Posts Tagged ‘pittsburgh penguins’


Phil Kessel knows a thing or two about what it’s like to play in the intense hockey market that is Toronto.

So when the former Maple Leaf and current Penguin returned to the Big Smoke for his offseason workouts with fellow Leaf alum Gary Roberts, Kessel was quick to offer advice to a much-improved Toronto club that will face much higher expectations next season.

“It’s always tougher the second year. There’s a little more pressure,” Kessel told this week. “They got good players there and you never know what happens, but, tough league …

“Every year is different. You never know who’s going to make the playoffs – even the best teams might miss the playoffs.”

The Maple Leafs experienced a complete 180 over the past two seasons. After finishing dead last in 2016, they made the playoffs a year later and took the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals to six games – five of which were decided by sudden-death overtime.

With success comes the pressure to sustain it. Maple Leafs fans are aware of their talented young squad’s potential, and expectations in Toronto are higher than they’ve been since Doug Gilmour rocked the “C.” But opposing NHL clubs have taken notice too.


Ron Burkle would gladly have given up the money earned through expansion if it meant holding on to Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner mentioned his great reluctance to part ways with the goalie in an interview with Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“What Fleury did for us by being more of a stand-up person than you could ever imagine anybody being and (general manager Jim Rutherford’s) call to keep him all year, which was exactly the right thing to do – I wish we could have given the $15 million (expansion fee) back and kept him forever,” Burkle said.

Burkle is referring to Fleury taking a back seat following the emergence of Matt Murray and handling the situation like a consummate professional.

There were other factors in play, of course – notably, a salary cap that makes it difficult to carry two bona fide starting goalies and a market that dictated Fleury likely would have been traded.

In the end, Fleury was exposed in the expansion draft and selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, giving them an accomplished netminder right out of the gate.

Fleury was selected first overall by the Penguins in 2003 – four years after Burkle, along with Mario Lemieux, helped save the club from bankruptcy and potential relocation. He won 375 regular-season games and three Stanley Cups during his time in Pittsburgh.

NHL: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby said Wednesday he did not pay attention to those questioning whether he should continue playing hockey after suffering another concussion during the playoffs.

Crosby was too focused on capturing another Stanley Cup for his Pittsburgh Penguins to worry about outside opinions on his health.

”I don’t really read or listen to that stuff during the playoffs,” Crosby told reporters at his annual hockey camp in his hometown of Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia.

Crosby has suffered multiple concussions during his career, including one during Game 3 of the second round against Washington in May. He missed one game before returning for Game 5, prompting questions about whether he should consider retirement.

The Penguins went on to win a second straight Cup, defeating the Nashville Predators in the final.

Crosby said he understands why concussions generate so much controversy.

”It’s a hot topic,” he said. ”That’s the nature of it right now.”

He said more information on how to deal with head injuries is becoming available all the time.

”You have to continue to listen to your body to make sure before you go back that you’re good to go,” he said. ”There’s things in place to help with that.”


The Pittsburgh Penguins have found a backup goaltender to replace Marc-Andre Fleury.

The club has signed Antti Niemi to a one-year contract worth $700,000, the team announced Saturday.

Niemi, who will be 34 years old by the start of the regular season, was bought out by the Dallas Stars after posting an ugly .892 save percentage and a 3.30 goals-against average in 37 games in 2016-17.

The Finn does have championship pedigree, hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks.

He’ll be asked to spell starter Matt Murray whenever he’s in need of a game off. Murray will undoubtedly see a larger workload this coming season after Fleury, arguably last year’s most proven backup goaltender, was claimed in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.


Justin Schultz isn’t taking another one-year deal.

The defenseman’s agent says his client will not accept the qualifying offer they received from the Penguins on Monday, and that long-term extension discussions have begun.

“We will not be signing the qualifying offer,” Wade Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey. “You saw what he did this year. The practical answer is it’s a non-issue.”

The Penguins’ qualifying offer to Schultz was for $1.4 million, according to Mackey, matching the cap hit of the one-year pact Schultz inked with the Penguins last July.

“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Arnott said. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”

The pending restricted free agent broke out offensively this past season, piling up a career-high 12 goals and 51 points in 78 regular-season games, and adding 13 points in 21 playoff contests.

Schultz was a vital part of Pittsburgh’s top-four, particularly after the club lost Kris Letang for the rest of the season due to injury.

He took a big pay cut heading in 2016-17, betting on himself after playing on consecutive one-year contracts signed with the Edmonton Oilers worth $3.675 million and $3.9 million, respectively.

The agent said there’s “no hidden fact” Schultz would like to stay with the Penguins, with whom he blossomed in his first full season under Sergei Gonchar’s tutelage.

Arnott cautioned that it’s still early in negotiations on a potential long-term deal, but characterized the discussions as positive so far.

The Oilers traded Schultz to the Penguins before the 2016 deadline.


Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the expansion draft in February, TVA Sports Renaud Lavoie reports.

The report confirms months of speculation, as the emergence of Matt Murray forced the Penguins to make a choice on their future in goal.

However, the agreement doesn’t guarantee Fleury will wind up in Vegas. The 32-year-old remains eligible to be traded elsewhere, and should the Golden Knights select him in expansion, the new franchise could hypothetically flip him for assets.

Fleury was drafted by the Penguins first overall in 2003 and won three Stanley Cups with the organization. But the younger, cheaper Murray has proven more than capable as an NHL starter, helping Fleury backstop Pittsburgh to championships in each of the past two seasons.

In 13 seasons with the Penguins, Fleury appeared in 691 regular-season contests, posting a record of 375-216-68 with a career .912 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average. He’s Pittsburgh’s all-time leader in games played, wins, and shutouts (44).

Fleury’s contract includes two more seasons at a $5.75-million cap hit.


Evgeni Malkin isn’t satisfied. He probably never will be.

The Pittsburgh Penguins center won his third Stanley Cup on Sunday night, and he celebrated by letting everyone know that he’d like to make it three in a row and four overall.

“We’re still young,” Malkin said. “We’re still hungry. We want more.”

The man known as “Geno” was a force in the playoffs, finishing with a league-leading 28 points (10 goals and 18 assists). While Sidney Crosby took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second straight year, the Pens don’t win the Cup without Malkin – it’s as simple as that.

Malkin, 30, was drafted second overall in 2004, with Crosby selected first overall in 2005. It was, clearly, the start of something very special.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, meanwhile, is still upset about Malkin not being included in the NHL’s list of its top 100 players, unveiled earlier this season. He even spoke about it Sunday night.

“You’d think that Geno could get into the top 100, wouldn’t ya?” Rutherford said, according to Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski. “Maybe we can vote again and get him in the top 101 this year. I mean … wow. I’ll just leave that alone for now. That was so disappointing for me, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.”

Rutherford’s right: He should leave it alone. He’s a Stanley Cup champion again, and that’s probably all that matters to Malkin, too.