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Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Phil - 003 Master of Disguise by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0
Also a master of da-dive. Look it up, you know it to be true.
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Friday, September 29, 2017

The Phil - 002 Phil Down by @ryank_119

8:00:00 AM 0
I hear it's not good to drop these new phones... or own one for more than a year.
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Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Phil - 001 Walking Tall by @ryank_119

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We're back and better than ever! The Phil is out and about the town this week and something doesn't seem right with that sports store employee. 

Come back again tomorrow for another strip. And the next day for another. And another the next day... 6 days of The Phil to start the season!
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Dark Shadow in the Great White North by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:30:00 PM 0

Hockey Principle number eight: "We believe programs should provide a safe, positive and INCLUSIVE environment for players and families regardless of race, color, RELIGION, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economical status. Simply put HOCKEY IS FOR EVERYONE."

It is with this principle in mind, as well as the following tweet, that brings me to writing this piece. (Note: obscene language)
Talha Javaid is a 21-year old former hockey player out of Windsor, Canada, who is beloved by his friends, family, and even his Twitter followers. He jokes, he chirps his former team mates in tweet form any chance he gets, and idolizes Senators defenseman, Erik Karlsson. He loves the game and though he hung up the skates in March after suffering a severe concussion, Javaid still likes to get out on the ice from time to time.

He also happens to be Muslim.

Since the tragic events that unfolded in America on 9/11, the prejudice, profiling, and fear of anyone of middle eastern decent has risen to astronomical heights. That mind-set seems to have flooded over the northern most border more than once thought.

On the evening of Sunday September 24, 2017, after leaving his local rink, Javiad found the note pictured above on his car. What is even more shocking is the sad truth that he expected something like this it to happen sooner than when it did.

I spoke with Javaid regarding the incident and he had this to say regarding his initial reaction:
"Honestly, it was weird. Like, a part of me of me was like 'wow, that took longer than I thought it would.' Expected it happen way sooner."

Javaid later tweeted to a friend that he contemplating buying a dash camera in order to try and capture any other incidents.

Though it may be an isolated incident by possibly a jealous opponent, it once again brings the issue of racial profiling to the forefront in a sport that claims to be open and welcoming to all. The NHL, the governing body of professional hockey that began in Canada, the foundation of on which dreams of hockey glory are built, developed and implemented their "Declaration of Principles" earlier in September 2017 in the hopes to make the game of hockey a safe place for all who want to be involved in the game at any level: from beer league to bantam all the way to the pros and everything in between. It is this writers belief and profound opinion that those found to be in breech of these principles, and are caught, should face severe punishment. It's not just's hate speech. There is no room for that at any time.

Thankfully, Javaid has had nothing but an outpouring of love and support for friends and fellow hockey players both in person and online. He refuses to let the incident effect him or his life  and continues to hold his head high.

So what would he say to anyone else who has or may have a run in such as this?
"Honestly, just try to ignore it. And yeah that's hard but there really isn't much you can do about it. Take the high road and kill them with kindness because I promise you it's a hell of a lot more effective. Don't give the person who did it the satisfaction of getting you riled up."

In addition, I would like to add that the world is full of enough darkness. There is no law saying we all have to get along, but at the very least, we should respect each other regardless of differences. Whether we are a fan, writer, player, coach, whatever, we are one hockey family. It's our job to support one another in the game we love and in everyday life rather than tear each other down.

Hockey is for everyone.....principle number eight.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Penguins Going to White House is a Mistake by @Nick422

2:04:00 PM 14
“Stick to Sports” is dead.

There is no more debating this.  The moment the 45th president of the United States called for the firing of athletes exercising their Constitutional right to silently protest police brutality, going so far as to call the leader of the movement Colin Kaepernick a “son of a bitch”,  and remaining argument of “Stick to Sports” ended.

It’s what made the Penguins noon time release, done in the middle of an NFL news cycle debating whether more players would join the Ravens and Jaguars lead from this morning’s NFL game in kneeling and standing in unity, all the more tone deaf and pointless.

Done in the manner of the old time 5pm Friday news dump, the Penguins announced they would be accepting Donald Trump’s invitation to the White House to celebrate their second consecutive championship.  This after Trump disinvited Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors’ visit (a day after Curry said he would not be attending).

Their release cited their visits to George H. W. Bush and Barrack Obama as their bipartisan acceptance of prior celebrations.  What they ignore in doing so is that these presidents did not actively seek to turn a nation against each other.  What they ignore in doing so is gloss over the President’s vicious attack on his citizen’s first amendment rights while gleefully praising white supremacy that was responsible for a murder.  What they ignore in doing so is that silence or acceptance of this administration, one that has from the start fed on bigotry, mysogeny, anti-semetism, and racism while doing all they can to silence and squash anyone not rich or white.

What they’ve done by continuing to accept the invitation to normalize an administration bent on harming this country at every possible term for anyone not rich and white.  By placing the honus on their players as to whether they want to attend, and do the right thing, they’ve put targets on individual players backs.

The best course of action for the Penguins is to decline a visit like the Warriors and UNC Tar Heels.  Playing both fields and straddling the fence while trying not to be political is now political with Trump’s words.  Silence is acceptance.  Acceptance is complicity.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Transformation Tuesday: Mario Lemieux

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It's the summer and that means it's time for some fun.  Throughout the summer we'll be running Transformation Tuesday.  We take a look at current Pittsburgh Penguins now and back at the time of their draft.  We end the summer with the King Penguin himself, Mario Lemieux.

Before he saved the Penguins, he was the savior of the Penguins.  Drafted #1 overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, he came as a fresh face out of Montreal.  Expectations were huge on his shoulders, but no one expected how far they'd be exceeded.

Thank you, Mario.  Without you this blog isn't possible, let alone the past 30+ years of memories.

Thank you for following Transformation Tuesday all summer.  Tonight the preseason begins for the 2017-2018 season.  Stay with us as we have you covered on the Penguins trek on the three-peat.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

WBS Sweaters? Best in Hockey by @disgruntledbill

12:00:00 PM 0
In case you live under a rock or have been at the cottage all summer, the NHL is switching over to Adidas branded NHL jerseys for the 2017-2018 season.  The new jerseys are perfectly fine. 

2017-2018 home jersey penstv 

They have a dopey larger collar that I’m sure will grow on me. 

2017-2018 road jersey penstv
The metallic shield and the additional holes in the jersey and numbers are big downgrades in my book.

holey moley  penstv 
The 2017-2018 jerseys also have the dubious distinction of replacing the best jersey scheme the Penguins have had in more than 20 years: the 2016-2017 kits.

2016-2017 jerseys

Like a student claiming their dog ate their homework, the NHL and Adidas inexplicably have no third jerseys this season. Can you realistically expect a small mom and pop company like Adidas to be able to manufacture 93 different jerseys instead of only 62? That’s preposterous.  The lack of a third jersey league wide is easily the biggest disappointment for jersey enthusiasts this season.  The Pens third jersey will be sorely missed. The best part of the amazing Pens third jersey was the “City of Champions” patch. This patch was a huge middle finger to that other city in PA that is not the city of champions. 

This season, rather than plunk down your hard earned cash for Pittsburgh jersey that is a huge downgrade over last seasons, here is a different avenue for you to fritter away your financial capital. Please turn your attention to WBS for some great news.

This is what beauty looks like.

The WBS Penguins jerseys this season are fantastic. The home and away jersey are virtually identical to what Pittsburgh wore for the 2017-2018 season.  The black and gold is beautiful. The jerseys are CCM which oozes hockey in a way Adidas branding never will. The shoulder crest is the now iconic WBS Penguin over the WBS seal. The same Penguin adorns the front crest over a triangle in homage to Pittsburgh’s logo. My only minor, minor complaint with these sweaters would be the use of the Pittsburgh triangle on the front instead of the WBS seal. 

But wait...there’s more. Remember the third jerseys from the 2017-2018 season?


 We have those in WBS now and they are stunning.  The cuff of the sleeve is gold now, and there is a small additional white stripe, but they are clearly derived from the Stadium Series jerseys of 2017-2018. The only way these sweaters look any better is with the addition of a Calder Cup patch on them. My jersey budget this year goes to WBS 100%. Yours should too. 
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Flashback: Stanley Cup #5

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Summer gives us time to look back and reflect on the hockey season.  It gives us time to remember years gone by.  It's time to go back and remember some of the most memorable moments in team history.  This time we go back to June.

The Penguins Cup run in 2016 seemed surreal in how it came together almost perfectly.  They seemed to be destined to win with no one able to stop them, despite the best efforts of the Rangers, Capitals, Lightning and Sharks.  16 wins later the Cup was back in Pittsburgh and with little drop off between years, expectations were high for 2016-17.

Between Game 1 and Game 82 things change.  Injuries depleted a blue line that was a big part of the Penguins success the previous year.  It meant less of a transition game and less offense.  It meant a different Penguins team entered the playoffs.  It meant much more a grind.

Six, seven and seven plus game efforts in the first three rounds (including that double overtime thriller in Game 7 against Ottawa) sent the Penguins back to the Final with a chance to do something that hadn't been done in the Salary Cap era: win back-to-back.  After being gifted the first two games by Pekka Rinne, the Penguins lost the next two in Nashville.  Slowly, though, confidence grew on the ice.  It was tilting back in their favor despite being steadily in Nashville's for 3 1/2 games of the series.

Game 5 was all Pittsburgh at home as they chased Rinne once again.  And then it was off to Nashville for a date with history.

An improbable run, a grind for every single game, ended as the Penguins lifted their fifth franchise Cup and the Malkin/Crosby crew cemented themselves as a modern day dynasty.  This one as unique as the rest but seemingly more unlikely than the others.  It was fate and it was earned.  The Penguins had, once again, lifted Lord Stanley.

And with that our look back at the past ends.  Next week the preseason begins and the 2017-18 season is not far behind.  The Penguins, again, have the target on their backs as they look to make it three in a row.  We hope you stay with Pens Initiative throughout the season as they try to complete the trilogy.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Transformation Tuesday: Sergei Gonchar

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It's the summer and that means it's time for some fun.  Throughout the summer we'll be running Transformation Tuesday.  We take a look at current Pittsburgh Penguins now and back at the time of their draft.  This week it's another new assistant coach: Sergei Gonchar.

There was once a time when Gonchar was not only one of the premier offensive defensemen of his era, but also the enemy.  The victim of a few Penguins playoffs as a member of the Washington Capitals, Gonchar was drafted in 1992 14th overall.  In 2005-06 he signed with the Penguins where he would go on to win the Cup with the 2008-09 team.  After his retirement he accepted the position of defensive development coach where he's been responsible for the revival of Justin Schultz's career.  He was later named assistant coach after the departure of Rick Tocchet.

Leave Washington, win three Cups with Pittsburgh.  Seems pretty simple!

Join us again next week for Transformation Tuesday.
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Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Flashback: Stanley Cup #4

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Summer gives us time to look back and reflect on the hockey season.  It gives us time to remember years gone by.  It's time to go back and remember some of the most memorable moments in team history.  This week we travel back to 2016.

It seemed like a lost year.  Barely in the playoffs the year before, a big trade with Phil Kessel added and the Penguins couldn't score.  Marc-Andre Fleury was the only thing keeping them alive with everyone, even Sidney Crosby, struggling to produce under Mike Johnston.

In December everything changed.  Johnston was sent packing and Mike Sullivan was promoted.  Rob Scuderi was shipped out of town for Trevor Daley.  And after four games the Penguins went on a tear.  A tear that just never, ever seemed to end.  Adding Carl Hagelin for the low price of seemed to complete a team that looked to have a date with destiny.

Surviving injuries to their top two goaltenders, with Mr. Game One Jeff Zakoff cementing his legacy in Pittsburgh, the Penguins went through the New York Rangers.  The next round they fought off the President's Trophy winning Washington Capitals.  After that a seven game battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  From there it was off to San Jose.

Two wins in Pittsburgh.  One win in San Jose.  Unable to close the deal at home they went back to the Bay for Game 6.  And there Crosby, Malkin, and more etched their names on the list of multiple Cup winners.

A second Stanley Cup cemented Malkin and Crosby's legacy as all time greats.  It seemed surreal, the way it all just came together so perfectly.  And yet it felt like more was to come.

Join us next week for Friday Flashback.
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

The NHL's Declaration of Principles by @MedinaMarie_PI

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(Photo credit:
The game of hockey is open to any and all who care to be involved. On Wednesday Sept 6th, the NHL and NHLPA made it clear that that will continue to be the case with the official announcement of the Declaration of Principles. The Declaration was established and will be carried out in an effort to "develop, promote and support positive changes in the sports culture."

At a conference event that included children from local hockey clubs, current NHL stars such as Erik Karlsson, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as well as representatives from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada (among many others), the NHL and NHLPA laid out what they believe are the principle foundations of the game. Principles that even the Pope himself has blessed and endorsed.

The Principles are as follows:
1. The belief that hockey should be an enjoyable family experience. All stakeholders- organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operators- play a role in that effect
2. The belief that hockey's greatest value is the role it plays in the development in character and life skills
3. The belief that all hockey organizations-regardless of size or level of competition-bring value to players and families in their ability to deliver a positive family experience
4. The belief that physical activity is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit
5. The belief that there are significant benefits of youth participation in multiple sports
6. The belief that hockey programs should be age appropriate for all players, accounting for each individuals physical, emotional and cognitive development
7. The belief that there is great value in all forms of hockey both on and off the ice
8. The belief that all hockey programs should provide a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or socio-economical status. Simply put: Hockey is for everyone.

For more information on the development of the Declaration of Principles you can do so by following this link. You can also view and listen to what brought about the development of the Declaration and what the hope is for hockey's future going forward in a video clip with Pat Lafontaine, VP Hockey Development and Community Affairs.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Phil - Season 3-Peat by @ryank_119

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The Phil is back for another one! Will the boys pull it together and take the Cup a third time? Will the following off-season have reporters obsessing over what to call it? Is it a 4-Peat or a Quad-Row or a Double-Double? I personally love the last one.

The season begins with a bang a few days before the first NHL exhibition games!
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Transformation Tuesday: Mark Recchi

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It's the summer and that means it's time for some fun.  Throughout the summer we'll be running Transformation Tuesday.  We take a look at current Pittsburgh Penguins now and back at the time of their draft.  We turn our eye to new Hall of Famer Mark Recchi.

Recently promoted to assistant coach with the departure of Rick Tocchet, Recchi was once a young stud on the very first Cup winning Penguins team.  He blossomed in a trade to Philadelphia for Rick Tocchet (time is a flat circle) as well as defenseman Kjell Samuelsson and goalie Ken Wregget.  From there he'd make trips in Tampa, Boston, Carolina, and back to Pittsburgh while winning the Cup twice more with Boston and Carolina.

Hired in the 2014 off season as a member of the Penguins staff, he's been a part of the last two Cups for the Penguins while serving as Director of Player Development.  He looks to continue his Penguins legacy as assistant coach starting this season.  He was voted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this summer.

Join us again next week for Transformation Tuesday.
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Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Most Successful WBS Coaches by @disgruntledbill

12:00:00 PM 1
The 18th season of WBS Penguins hockey is almost upon us.  Throughout the years numerous men have stood behind bench for the Pens. These former coaches have gone on to do great things for the Pens in WBS, in Pittsburgh and throughout the NHL.  Let’s take a look at the best coaches the WBS Penguins have ever had.

The real man without fear from Hell's Kitchen isn't Dare Devil. 

5. JOE MULLEN  2005-2006:
They say that great players often don’t make great coaches. This was not the case. This hall of famer coached the WBS Pens for 52 games and had a .767 winning percentage. Things were looking good for Mullen until he turned into a heel and went to the Flyers as an assistant coach.  

I'm certain he was born bald. 

4. JOHN HYNES 2010-2015:
Hynes spent five seasons in WBS.  When Pittsburgh soured on Dan Bylsma , Hynes was presumed to be the next head coach in line. That was not to be. Ray Shero was fired as GM and moved on to New Jersey. Shero took Hynes along to be the head coach of the Devils. Although the Devils have struggled under his leadership, he has shown tremendous talent working with young  skilled players. There is a reason why Will Butcher has signed with the Devils, that reason is John Hynes. Atlthough Hynes didn’t have direct success with Pittsburgh, he helped in other ways. While in WBS Hynes molded the young talent that would go on to fuel the  Penguins ’16 and ’17 Stanley Cups.
From the random year where the WBS Penguins were the Oilers too. 

3.  TODD RICHARDS (2006-2008):
Richards had the best winning percentage of any WBS coach (.825) and lead the Pens to the Calder Cup Final most recently in 2008  (where they of course lost to the Chicago Wolves). Since leaving WBS Richards has gone on to coach the Wild, the Blue Jackets, and serve as an assistant with the Lightning. 

I'm certain Therrien is about to praise his players here. 

2. MICHEL THERRIEN (2003-2005):
Even though you and Crosby may hate his guts you can’t argue with his success. Therrien is the only coach to ever reach the Final with both WBS and PIttsburgh. His Penguins teams lost to the Milwaukee Admirals in the Calder Cup Final in 2004, and Pittsburgh lost in the Final to the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.  He has coached the Montreal Canadiens both before and after his stint with the Pens, in addition to having a .750 winning percentage with WBS. . Plus he has some of the best quotes in WBS history. What’s not to love about everyone’s favorite French chain smoker?
These empty shelves are where he stores the accolades he's about to get. 

1.  MIKE SULLIVAN (2015)
The best coach to have passed though WBS is without a doubt Mike Sullivan.  He has coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to back to back Stanley Cups. He was no slouch when he was in WBS leading the team to an 18-5 record good enough for the 2nd highest winning percentage of any WBS coach. Sadly, we didn’t have him around long enough to win us a Calder Cup too. 

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Flashback: Stanley Cup #3

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Summer gives us time to look back and reflect on the hockey season.  It gives us time to remember years gone by.  It's time to go back and remember some of the most memorable moments in team history.  Today it's time for the trifecta.

The 2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins season was an unexpected high that came to an abrupt halt with a loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.  They raised the Cup on the Mellon Arena ice as a magical run ended what seemed far too soon.  One was left with the feeling of "This sucks... but they'll be back."

The 2008-09 season seemed to be anything but magical but definitely unexpected.  A team adrift in the sea, riddled with injuries, and out of playoff contention was magically brought back to lift by the firing of one coach, a return of stars from injury, and an impressive streak to close out the season.

No team seemed hotter going in to the playoffs.  The Penguins made their way through the Flyers, fought the Capitals in an historic seven game series, and breezed through the Hurricanes in a sweep.  Their foe again in the Cup Final?  The Red Wings.

Six hard fought games, including one blow out and a triumphant rebound by Marc-Andre Fleury, led the Penguins to the moment everyone dreams of: Game 7.

The moment wasn't too big for the Pens or Max Talbot.  With no fingernails left you watched as time ran down, Lindstrom fired one more shot, Fleury made that last save, and the Cup was theirs.  The future seemed bright for these Penguins, with more Cups looking to be a given.  It wouldn't be near that easy.

Join us next week for Friday Flashback.
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