The NHL trade deadline is next Wednesday, and there are with lots of questions about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future. In an interview for Channel 11’s pregame show for the Saturday night Stadium Series game, Pens General Manager Jim Rutherford made some very interesting observations about Fleury and the situation, “my preference is he stays here. I don’t know what the circumstances will be between now and the deadline, and as we speak, I frankly don’t know how he feels. I am going to meet with him in the next day or two, and get a sense of where he’s at, and try to weigh what he wants and what is best for the team. I haven’t shopped mark like I would a player I want to move on from. I’ve certainly listened to other teams that have poked around a little bit. No one has made an offer on Marc.”
The Penguins are on the road at Carolina tomorrow night, and this might be a good time to pace themselves. From a scheduling standpoint, this is a challenging time of the year for the Pens. They had a stretch of three games in four days, and for 4 days out of six. Plain and simple, they looked a bit flat on Sunday in a loss to the Red Wings, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference. Head coach Mike Sullivan is pressing on, “we have to find ways to have success through the process so…I don’t look to those excuses. I don’t think any of us look to those excuses. We’re looking for solutions out there…we’ve gotta find ways to be successful through these types of challenges in our schedule.”
Last season, starting pitching was struggle for the Pirates. This year, there’s some stability in the rotation. Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova and Chad Kuhl look to have spots locked down, and according to manager Clint Hurdle, the experience and adversity they had last season will serve them well this season, “these guys, it’s gonna be a first full season in the major leagues, possibly for Kuhl, possibly for Jameson. Cole’s healthy so all of them have different agendas walking into the season, however collectively together, I do think they draw a lot of energy off of one another.”
“We have been staying in close contact with Jung Ho, his representatives and his counsel throughout the process. All have been extremely forthcoming and diligent in their efforts to resolve matters in Korea so that Jung Ho can return in time to participate in the Club’s preparation for the 2017 season.
Based on our current information, Jung Ho will not be in a position to report to camp by the 17th. According to our communications with his representatives, it is probable that he will have a trial in Korea on the DUI-related charges on February 22. It is not known how long the trial will last or when any sentencing phase that might be necessary would be scheduled.
We will continue to do whatever we can to assist he and his representatives in their efforts to resolve all necessary matters so that Jung Ho will be able to travel to the United States to prepare for and to play in the 2017 season, but his reporting date remains undetermined.
We will provide additional information when we receive further clarity on Jung Ho’s ability to report to the Club.”
It’s time! Pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton today for spring training. Of course the talk of training camp is the change in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen moving to right field. Team president Frank Coonelly talked about the change, and how McCutchen is handling it, “we talked to Andrew. We talked to all of the outfielders, and said we believe this is the best alignment for our organization, and Andrew bought in immediately, and he said he wants to do what’s best for the organization. A real selfless act by a superstar player. It’s refreshing, but it’s nothing new with Andrew McCutchen. He’s been a class act his entire career.”
Bill Russell, who turned 83 today, is among the greatest champions of all-time in any sport. He won back-to-back national championship at the university of San Francisco.
Then he won 11 NBA titles in his 13 years as the centerpiece of the great Celtics dynasty. Russell also won Olympic gold. Russell’s one of only seven players in history to win an NCAA championship, an NBA championship, plus an Olympic gold medal.
The Penguins aren’t alone on this road trip. Head coach Mike Sullivan said today there are 25 coaches in the stands and that hopefully they’ll listen to the ones in the locker room. It’s the annual “Dads Trip.” Today the dads got to tour the Coors factory in Denver, and they took time to pose for some pictures as they get ready to see their sons take the ice. It’s a trip that’s very special to the players, including Sidney Crosby, “it’s a lot of fun to see the similarities between the father and sons, I think just having them around though it brings you back to the days of spending minor hockey tournaments together and traveling with them.”
The Penguins are on the road for a pair of games in the next 3 days. They’ll be in Colorado and Arizona, and there’s some mixed injury news. Evgeni Malkin is making the trip with the team. He practiced with the team today with ‘limited’ contact as he recovers from a lower-body injury. Mike Sullivan provided this update: “we’re trying to slowly introduce him back into the battles to make sure we give him the best chance to recover the right way so he’s making progress that’s encouraging. We’ll take it day to day.” Meanwhile, tougher news for Carl Hagelin. He was not able to skate with the team today as he recovers from a concussion. Hagelin did not go with the team to Colorado, but they left the door open for the option that he could meet the team in Arizona.
Sidney Crosby was recently named to the NHL’s list of the “Greatest 100 Players” as part of the league’s centennial season. Evgeni Malkin, who practiced again today wearing a non-contact jersey, was not on that list. Malkin had reporters in stitches when he joked about that snub, “maybe I win a couple more trophies, a couple more Stanley Cups, and maybe next year is NHL’s one-hundred-and-one year, and maybe they send me a great black jacket, and maybe I’ll be number one-hundred-and-one.”