they shocked the area by not re-signing Hall of Fame announcer Mike Lange.

For many in Pittsburgh, most of their Penguin memories and favorite moments go hand and hand with memories of Mike Lange. Lange, who is known across the hockey world, for his colorful goal calls brought something to the table that just wasn't always there with your run of the mill announcer. Mike Lange had a way of making every goal feel like it was special. His calls always suited the player. If Mario Lemieux would cash in, he had a certain clean delivery signifying a beautiful goal by some one you expect to score, and if a mucker and grinder such as Phil Bourque would score he had this guttural bark in the way he delivered the players name.

In situations where something shocking would happen, Lange may have been "Cow Kicked." If a player just broke a long scoring drought, he was "Smiling like a butcher's dog." He was always willing to "Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one too" or to "Hunt Moose on a Harley." You were always able to tell when the Penguins had chalked up another victory, because "Elvis had just left the building." He also had a word for the senior citizens of the area: "Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll."

He always brought some of Pittsburgh to the Penguins and whoever was watching the game, as evidenced by how he quickly nicknamed Joey Mullen: Slippery Rock Joe and "Called Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick!" He always mentioned the Parkway, or picking pockets on 5th Avenue.

Mike Lange made it tough for me to watch just any other hockey game. I just couldn't bear to listen to other announcers, of course I learned to accept them, but it wasn't like Mike. There have been times in the past where the team had gone other directions with the announcing teams, but ultimately it always came back to Mike Lange, who was as much a part of the team as the players. I will never forget the first time I heard him yell out: "The Penguins have won the Stanley Cup" or a year later when he bellowed "Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, give me the Brandy."

He would begin each broadcast, home or away, with: "It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh!" Not hearing that will be sorely missed and to some extent, it just won't feel like a hockey night. At least not the same as it has for the last 30 years. Mike Lange has been in the booth longer than I have been able to comprehend the game and was an integral part of my falling in love with the game over the past 23 years

Former Penguin coach Bob Johnson, once said "It's a great day for hockey," well Pittsburgh and it's fans will always remember June 30, 2006 as a sad day for the game. Mike Lange has been offered the Radio job by the team, since they hold the rights to the broadcasts, but he has not made any decision as of yet. Lange's long time partner and current radio play by play man, Paul Steigerwald, will take over the television duties.

Thanks for the memories Mike Lange! You will be missed by Penguin fans everywhere....hope to hear you in the future.

To voice an opinion on this decision, email this man. Steve Tello, GM over at Fox Sports Pittsburgh:

Pens Ink Two, Name Assistant Coach

The Penguins signed 2 players over the last 3 days. They made their first trip into the open seas of Free Agency by signing veteran defenseman Mark Eaton. Eaton, who played the past 5 seasons with Nashville, is 6' 2" 212 lbs. When he broke into the league, he was more of an offensive player, but has concentrated on his defensive game recently. Eaton led the Preds with 170 blocked shots last year and averaged 5 minutes and 22 seconds of short handed time last season. He should bolster their penalty killing unit, a unit that was scored on regularly last season.

General Manager Ray Shero then signed the feisty Jarrko Ruutu away from the Vancouver Canucks. The 6' 2" 195 lb forward can play either wing and is known for his agitating style of play. Ruutu has been known to take a few too many penalties, but Shero seems to think that he will draw for more than he takes. The team is hoping that he can play a slightly bigger role than he did in Vancouver. He does have a scoring touch, one that former Canuck's coach Marc Crawford had used in shoot-outs last season. Ruutu will most likely match up against the top forwards on opposing teams but Shero will not pigeonhole him as just a role player. Most opinions seem to agree that he is one of the best agitators in the game and should make the Penguins a lot tougher to play against.

The Penguins also have named their new assistant coach, Andre Savard. He was currently the assistant GM in Montreal, and was formerly the GM of the Canadians that fired current Penguins coach Michel Therrien. Not sure if this will cause any problems in the Penguins coaching ranks, but it doesn't seem to be an issue at this time. Savard is looked at as a shrewd evaluator of talent and a great hockey mind. He should be a big time asset to the Pittsburgh Penguins. GM Ray Shero spent some time working with him with the Ottawa Senators.