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Friday, September 30, 2016

Canada Wins #WCH2016, Crosby Adds To Trophy Case

12:30:00 PM 0
It looked like a third, deciding game was in the cards for the World Cup of Hockey.  And then Canada happened.

Captain Crosby Captures Cup with Canada

Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Canada Captain Sidney Crosby added a World Cup Championship and a World Cup MVP to his trophy case as Canada defeated Team Europe 2-1.

In game two of the World Cup Finals, Canada defeated Team Europe coming from behind with 2:53 left in the game. Crosby made a perfect pass off the boards to defenseman Brent Burns who gave it a one-time snap shot which ended up deflected by Patrice Bergeron and in the back of the net. That assist lead to the game being tied at one.
None other than Brad Marchand scored the World Cup clinching goal with 43.1 seconds remaining. 

Canada took the series two games to none and the captain was the first to lift the trophy. He also ended up lifting an MVP trophy as well.

Team Canada scored a total of 24 goals during the tournament. Crosby finished with 10 points which is good for making a mark on 41.7% of Canada's goals in the World Cup.

Monika Platek - Twiter -  CBC Sports

In 2016 alone, Sidney Crosby has won a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, a World Cup, a World Cup MVP, NHL First Team All-Star and and Emmy. Not bad. 
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Pens Beat Chicago, Roster Cuts

9:00:00 AM 0

On Wednesday, September 28th, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 decision, for their first win of the preseason. This makes the the Pens 1-1-0 on the preseason.

Chris Kunitz scored the only two goals in the 3rd period, while Trevor Daley, David Warsofsky, Josh Archibald and Eric Fehr added an assist each. Tristan Jarry made 30 saves for the shutout, including this nasty glove save:

The day after, the Pens made some cuts to the training camp roster. These included forwards Tom Kostopolous, Milos Bubela, Gage Quinney, Jarrett Burton, Christian Hilbrich, and Reid Gardiner as well as defensemen Barry Goers, Michael Webster, and Ryan Segalla. They will all be assigned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins training camp.

Milos Bubela, Gage Quinney, and Reid Gardiner are all on amateur try-out contracts, according to Seth Lakso.

Players that weren't in the lineup during the Stanley Cup Playoffs from last season include: forwards Jake Guentzel, Dominik Simon, Teddy Blueger, Josh Archibald, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Kevin Porter, Thomas Di Pauli, Sahir Gill, Ryan Haggerty, Adam Krause, Carter Rowney, Tom Sestito, Garrett Wilson and Scott Wilson; defensemen Lukas Bengtsson, Ethan Prow, Tim Erixon, Cameron Gaunce, Reid McNeill, Steve Oleksy, Stuart Percy, David Warsofsky, Chad Ruhwedel; and goaltenders Doug Carr, Leland Irving, Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith.

The Penguins host the Blackhawks tonight for their first home game of the preseason.

Thanks for reading!
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Penguins' Wilson Looking to Reclaim Lineup Spot by @JonRudder

12:05:00 PM 0

In a crowded pool, it can be difficult to make a splash.

But that’s precisely the position that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Scott Wilson finds himself in. Wilson is on the road to recovery after an injury derailed his 2015-16 campaign. What remains to be seen, is if that road leads him back into the Penguins lineup.

Now fully healed from that ankle injury that caused him to miss the final three months of last season, Wilson is ready to claim what is rightfully his.

“I think (the goal) is just get back to where I was before my injury. I was playing good hockey, playing simple just like I said.,” Wilson told the Penguins’ Sam Kasan. “That’s my main go is just try and get back to that level.”

A forgotten man during the Penguins Stanley Cup run, Wilson was actually one of the first Penguins tapped for a call-up from Wilkes-Barre. At the time of his call-up, he led the American Hockey League with 22 goals.

“I’m not the biggest guy but I like to be physical. If someone gets me the puck I like to shoot the puck as well,” Wilson told Josh Getzoff of the Penguins Radio Network. “I think just playing simple, not overthinking it and just trying to get back to where I was right before I got hurt there.”

Wilson showed he belonged and displayed a developing adoring touch with goals in three straight games.

“I started to feel really good, that was probably the hardest part was being on a little bit of a run there, getting some goals and playing really well,” he continued.

But Wilson isn’t the only young forward looking for a permanent home in the Penguins lineup. Despite signing a one-way contract, it doesn’t come with the guarantee of a roster spot.

Connor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Brian Rust are all vying for ice time as well. Coming off of a post-season where each made notable contributions, they’ve become intricate pieces to the Penguins puzzle.

A puzzle that appeared to have many holes just one year ago.

Aside from watching his teammates contribute to a Stanley Cup run, Wilson may actually benefit from his injury in one key way his teammates won't: rest.

“I think, you know, with the injury for me, I had a little more time than most of these guys so I tried to take advantage of that,” Wilson continued to Getzoff. “That run there was something special and you think about it the whole summer but now it’s time to hopefully go after it again.”

Now skating for several months, the 5’11” native of Oakville, Ontario revealed to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette just how close he was to returning to the lineup during that run.

“I think coming in early with all the guys, getting some skates in helps a lot too. It’s nice to get the first little workout in and a scrimmage and a little hard skate at the end to kind of loosen things up a little.”

While he's yet to score in 20:36 of ice time against the Detroit Red Wings, he did tally once in a scrimmage. With month's of rest and rehab behind him, he's keen on picking up where he left off.

"I think it’s tough when you’re watching; you always want to be out there. You know, injuries are the worst part of this game so anytime you’re watching form above it’s tough" Wilson said. "I haven’t felt this good I my career so I’m just excited to get going.
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Mike Sullivan and his Lucky Brew

9:00:00 AM 1
Hockey players and coaches are a superstitious lot.  If you need convincing, ask Sidney Crosby.  He'll tell you after his half hour long pre-game routine is done.  Mike Sullivan and the Penguins coaching staff are no different with credit for their Stanley Cup win going to one lucky beer.

The story comes from 21st Amendment Brewery out of San Francisco and you don't have to be 21 to read it.

The story starts as a member of the Penguins coaching staff, unnamed, is out and about in San Jose during games 3 and 4 of the Cup Final.  While at a store before game 4 they see one of 21st Amendment's suds named simply "El Sully."  They picked it up for the staff:

(the coach) thought it was a “sign” given the Penguins’ head coach is Mike Sullivan or “Sully” as they call him – so he bought a pack. The coaching staff enjoyed a celebratory cheers with the beer before Game 4, and the Penguins won against the Sharks and were headed back to Pittsburgh with a lead in the overall series. The Pens lost the next game at home and when the team returned to San Jose for Game 6 the superstition of sports brought the coach back to the same store where he stocked up on El Sully. The coaches once again enjoyed a celebratory cheers before the game and that night the Pens won The Stanley Cup.

Indeed you can see a can of El Sully in Mike Sullivan's hand post Game 6 win in a screen cap from Showtime's Quest for the Cup.  Special thanks to "Slick, Arnold" from hfboards for the picture.

The story of El Sully doesn't end there, however.

Following the season win, as hockey tradition goes, each player and coach has a day with The Cup. Mike “Sully’s” day was Aug. 4th and as his family was planning his hometown celebrations in Boston, his daughter reached out to the 21st Amendment wondering if it would be possible to get cans of El Sully for the party. Little did they know the beer is actually available in their local stores, but it transpired from there into something so much better, and on Aug. 4, 21A’s Sully (Shaun O’Sullivan, our Brewmaster and co-Founder) traveled to Boston to hand-deliver Sully to Sully.

Shaun of 21st Amend, Mike Sullivan, Shaun's son

Shaun O'Sullivan was overwhelmed by the attention his beer was getting for many reasons.  "I’ve been involved in this industry for 22 years and I have experienced a lot of pretty amazing things, but being part of that day was something extra special. Standing on that stage with Mike telling our “Sully Story,” then watching the video on his team’s journey to The Cup afterwards, and seeing how everyone responded, it was just incredible."

There was also the unexpected Pittsburgh tie to the entire thing, bringing it full circle and making it seem kismet, meant to be, a fantastic sign that it was written in the stars.

The story’s added layer is that Shaun’s mother and father were born, raised and married in Pittsburgh. He still has family there and they couldn’t be more thrilled with what took place with the Penguins. “To have my namesake beer associated with their hometown hockey team making sports history is truly once-in-a-lifetime,” O’Sullivan added.

To read the full El Sully/Sully story go to 21st Amendment's website here.  And if you can find some El Sully, pick up a sixer (21 and older please) and thank them for a wonderful right.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Crosby Assists Canada's 1-0 #WCH2016 Finals Lead

12:30:00 PM 0
The World Cup Finals best-of-three series began last night as Team Canada took on Team Europe and oh captain our captain led the way.

Crosby Keeps Killing Em

In a match that saw Team Europe's assembled stars look like the better team at times over Team Canada's variable top notch all star team, it was Sidney Crosby who once again showed why he was the best player in all of hockey without debate.

Team Canada opened scoring with a Brad Marchand goal, secondary assist going to none other than Sidney Crosby, just over two minutes in to the game:

Steven Stamkos added his first goal of the tournament in the last five minutes of the 1st period:

In the second period Team Europe finally capitalized on what had been to that point a stronger effort and push that saw them leading in shots on goal (Canada would later win that battle 38-33).  Tomas Tatar started what Team Europe had hoped would be the beginning of their scoring, and probably would have been without Carey Price:

The third period evened out a bit, with Team Canada playing with a bit more urgency and push.  It was then that Crosby registered the primary assist on the third and final Team Canada goal with just over nine minutes left to play:

Sidney Crosby continues to lead the tournament with nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in seven games.  He's pretty good.

Team Europe did their best to tie the game up but in the end Team Canada came out on top, winning 3-1 and taking a 1-0 series lead.

Other Notes

Game 2 of the best-of-3 series takes place Thursday night, 8:00pm on ESPN2.  Canada can win the 2016 World Cup of Hockey with a win.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016


12:30:00 PM 1

This is from our new friend Alissa Marie. She makes all kind of Pens videos and I am jealous of her talent. You can see them all on her YouTube Channel >> HERE They are all brilliant and will give you goosebumps. This video is entitled "GET IN THE FAST LANE" and if this doesn't make you want to Kool-Aid Man though a wall for this upcoming season; nothing will.

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Marc-Andre Fleury Needs To Stick Around

9:00:00 AM 0

(editor's note: This comes from our new friend Mike Robinson. Mike has written for MileHighSports, and previously. He is looking to join the PensInitiative family and offered this great zesty take on the MAF situation)

It wasn’t so long ago that Marc-Andre Fleury was one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL. It feels like an eternity ago, but there was a time when Fleury was a 25-year-old coming off of a Stanley Cup victory, ready to take the league by storm.

As he battled through the 2007 and the 2008 postseasons, Fleury led the league in playoff wins, saves and minutes, getting the ring in that second stint. In the seven subsequent seasons, Fleury never seemed to take that next step while at the same time remaining a solid goalie. Besides a shortened 2012-13 season, he never won fewer than 34 games nor had a goals-against average worse than 2.40 after that championship defense season.

And yet, from 2007 through last season, Fleury recorded 69 ‘Really Bad Starts’, a stat developed by Rob Vollman to count how often a goalie lays a figurative egg. Vollman began counting RBS in that 2007-08 season, and Fleury is tied for second among all goaltenders in most bad starts (in which he gave his team less than a 10 percent chance of winning the game). Only Steve Mason has been worse more often since the stat came into existence.

But with the bad came good as well. Fleury led the NHL in shutouts in 2014-15. He was the Penguins’ guy in goal up until injuries sidelined him and forced rookie Matt Murray into goal last year. At that point, Murray took the job and ran with it, putting together a simply magical beginning to his career that continued through Pittsburgh’s playoff run.

Now instead of Fleury preparing for a new year, he isn’t quite sure he has a job or even a home. Rumors had it that the Penguins were shopping him around the league, looking for a trade offer for the goalie with three years at $5.75 million per season still remaining on his deal. How could the team justify paying that for a backup goaltender when a much younger and cheaper player proved he is capable of starting everyday?

But it would be wrong for Pittsburgh to trade away Fleury. They need to hang onto him for a couple of reasons. First, Murray played well in his opportunities, but those chances have not been numerous, and he has already proven susceptible to injury himself. He has just 13 career regular-season starts. The 22-year-old has more playoff starts than regular-season starts in his brief career. No one is sure if he can handle a full 82-game NHL season and the 60+ starts that come with a starting goalie job.

He also didn’t make it healthy through the 30-odd games he played last season. Murray went down in the postseason, which allowed for a brief Marc-Andre sighting for a game and a half. And now, during the World Cup of Hockey, Murray hurt himself again, suffering a hand injury that forced him to the bench.

Besides uncertainty in Murray’s long-term viability, there is also the issue of his actual NHL ceiling. Is this kid really this good? It couldn’t hurt to have a backup plan if the answer is no. It will also do him good to have Fleury in camp to battle with for the starting position in the first place. There is no guarantee Murray will win out. Perhaps Fleury proves himself the best goalie on the team by opening night or, more likely, the two split starts for quite a while as Murray builds his endurance and Fleury proves his mettle.

Pens fans may want the team to send Fleury packing because of his past struggles and large contract, but that contract makes him hard to deal. He also has a limited no-trade clause, which will somewhat impede a move. Memories are short in the sports world, but it is worth letting Fleury stick around and help this team this season. 
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Monday, September 26, 2016

New Season, New Goals: The Transformation of Derrick Pouliot by @Puck_Princess17

3:23:00 PM 0
What a difference just a few months can make!
When asked how he spent his offseason, Derrick Pouliot made it well known that he only spent a week at home (in Saskatchewan) before heading to Toronto to work with Gary Roberts. Gary Roberts, a former Penguin, has his own training center devoted to strength, skill building, and teaching proper nutrition to be at your best competitive level.

When training camp opened last Friday, the transformation was all many people on social media could talk about.

It was obvious that Pouliot has dropped a significant amount of weight. He had better color in his skin, a thinner face (he had been known for having chipmunk cheeks) and more jump in his step as he skated out onto the ice.

In front of new eyes, Derrick Pouliot has to have the camp of his (short) career if he is to hold onto any hope of staying with the team. After an abysmal start to the 2015-2016 training camp and an inconsistent season, Pouliot seems to now understand that his future lies only in his hands.

"I'm just trying to be a better professional..." 
he told Michelle Crechiolo of Pens Inside Scoop.

This transformation not only shows Pouliot's determination but an initiative to better his physical play and overall performance in order to challenge for a roster spot. He has come into this year's camp with a new confidence and more energy from experiencing the thrill of a Stanley Cup run first hand. Maybe it's the realization that one wrong move could see him packing his bags for Vegas...or Winnipeg? (the Jet's are said to be shopping for a young defenseman as part of a package deal for Jacob Trouba).

When asked where he would like to improve, Pouliot said that he would like to be good/better in his own zone and play an all around consistent game. He would also like to create offense and contribute offensively more as well, something he was unable to do when called upon twice in the post season.

One area that has improved was his skating. Pouliot was always known for his speed but he now seems more agile and fluid on the ice. And yes, he even seems faster, something that will work to his advantage when trying to work back into the Penguins new "speedy" system.

When Head Coach Mike Sullivan got back to Pittsburgh from his (short) stint as the assistant coach on team USA in the World Cup of Hockey, he was asked what he thought of Pouliot;s new physique.
"He looks terrific. He is a determined guy and that's great for us. We have high expectations for Derrick"
And what are those expectations?
"Our expectation is Derrick steps up and brings his game to another level because we know he is going to help us win this year".
Heavy words from a no-nonsense coach. How much confidence does the head coach have this 22 year old defensemen with a new mind set? Could he really challenge veteran Ian Cole or even Justin Schultz for a roster spot come regular season? Writers, analysts, commentators, and twitter warriors have all made reference to how much potential Derrick Pouliot has but has yet to really show it. Will he "show out" with the first preseason game just a day away? All these questions and more will soon be answered as the days draw closer to the regular season and the final list of NHL roster players is announced.

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Europe Stuns Sweden, Advances to #WCH2016 Finals

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One team would remind by the end of Sunday's final World Cup of Hockey semi-final match with the winner going on to play Team Canada.  It wasn't who everyone expected.

Bet on the Vets

The odds were against Team Europe.  A cobbled together team of misfit toys from all over the continent of Europe.  Switzerland, Germany, France, Demark, Slovakia, Norway, Slovenia, and Austria all brought together their best players, largely weathered veterans, with the hopes of being able to hope to form some cohesive system on short notice.  They were, essentially, the polar opposite of Team North America.

They were going against the reigning silver medalists.  A team with a lengthy history of winning world championships.  A team with the King, the twins, and two of the Penguins more prolific scorers (Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist).  A team favored only behind Canada to win the World Cup.

And Europe stunned them.

Going punch for punch with the established giant, Team Europe forced overtime.  Sweden started hot with a goal Nicklas Backstrom before Europe countered with two goals coming from Marian Gaborik and Tomas Tatar.  Erik Karlsson punched back with a game tying goal with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

It brought us the first overtime match of the World Cup of Hockey.  Using the same rules of NHL overtime, it could have been a long day.  Instead Tomas Tatar struck again.

Sweden was done.  Europe advanced.  Now there were two.

Other Notes

It comes down to a Best of Three format for the title.  Team Canada will take on Team Europe starting Tuesday at 8:00pm EST on ESPN.  Game two will take place Thursday at 8:00pm EST on ESPN2.  If necessary game three will be Saturday at 7:00pm EST on ESPN2.
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Counting on Kostopoulos: Veteran Captain Will Be Key to AHL Success by @jfoo1654

9:30:00 AM 0
Captain TK is coming off of his most productive season since '04-'05 (19G-33A-52Pts)
Following the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' devastating Game 7 overtime loss at the Giant Center to end last season, Captain Tom Kostopoulos wasn't sure if it would be the last time he laced up the skates as a professional. He gave the same answer that he gave after each of the last two seasons ended, "I'm going to go home, talk to the family, see how the body feels and then we will make the best decision for the family." Maybe TK wasn't sure if he had another year in him, but his teammates and his Head Coach Clark Donatelli made it perfectly clear that they wanted their Captain back for another run at the only thing missing from his resume; The Calder Cup.

Circa 2001

Three weeks later when he signed another one-year AHL deal with WBS, everyone from the fans to the front office was thrilled to have #29 back for one more run. Why? Easy, every young player to put on the WBS sweater over the last 3 seasons credits Kostopoulos for teaching them how to act and play like professionals. He is the unquestioned leader on and off of the ice, and is the face of the franchise, owning just about every offensive team record in existence. Beyond the leadership role, at the age of 37 he had his most productive AHL season since the 04-05 campaign by notching 19 Goals, and 33 assists for a total of 52 Points. Maybe the most amazing fact about his outstanding season was that he added 12 Points in just 10 playoff games, playing his best hockey of the season when it mattered most. Did I mention that he played almost the entire season on a stress fracture in his foot suffered in November? Despite scattered reports that he might miss a bit of time due to the injury, he played the next night and no one heard about the foot again. That my friends, is leadership at it's finest.

12 Pts in 10 Playoff Games, he showed no signs of a letdown

As someone who has watched Tom Kostopoulos play since the early 2000's, I cannot express just what a pleasure it has been. To watch him go out and lay his body on the line night after night, at the age of 37, is flat out inspiring. Imagine the energy his teammates must get from playing alongside him, if he can sacrifice for the team, then no one has an excuse. As long as TK is the Captain in Wilkes-Barre, the effort of this hockey team will never be questioned, he simply won't allow it. He defends his fellow penguins at all costs, he never waits for anyone else to send the message. This is his team, and he makes sure that no opponent takes a liberty without knowing that they will have to deal with him. He isn't a rah-rah guy, that's not his deal. Tom Kostopoulos let's his actions and his play do the talking for him.

TK led WBS to a huge upset in RD.1 and nearly stunned Hershey in RD.2

So before this season gets underway I want to remind all Pens fans to appreciate the Captain. All great players are honored when there playing days are over, but I say let's honor him now, during what may very well be his swan song. While the expectations are once again high for WBS, and a Cup would be the best way to send #29 off into the sunset, show him what makes this town special, win or lose. Tom Kostopoulos and the city of Wilkes-Barre have shared a special connection, it is rare for a professional hockey player to spend so much time in one minor league town. TK chose to come back here to finish his career, in doing so, he honored the city. Now it's Wilkes-Barre's turn to show just how much love they have for him. Here's to hoping for a special season for a special player. I first saw him play as a 13 year old fan and he earned my admiration after that first night back in 2001. Now at 28 and covering the team for Pens Initiative, I still enjoy watching him do his work, and admire him just the same. Probably More.

Thanks to everyone for reading, I always appreciate the support! I will be covering WBS Training Camp daily beginning Oct.1 from Coal Street. Follow updates on twitter @jfoo1654 and @pensinitiative.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

And the Emmy goes to....Sidney Crosby by @Puck_Princess17

4:00:00 PM 0
With now eleven years in the NHL, we are all aware that there is almost nothing Sidney Crosby can't do. He has won the Stanley Cup (twice) and just about every other individual award the National Hockey League can bestow upon one player. Let's not forget the ESPY Awards and all the other achievements/awards from outside the NHL. Sidney Crosby has even been immortalized on a Canadian Postage Stamp and if we lived in the fictional world of Harry Potter, I am pretty sure Sid the (grown up) Kid would break the record for winning Witch Weekly's "Most Charming Smile". What more is there to win for one of the most decorated hockey players of the 21st century?

How about an Emmy?

Yes, that was read correctly. An Emmy. The award for excellence in the television industry. You can read more about it here.

No, an Emmy was not awarded to Sidney Crosby for a single hockey game. That would be too easy and good luck choosing just one to honor. This Emmy was won for Sid's starring role in "There's No Place Like Home with Sidney Crosby". The program was produced by the Penguins and was awarded in the "Sports Program One-Time Special" category by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-Atlantic chapter. 

Stanley Cup's. Conn Smyth. Hart Memorial Trophy's. Art Ross Trophy's. Ted Lindsey Award's. The list goes on and on and on and now Sidney Crosby can add an Emmy to the trophy case. What is next for our fearless leader? Another Stanley Cup? More Espy Awards? A Teen Choice Award? Or should be just quit hockey all together and go for the Oscar? 

Whatever is next for Sidney Crosby, we can all be glad that he is a Pittsburgh Penguin above all. 
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Sid Leads Canada to #WCH2016 Finals

2:11:00 PM 0
The round robin is over and the teams are down to four heading in to Saturday's semifinal action.  Canada and Russia played and one team went home.

Captain Crosby, Canada Cruise

There was a scare for all of 90 seconds for Canada.  Russia took a lead in the 2nd, after successive goals, and there was wonder, "Is Canada coming undone?"  Russia was matching skill with Canada to the best of their abilities while Sergei Bobrovsky stood on his head and for a while you wondered if Canada had met its match.

Instead Canada surged when it mattered most, taking over the game and scoring four straight goals en route to a 5-3 win that saw Alex Ovechkin suffocated all evening, registering only one shot on over 20 minutes of ice time.

On the other end of the rivalry, Sidney Crosby continued to show why he was the best player in hockey, period.  Starting the game off with an impressive strip and goal:

And assisting on the next two Team Canada goals, he had another prolific night when the spotlight shined brightest.  One goal, two assists, and the second star of the game.  Meanwhile Evgeni Malkin assisted on the first goal of the game for Russia.

Other Notes

Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin, representing Team Sweden, take on Team Europe to see who will play Team Canada in the finals.  That game gets underway at 1:00pm EST on ESPN.
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Saturday, September 24, 2016

NBC Sports Facebook Trashes Flyers

4:58:00 PM 0
Everyone knows we don't take kindly to the Flyers around these parts.  That's no surprise.  What is a surprise?  NBC Sports taking shots at Flyers fans, who should probably stay in their lane.

During a post on the Sidney Crosby stamp, soon available in Canada, a Flyers fan chimed in and said they really wanted a stamp to commemorate their best player, Claude Giroux (no word on whether that would be him touching a police officer's butt).  NBC Sports clapped back:

(h/t to PensNationUnite)

The best part, other than the sick burn?  NBC Sports is owned by Comcast.  They also own the Flyers.  Biting the hand that feeds you has never tasted so good.

The person running the account didn't stop there.

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Broken Hand Sidelines Murray 3-6 Weeks

11:55:00 AM 0
According to the Penguins, Matt Murray has a broken right hand.  It's expected to see him miss the start of the NHL season.

The injury, originally thought to be a sprained ligament in his hand, occurred during World Cup of Hockey play.  The injury occurred on September 19th during his start for Team North America.  It was a game that saw Murray post poor numbers, 15 saves on 19 shots for a .789 save percentage.

Murray's loss is now Marc-Andre Fleury's gain.  Pittsburgh's de facto starter for years saw himself supplanted by Murray after a concussion knocked Fleury out for the playoffs.  Matt Murray took over the reigns and led the Penguins to the Cup.

An off season full of questions about possibly trading Fleury followed and Jim Rutherford held fast, insisting that holding on to both goaltenders was the best option.  For the next 3-6 weeks, at least, Jim Rutherford was correct.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Fun is Dead- Team North America Eliminated from #WCH2016

12:30:00 PM 0
The last of the World Cup of Hockey's round robin games concluded Thursday night.  As the semi-finals are set we take a look back at the action.

Russia Ruins Everyone's Fun

Team North America needed help from the Finns or they were finished.  Team North America didn't get the help they needed.  Team Russia needed to win by three goals.  Team North America needed Team Finland to score at least one goal.  Team North America is out of the World Cup of Hockey.

Team Russia advanced on to the semi-finals by virtue of a 3-0 win over Team Finland, a team who never quite put together the talent they needed to contend.  Olli Maatta managed to stay above water, not notching a minus in the +/- column while Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal to make the game 3-0.

USA Finally Out of its Misery

Team USA was already done before the puck dropped but in the face of mounting criticism they looked to make some sort of impact against Team Czech Republic.  Win one game, show they'll go down fighting, prove their doubters wrong.  Instead they added more fuel to the fire.

While scoring more in one game than they had the previous entire tournament, they still couldn't manage to out-grit their way to a win.  Showing heart they fought to a 4-3 loss.  Meanwhile fans made it known they weren't happy with "Let's go Kessel!" chants erupting during the game.  Where Team USA goes from here isn't known but it'll be hard to go lower.

Other Notes

The semi-finals take place this weekend with Evgeni Malkin and Team Russia taking on Sidney Crosby and Team Canada on Saturday at 7:00pm EST on ESPN2.  The second game, Team Europe against Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist, and Team Sweden, is a go Sunday at 1pm EST on ESPN.
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Pens Invite Former 1st Round Goalie to Training Camp, Maguire and Gustavsson Not Attending, by @_MAF29

11:16:00 AM 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins have invited Leland Irving, a former first round pick of the Calgary Flames, to training camp.

Irving has 11 years of professional hockey experience. Of the 13 games he's played at the NHL level, he's 3-4-4 with a 3.25 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. He's spent his career in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, and the Finnish Elite League.

With the invite, Irving is one of six goalies that will be attending the Pens' training camp. The others include Doug Carr, Casey DeSmith, Tristan Jarry, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

Sean Maguire and Filip Gustavsson are not attending camp, according to the Penguins training camp roster.

Gustavsson, a 55th overall draft pick by the Penguins in 2016, is currently on Luleå Hockeyförening of the SHL, and their season starts tomorrow. This is likely why he won't be attending camp.

Maguire, a 113th overall draft pick by the Penguins in 2012, is not attending camp and his spot is being taken by Casey DeSmith. As of now, a reason has not been given for his absence. He didn't play in London during the rookie tourney, so the safest guess is injury. But nothing has been confirmed.
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It Begins: Penguins Open Training Camp by @Puck_Princess17

9:17:00 AM 0 it?

Summer has officially ended. Daylight is getting shorter. Soon the cool, crisp air of October will waft through the hills and valleys of south-western Pennsylvania. With that air comes the sound of skates hitting the ice, stick on puck, and the booming yell of "DO IT RIGHT!"

Today, Penguins Nation, today our reigning Stanley Cup Champions open training camp and begin the work needed to make a repeat run at yet another Championship. The Penguins return all but three players from last season (Ben Lovejoy, Beau Bennett, and Mr. Game One, Jeff Zatkoff) and boast a new crop of Baby Pens eager to break in and make their mark on the NHL.

Who will be the standout in camp? Who will emerge as the leaders? Who will finally live up to their potential? Can the Penguins be the first team since the Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back Stanley Cups? The answers will come soon.

Check out the first Penguins Hype Video of the season (above), the training camp roster and get your rally towels ready. The March of the Penguins begins NOW.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fans Chant "Let's Go Kessel" at USA/Czech Republic Game

10:18:00 PM 0
Phil Kessel already won with one tweet but he keeps racking up the W's while Team USA continues to falter.

During tonight's loss to the Czech Republic, putting Team USA as a woeful 0-3 in the World Cup of Hockey, a very clear "Let's Go Kessel!" chant broke out at his old home of the home of the Maple Leafs, the Air Canada Centre.

Phil's a winner.  And a Stanley Cup champion.  And he made it to the game tonight.  Kind of.

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Phil Kessel Went Out on Top by @Nick422

3:30:00 PM 0
Phil Kessel knew he was done with Team USA.  He knew long before he sent the infamous tweet.  He knew the moment he wasn't named to Team USA while the likes of Brandon Dubinsky made it.  And then he waited.

Everyone knew the process was flawed.  Everyone knew the picks were awful.  Phil Kessel and fellow snubs Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo sure knew.  All that was left was to see things play out but the fates of Team USA, and former members like Kessel, were already locked in.

Phil is 28.  He's far from old but in two years hockey will be played in South Korea in the Olympics.  It'll likely be the first Olympics in 20 years without NHL members.  Phil Kessel wasn't making that team.

In six years Olympic hockey will be played China.  NHL members will likely not play in those games.

The next World Cup of Hockey is planned for 2020 with little else known about it as of yet.  At 32, it's questionable whether Phil Kessel will be picked by then.

This was likely Kessel's last chance to represent his country and he knew it.  When he wasn't selected he opted for surgery and to remember the good times.  The times that won't get better any time soon.

Phil was done with Team USA long before he hit "Send" on Twitter but he'd still won.  He won silver with Team USA at Vancouver.  It's the best Team USA had finished in a while and given the words coming from Team USA management in light of another utter failure, more doubling down on their backwards process, showing their asses, saying Kessel wasn't good enough, being petulant children, it's the best they will do for a long time.

Phil Kessel had gotten all he could from Team USA.  Team USA could have gotten more from Phil Kessel.  He knows it and said as much with his mic drop of a tweet.  One that enraged the flawed roster of players so much they promised to remember it down the road, read with as much of an eye roll as you can imagine.

Phil Kessel didn't just win the World Cup with his tweet.  He beat Team USA and showed them he didn't need them anymore.  Management's bitter reaction since then proves they know it, too.  They've, repeatedly, proven to be losers on the biggest stage.  Phil Kessel?  He's good.  He's a winner.
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WBS: Blue Line Has Potential To Be Elite - Part Two by @jfoo1654

2:30:00 PM 0

If you read part one of this feature, then you know exactly what this piece is about. For those of you who aren't familiar, I am diving into the strength of the WBS Penguins roster and looking at the key players who will play on a stacked blue line for the Pens. This is undoubtedly a team that is built from the back end-out. For the team to be successful, they will have to blend a talented group of D-men to become a shutdown unit who can also contribute offensively. Part One featured Chad Ruhwedel, Cameron Gaunce, and Stuart Percy. Part Two features mostly returning players and an intriguing, young European. Let's get to it.

Lukas Bengtsson signed an entry level deal late last season.
Lukas Bengtsson

At just 22 years old and only one season in Sweden's top professional league, Bengtsson comes to the Penguins organization with loads of potential. The young defenseman never looked out of place in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, and even excelled. A knee injury cut down on the length of his season as he played in just 30 games, but that was plenty of time for him to make a positive impression and catch the eye of the Penguins front office.

He scored seven goals and added seven assists during the 30-game span, and signed a deal with the Penguins late in the NHL season. The young Swede is undersized for a defenseman at 5'9 and 168 lbs, but uses top-tier skating ability and excellent vision to move the puck quickly and avoid situations that could put him in trouble physically.

The most impressive aspect of his game is that when you watch him play, his head is up at all times and he has an uncanny ability to navigate traffic with shots from the point. He thrives on the power play and is most comfortable when the puck is on his stick.

As good as he is offensively, it is no secret that he needs some work on his defensive play in his own end and down below the goal line. He also must adjust to the North American game. With that said, you can expect Bengtsson to spend most of the season in Wilkes-Barre and be a key component on the AHL blue line. Though he could be a call-up option at some point should injuries arise in Pittsburgh. Much like Dominik Simon used his European Pro experience to excel in the AHL last season, I expect Lukas Bengtsson to make an immediate impact in WBS.

After being claimed on waivers by NJ in Feb., Warsofsky returns to the Pens organization.
David Warsofsky

The veteran AHL defenseman enters his 6th full professional season after playing in a career-high 22 games in the NHL split between the Penguins and Devils (claimed him on trade deadline day). He got off to a bit of a slow start in WBS last season on the stat sheet, but he clearly made an impression on Mike Sullivan who would eventually replace Mike Johnston in Pittsburgh.

He had 6 points in 17 games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and played well during his call-up to Pittsburgh before suffering a freak injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. He sustained a concussion when he tripped over a linesman while skating backwards, hitting the back of his head squarely on the ice.

When the Pens tried to slip him through waivers on trade deadline day to make him eligible for the AHL postseason, the Devils scooped him up and he played the remainder of the season in New Jersey.

During his time in WBS, he was a steady presence on the blue line and was playing both on the power play and the penalty kill. Warsofsky has been a very good AHL player throughout his career and his best season came in 2013-14 when he registered 34 points in 56 games.

He is a veteran who can play big-time minutes in all situations and will absolutely play a leadership role during any stay in the AHL. He wore an "A" during his time in WBS last season, and played a big role both on and off of the ice. The Penguins very clearly like what Warsofsky brings to the table, and it appears that the defenseman feels the same about the organization after signing a one-year deal to return.

Fans of the "Baby Penguins" should be intrigued by the idea of a full AHL season out of him, and that may be the case with the depth within the defensive unit. I expect him to compete for the final one or two roster spots in Pittsburgh. There is no doubt Sullivan is high on him, but at the end of the day, I think Warsofsky returns to northeastern PA. He will be a key piece on a team that looks poised for a great season.

Bold Prediction: If Warsofsky spends most of his time in the AHL, he will be an Atlantic Division All-Star.

Oleksy is a leader and a shut down D-Man, can play in PIT should injuries arise.
Steve Oleksy

Oleksy is a stay-at-home defenseman who is an outstanding penalty killer. The former Hershey Bears captain came to the Penguins organization last season. He played in 63 games in WBS, while wearing an "A" all season long. He played on the top defensive pairing for the entire campaign and chipped in 2 goals and 17 assists.

As good of a player as he is on the ice, perhaps Oleksy is more important as a leader off of it. Combined with Captain Tom Kostopolous, it could be argued that the Pens have the best leadership group in the American Hockey League. With plenty of NHL experience (62 games), the veteran D-man is extremely valuable to the organization. That was made evident when he was on the NHL roster as they made their run to the cup this past spring.

Oleksy's role within the franchise is unmistakable. He's a reliable call-up option, and sets a prime example of how to be a professional hockey player for the younger prospects in WBS while being a rock on the ice.

After becoming a fan favorite in Hershey, he is now on the opposite end of the rivalry and has endeared himself equally to the people of Wilkes-Barre. Never afraid to sacrifice his body or stick up for a teammate, Steve Oleksy is without a doubt one of the most important pieces to the WBS Penguins puzzle. Fans in both Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre should be grateful to have Steve-O in black and gold.

A Hobey Baker Finalist, Ethan Prow played in 2 playoff games with WBS.
Ethan Prow

Prow enters his first full professional season after a successful college career at St. Cloud State.  The Penguins signed the highly-touted undrafted free agent following his senior season, and he comes to them with quite the pedigree.

With eight goals and 30 assists in 37 games, the 5'11, 185lb defenseman was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist and the NCHC Player of the Year. He was also All-NCHC First Team and the NCHC Defenseman of the Year.

After finishing his NCAA career and signing with Pittsburgh, Prow was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and played in five regular season games and two postseason contests. He registered only one assist but did not look out of place, and showed glimpses of the things that made him a superstar in college.

An above-average skater who plays with his head up and sees the ice well, Prow is an elite talent on the power play and can rip hard shots with the ability to find shooting lanes through traffic.

It will be a challenge for Prow to find a lot of minutes with the talent and depth on defense, but the 23-year-old has the ability and hockey sense to make an impact. He will be given every chance to make the Top 6 in WBS, but should he fail to do that, he will be the first man called upon when the injury bug bites.

Tim Erixon struggled at times last season, but has momentum after an excellent postseason.
Tim Erixon
Fans in Wilkes-Barre had high expectations for Tim Erixon coming into last season. On paper, he didn't quite live up to the hype, but he did have his good moments. Most notably his playoff performance, when he registered two goals and four assists in 10 Games, and visibly raised his defensive level of play. He played 65 games during the regular season and had 20 points (3G,17A).

Not bad numbers at all for a defenseman, but considering he had 38 points in 40 AHL Games during the 2013-14 season for Springfield, it wasn't the dominant performance the fans and media were expecting.

He has an NHL pedigree with 93 Games of experience and there is no doubt the talent and ability are there for Erixon to be a force in the AHL this season. He will be given a long look during camp in Pittsburgh, but I expect him to play big minutes in all situations for WBS. With the momentum of a very good postseason, I think fans in Wilkes-Barre can expect to see the best version of Tim Erixon this coming season.

I won't even begin to guess at what the defensive depth chart is going to look like right now, but with camp starting we will surely have a more concrete idea soon. One thing is certain -- the WBS Penguins will have an absolute dynamite defensive unit, loaded with potential NHL Talent. It will be the strength of this squad without a doubt, and that is a big reason for optimism in northeast Pennsylvania!

Thanks to all for reading, your time and support are always greatly appreciated! Make sure to follow closely with the season ready to begin. Find me on twitter @jfoo1654 and of course as always on +Pens Initiative. I will have updates from training camp and will be in the press box this season covering the WBS Pens Live.

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Post Phil Kessel Ending USA Hockey World Cup Update

12:02:00 PM 0
Nathan Dennette - The Canadian Press 
It's day one after Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel ended USA Hockey's existence with one snarky tweet and things are happening.

Here's the tweet in all it's glory incase you missed it:
Pens World Cup of Hockey Update

In the afternoon matchup, Team North America prevailed over Sweden 4-3 in quite possibly the most bonkers OT thriller I've ever seen.

Penguins net minder Matt Murray did not play due to a thumb ailment. He was replaced by a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, John Gibson.

Penguins forwards Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist did play for Sweden. Their play was highlighted by Carl Hagelin breaking up a pass to Connor McDavid directly in front of Henrik Lundqvist that would have certainly resulted in a goal.

Hornqvist recorded an assist on Filip Forsberg's goal and got away with punching Jacob Trouba in the face behind the play.

In the night game, Canada defeated Team Europe 4-1.

Pens Captain Sidney Crosby got the scoring started with a wrap-around goal just 4:01 into the game.

Looking Ahead

The final two round robin games take place tomorrow at 3pm EST and 8pm EST and there is plenty on the line.

3pm Game: If Evgeni Malkin and Russia defeat Olli Maatta and Finland, they will advance to the Semifinals. If Finland is able to find a way to defeat the Russians, Team North America will advance to the Semifinals and play Canada. There's potential for a Crosby vs Murray matchup.

8pm Game: Team USA (who is salty about Kessel's tweet) take on the Czech Republic. Both teams are eliminated from further contention and this game has lost it's luster because of that.

Or has it? There might be talk about Phil Kessel's character flaws due to his hilarious tweet. If memory serves me right, that happened a year ago and he ended up leading the Stanley Cup playoffs in goals and winning a Stanley Cup.

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Flower Unveils NEW Mask for 2016-17 Season

9:59:00 AM 1

Today on Stephane Bergeron's Facebook page he released Flower's 2016-17 mask. Now with the horrid khaki Vegas Gold officially gone this year, he went with a simple, clean, and retro design calling back to what it affectionately know as the "Snoop Logo".

Stephane has done alot of Penguin's masks over the years. You can check out his gallery at Griff Airbrush. 

I like it a lot. The black and yellow Pittsburgh Gold color scheme was always my favorite. It's no Wregget Batman's Penguin mask but it will do ... it will do ....

What do YOU think? Let us know!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Penguin's Matt Murray out against Team Sweden, Gibson to start

1:23:00 PM 0
Due to sustaining a thumb injury during an intense game against Russia, Matt Murray will be unavailable to Team North America as they face off this afternoon against the Swedes.

Pittsburgh native, John Gibson, will start when Team NA takes the ice in Toronto. It will be Gibson's first game back since Sept 11th, a pre-tournament game, when he made 29 saves when Team NA defeated Europe. Previously scratched Connor Hellebuyck will act as the backup goalie.

Murray started the first two games of the tournament but was removed from the game Monday after facing a full assault from Team Russia and a barrage of goals were let in. Soon after the thumb injury, he was taken out of the game and replaced by Gibson. Gibson went on to stop all the shots taken at him (six in all) in what would end up being a losing effort by Team NA.

This comes as a huge blow to the much-loved Team North America as Matt Murray has already established himself as a prominent force in goal and was believed to be one of Team North America's best chances at proceeding far into the World Cup tournament.

Team North America and Team Sweden face off at 3pm EST in what is the final preliminary round game for both teams.
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Team USA Eliminated from #WCH2016, Finland Clings to Life

12:53:00 PM 0
Tuesday saw the outcome everyone expected finally happen as Team USA was knocked out of the World Cup of Hockey while Finland was put on life support.

Big Brother Shows Little Brother

Team Sweden, one of the favorites to win the World Cup of Hockey, took to the ice to face off against "younger brother" Team Finland at 3 o'clock and while little brother held their own for most of the match it was an unlikely hero that set little brother ahead for the win.

With Henrik Lundqvist back in net for Sweden after missing the first game with illness, Team Sweden looked to have the upper hand.  Lundqvist would prove to make a difference in a 2-0 victory.  The go ahead goal scorer was Anton Stralman in slot, of all places.  It wasn't until Loui Eriksson scored the empty netter with three seconds left that Sweden locked up the win.

Finland isn't yet eliminated from play but it's certainly on its last legs, needing a lot of help to make their way to the next round.  Secondarily, all Penguins in the game (Finland's Olli Maatta, Sweden's Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin) were held scoreless.

Big Bullies Bullied

Most saw it coming early on, when the team was formed in an identity of being tough, physical, gritty instead of talented like every other team in the tournament.  Indeed, Team USA played as they were built and lost as they were built.  It was the expected outcome for all but those in charge.

Despite scoring the first goal of the game, Team USA's lead lasted all of 90 seconds before Team Canada tied it up.  From there Canada never looked back.  At times looking like a cat toying with a mouse before killing it, they took a quick 4-1 lead that never seems threatened.

Despite three posts in the third and a late goal, Team USA never looked in the same league as Team Canada.  The same way they never looked in the same league as any team they played against in the prelims or tournament.  A not so shocking failure for Team USA that represented a huge missed chance.  On national TV on ESPN with a chance to show off all of their skill, and fun, of USA hockey and make new fans.  Instead they chose to go boring, physical, skill-less hockey and were as such the first team knocked out of the tournament.

Sidney Crosby let everyone else do the work for a change while Mike Sullivan looked for a way off of the sinking ship.

Other Notes

Either Matt Murray or Josh Gibson will lead Team North America against Team Sweden at 3:00pm on ESPN on Wednesday.  Later that night Team Canada (likely sans Crosby) will face off against Team Europe at 8:00pm, also on ESPN.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Phil Kessel Burns USA Hockey, Wins World Cup, Twitter

11:45:00 PM 0
Phil Kessel, Stanley Cup Champion, was left off of the Team USA roster for the World Cup of Hockey because... well... ????

Phil, one of the leading scorers for Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, was mysteriously left off of the Team USA roster at the World Cup.  Even before his hand injury was revealed it was shown that he wasn't considered for a role on the team.  It was puzzling and Team USA probably could have used him.

After Team USA's embarrassing defeat at the hands of Canada, marking yet another in the World Cup, Phil took to Twitter and shared a thought.

Enjoy your time with your good dog, Phil.  You've won.

Not too far behind with the silver is this roast from Team USA sledge hockey player Josh Pauls:

Pauls won Gold in the 2010 and 2014 Paralympic games in Vancouver and Sochi respectively.  Maybe USA Hockey should start listening to these two voices instead.

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Dear @usahockey, This Could Have Been Avoided by @Nick422

10:09:00 PM 0
"They're built to play one way and they're not doing a good job of it."

Those were the words of Brett Hull during Tuesday night's second intermission in which Team USA trailed Team Canada 4-1.  Yet another game in this tournament, preliminary rounds included, where Team USA was outclassed by the more talented team on the opposite end of the ice.

Sure the end of the night saw Team USA winning the hitting battle.  It saw them with more grit and character and more rah rah crap that John Tortorella's head in the sand tactics always preach.  The same nonsense that drives GM Dean Lombardi after lucking in to two Cup wins.  The same garbage that Brian Burke has always peddled.

And everyone saw this coming.  Everyone but those in the USA Hockey front office.

The moment the team announced their leadership people cringed.  People held out hope for a while.  And then the roster was announced.  Left off were playmakers, goal scorers, and people with skill in favor of role players and character people who could bring grit.

The moment all was announced and locked in, the moment players like Phil Kessel, Justin Faulk, Tyler Johnson, and Cam Fowler were left off of the team to form them, mold them in a specific way all saw how this would go.

Over the last near two weeks it's played out exactly as was expected: poorly.

While Team USA was not able to use some viable and talented candidates that went to Team North America (Jack Eichel chief among them) it's not excuse for building a roster of All Stars to fit your mold, and not mold yourself to fit them.

The second John Tortorella, he of his awful brand of hockey that has seen him driven out of multiple towns in recent memory, was named all knew this team would be bad.  They knew it would be about him and his players doing it his way or the highway and not him conforming to fit the best players.

Everyone saw it coming.  Everyone but the heads of USA Hockey.  This all could have been avoided.  And going forward, whether it be the 2018 Winter Olympics or the next World Cup of Hockey, this can change.

Instead of losing fans by playing poor hockey and boring style, emphasize the speed, the skill, the fun of hockey.  Brian Burke, John Tortorella, and Dean Lombardi have never represented these things.  Team Canada, Team North America, and every other team have that emphasis on skill over grit and grind.

Follow their lead.  Follow your assistant coach, Mike Sullivan, and his lead.

Don't allow this to happen ever, ever again.
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