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Penguins’ Fleury honors Pittsburgh Steelers with Stadium Series mask

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Marc-Andre Fleury will don this Steelers-inspired mask for a Stadium Series clash with the Blackhawks.

Marc-Andre Fleury will don a Steelers-inspired mask for a Stadium Series game. (Photo courtesy Stephane Bergeron)

By Allan Muir

Marc-Andre Fleury sure knows how to play up to Pittsburgh sports fans. The Penguins netminder drove them crazy by donning a Steelers helmet for some post-game shenanigans during that team’s most recent Super Bowl run. But now he’s prepared to take his support for the club to a whole new level.

When the Penguins visit Soldier Field this Saturday for a Stadium Series clash with the Blackhawks, Fleury will debut a one-off mask designed to mimic a Steelers helmet.

The mask was painted by Fleury’s long-time collaborator, Stephane Bergeron of Griff Airbrush.

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  • Published On Feb 25, 2014
  • Stroke sidelines Pittsburgh Penguins’ All-Star defenseman Kris Letang

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    Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins

    Kris Letang had complained of dizziness and nausea before his stroke was diagnosed. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    The Penguins have finally revealed the nature of the ailment that has sidelined Kris Letang for the past week … and it’s scary serious.

    The All-Star defenseman will miss at least the next six weeks after suffering a stroke. Letang will be treated with blood thinners and, at this point, it’s believed that his career is in jeopardy.

    “This can happen to anybody,” said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. “[Letang] is a pro athlete and one of the finest-tuned athletes we have. It’s scary.”

    After Letang complained of dizziness and nausea, doctors conducting tests discovered a small hole in the wall of his heart. The hole is present in all children at birth, but it typically closes up and seals over time. It didn’t in Letang’s case, and it’s possible that the hole is what led to his stroke.

    “Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week,” Penguins GM Ray Shero said. “We held him out of the Los Angeles game [last] Thursday night, and when he continued to feel ill, tests conducted in Phoenix on Saturday gave us the first indication of his condition. Further testing then was conducted when he returned to Pittsburgh, and he continued to undergo a battery of tests here this week.

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  • Published On Feb 07, 2014
  • Sidney Crosby on Ryan Miller: “It’s not something we talk about.”

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    Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby

    Friends and rivals Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby are linked by history. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    They’re linked together by two of the most iconic sporting moments of the past 10 years, but Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller have never discussed Canada’s 2010 Golden Goal or the shootout winner in the inaugural Winter Classic … even though the two men have become unlikely offseason training partners.

    “It’s not something I’ve ever really talked about with him,” Crosby said ahead of Wednesday night’s meeting between the Penguins and Sabres in Buffalo. “I’ve skated with him for a couple of summers now. He’s a good guy, works hard. He loves to play and loves to compete. As far as the situations we’ve been in, it’s not a hot discussion topic, but everybody tries to link those situations together.”

    Don’t expect the topics to arise if the two happen to bump into each other in the hallways of the First Niagara Center tonight, either.

    “It’s in the past,” Crosby said. “We’re days away from the Olympics in Russia. Maybe after our careers, it’s something we talk about. There are other things we both want to accomplish.”

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  • Published On Feb 05, 2014
  • Grading the NHL team Christmas videos

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins made a Christmas video for 2013

    Nothing says “happy holidays” quite like Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. (Penguins.nhl.com)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when your favorite NHL stars finally cave in to the pleadings from their teams’ PR departments and agree to abandon all dignity in the spirit of spreading a little holiday cheer.

    Yes, it’s time for the annual video Christmas cards that are sent, with love, to you, the fans. And this year offers a diverse and laugh-filled crop sure to bring years of embarrassment to the participants. Check ‘em out:

    Pittsburgh Penguins: Holiday Album

    The Bit: This one offers charmingly low-rent visuals and a great concept: a compilation album of re-imagined Christmas classics, including “Feliz Niskanen,” “Do Jussi What I See,” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Sidney Claus.”

    Highlight: Kris Letang channeling Fred Armisen channeling Lawrence Welk.

    Grade: A

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  • Published On Dec 18, 2013
  • Pittsburgh Penguins reveal jerseys for Stadium Series contest

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    By Allan Muir

    On March 1, the Pittsburgh Penguins will ditch the comfy confines of temperature-controlled indoor hockey for an old-fashioned battle with the elements, and the Blackhawks, at Chicago’s legendary Soldier Field.

    That game is still a ways off, but Christmas isn’t. So with less than two weeks of shopping to go, the Pens finally unveiled the last-minute gift every yinzer is adding to his wish list: Pittsburgh’s special Stadium Series sweater.

    Was it worth the wait? Yup.

    According to the team, the jersey was designed with creative input from the NHL and Reebok which, unlike Nike, doesn’t appear to be on a mission to make hockey players look ridiculous.

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  • Published On Dec 13, 2013
  • SHANABANNED! James Neal gets five games for knee to Marchand’s head

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    By Allan Muir

    The first suspension has come down after a series of violent events marred Saturday night’s game between Boston and Pittsburgh.

    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Monday suspended Penguins forward James Neal five games for kneeing Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head.

    The decision must have come as a huge surprise to Neal, who, after the game, claimed no ill intent. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that,” he said.

    But league safety czar Brendan Shanahan, displaying no evidence of having fallen off a turnip truck recently, wasn’t buying Neal’s golly-gee act.

    “With a clear view of Marchand and plenty of time to avoid him, Neal skates directly through Marchand’s head with his left knee,” Shanahan explains in the league’s suspension video. “This is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player. Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring contact is made with Marchand’s head.”

    A five-game suspension is the longest Neal could have received with a phone hearing, and the speed with which it was delivered suggests Shanahan didn’t see a lot of room for interpretation on the call.

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  • Published On Dec 09, 2013
  • Dallas Stars claim Dustin Jeffrey off waivers from Penguins

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    In 10 games with the Penguins this season, Dustin Jeffrey had one assist and nine shots. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    In 10 games with the Penguins this season, Dustin Jeffrey had one assist and nine shots. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Michael Blinn

    Dustin Jeffrey was a bit of an everything man and a nothing man for the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing anywhere from the top line to the fourth, even spending nights in the press box as the team treated him as a plug-and-play accessory.

    At times, he was dynamic, and others, invisible. In 100 career games with the Pens, the former sixth-round pick collected 15 goals and 28 points, including a 0-1-1 line in 10 contests this season. With Pittsburgh having a dearth of young, talented forwards, something had to give, and it was Jeffrey, who was placed on waivers this week, and claimed Sunday morning by the Dallas Stars.

    With the move to Dallas, Jeffrey finds himself on another young, talented team with much less of media scrutiny, and a coach with a history of getting a lot out of players in Lindy Ruff. The 25-year-old forward will be the latest in a new crop of players to join the Stars, including a renewed Tyler Seguin, budding power forward Jamie Benn and rookie forwards Valeri Nichuskin, Antoine Roussel, and Alex Chiasson.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2013
  • Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis pulls his own tooth out on the bench

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    By Michael Blinn

    It’s often said that hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world. Whether it’s playing on a broken leg, taking a puck to the face, or being on the receiving end of a bone-crushing hit, there’s plenty of evidence to back up that statement.

    Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis gave everyone another anecdote in a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday after being on the receiving end of teammate Kris Letang’s high stick to the mouth. While one would think he’d be off to the trainer’s room to get checked out and maybe have some quick work done, Dupuis decided to just get everything over with and pulled his own tooth, right there on the Pittsburgh bench.

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  • Published On Oct 30, 2013
  • Whiz kids Sean Monahan, Olli Maatta, Morgan Rielly staying in NHL

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    Center Sean Monahan will be staying with the Calgary Flames.

    If Flames center Sean Monahan, 19, sustains his hot start, he could be a Calder Trophy contender. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Sean Monahan made it easy on the Calgary Flames.

    The organization may have kept its expectations in check after drafting the promising two-way center sixth overall last June, but after watching the smooth transition he made to the NHL through his first nine games — highlighted by his team-leading six goals — there was no reason to return him to Ottawa of the OHL.

    And so, with the team’s 10th game coming up tonight in Dallas, the Flames made it official on Wednesday. The 19-year-old will stick in the NHL for now.

    The decision to employ junior-eligible players like Monahan past their ninth game isn’t always this simple. The long-term development of a player is of paramount importance, especially to a rebuilding franchise like the Flames. And just because a player starts hot (Monahan is among the league’s rookie leaders in points, with 10, and goals, 6), it doesn’t mean that the NHL is the ideal environment for him as a person. But Monahan proved himself up to the challenge, emerging as the team’s best forward on more nights than not and demonstrating his potential to handle the challenges that lie ahead. He earned his spot.

    MUIR: Progress reports for notable rebuilding teams

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  • Published On Oct 24, 2013
  • MacKinnon’s first glimpse of Crosby, Penguins comes on Monday night

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    Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon's freshman season is off to an excellent start, and he'll get a chance to learn from Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

    Nathan MacKinnon’s freshman season is off to a fast start, and he’ll soon learn more from Sidney Crosby. (Icon SMI)

    By Michael Blinn

    It’s already been a whirlwind of a season for Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon: the 18-year-old forward was selected first overall in the 2013 Draft, notched his first NHL goal, and is a leader in Colorado’s resurgence among the NHL’s tops teams.

    All this and it’s just eight games into the season.

    There’s plenty of hubbub and hoopla surround his ninth game on Monday night, when he’ll face off against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in in Pittsburgh. Crosby is pretty familiar with MacKinnon’s situation this season, as the fellow Nova Scotia native joined the Pens as the first overall pick in 2005 after a lockout season, expected to revitalize an ailing franchise.
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  • Published On Oct 21, 2013


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