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In Rick Tocchet’s replacement, there’s a bit of role reversal. After the 1991 cup, the Pens traded Mark Recchi to the Flyers in a deal that brought Tocchet to Pittsburgh.
Now, Tocchet leaves, and Recchi replaces him on the bench, “It’s obviously a new challenge, but something, you know something I’m excited about, and it’s definitely you know, I think being around Sully a lot, being around the organization, it’s gonna be a seamless, a seamless fit, and hopefully I can come in there and just do a real good job.”

It’s now official. 53-year-old Rick Tocchet has left the Penguins to take over as the head coach of the Arizona Coyotes. Tocchet won a Cup as a player with the Pens in 1992. He won 2 more as an assistant coach the last 2 years. Now he returns to the Coyotes, where he spent three of his 18 seasons as a player. He was also an assistant coach there. In Pittsburgh, Tocchet was very valuable on Mike Sullivan’s bench, but Sullivan and the organization realize what a great opportunity this is, “I’m thrilled for Toch to get this opportunity, he’s so deserving of being a head coach again in this league. He’s a very qualified guy. He’s a hard worker. I know he’s gonna do a great job, so we’re all thrilled for him, and so I think that’s the biggest thing, the relationship that we’ve built over the years.”

Major League Baseball is taking a break for the Mid-Summer Classic. The Pirates only All-Star is Josh Harrison. This will be his 2nd time in the All-Star game, and Harrison’s ready to represent Pittsburgh, and the Black and Gold, “you know excited, you know words can’t really put into you know describe something that you never set out do but when you’re named, you appreciate it and you don’t take it for granted..everybody from all different teams it’s a good time…..to have fun and enjoy each other….you know crack on each other about different things that happened during the season…as far as what goes on there I’m just gonna be myself and let those guys know that I’m here to have fun that’s what I do.”

At PNC Park, the heroics from Wednesday’s incident on the Roberto Clemente Bridge by umpire John Tumpane is still a hot topic of conversation. Adam Frazier didn’t even hear about Tupane’s response until after Wednesday night’s game, but he appeared to be moved by it, “That’s a pretty impressive story…just happened right there behind the ballpark. That’s pretty crazy, and you never know what’s going on in people’s lives.”

Josh Bell reached a significant milestone in Wednesday night’s win by the Pirates. Bell hit his 15th home run, which ties Ralph Kiner’s team record for home runs by a rookie before the all-star break. It’s no surprise to manager Clint Hurdle, “he’s getting stronger, he’s stronger this year than he was last year. They learn about their swing. I think it’s experience more than anything, and him just getting some man strength, he’s still growing, he can do some things. That gets your attention, and the power is just starting to play for him.”

Red-hot Andrew McCutchen kept it going last night. Cutch singled and doubled in four at-bats.  His 2-run double in the 9th inning tied the game. All this after getting bumped up from 6 to 3 in the batting order, and that change was prompted when McCutchen reached out to Clint Hurdle on Monday. Hurdle was willing to listen, “I got a text from Andrew yesterday and picked up the phone and called him. We had a conversation. I think it was beneficial and therapeutic for him to hit in the 6th spot for over a month. I think he got to watch things develop in front of him. He got to watch other players hit, succeed and struggle. He feels confident and convicted that he can go back to the 3-spot and impact our offense.”

Marc-Andre Fleury is, of course, a fan favorite, so it was fitting that Fleury spent what will likely be his final night as a Penguin with the fans. Fleury signed autographs at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Cranberry. Many fans lined up early this morning for a chance to get the wristband necessary to get into the event. The fans were happy, and Flower was a bit overwhelmed with the attention, and the affection from the Pens faithful, “it’s very flattering you know. I heard there was a lot more waiting in line too. I know that’s crazy, didn’t expect that and I don’t know, it’s very touching.”

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby on going for the three-peat, “yeah I think that’s gotta be your mindset, you can’t go in there expecting anything different. Our expectations are always high. I think for all the guys who are going to be back that should be our goal.”

Today was the most open and emotional we’ve seen Marc-Andre Fleury as the Penguins cleaned out their lockers. Fleury is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, and played a pivotal role in the Penguins keeping the Stanley cup this season. He says Pittsburgh “feels like home,” and got a little choked up when talking about the nine wins he contributed on the Stanley Cup run, and how the fans cheered him on, “you knew things were going to change after this season for me and I had the chance to play here at home the support I got here it was fun to win, fun to play those games.”

 

Mini-camp continues for the Steelers, and the team announced today that it had come to terms with first-round draft pick TJ Watt. The linebacker gets a four-year rookie deal, and he told me he’s getting used to his new surroundings, “it’s a gorgeous city, every once in a while i’ll just get out and take drives, a lot of it reminds me of home with the trees and the grass. I like getting out getting out of the city, and coming into the city and seeing it, especially coming in through the tunnel, and seeing how gorgeous this city is and all it has to offer.”