CRASH THE NET: PENGUINS Q&A WITH BOB GROVE
Crash the Net is a weekly web feature appearing as a written column AND as a podcast on pittsburghpenguins.com. Click here to submit a question.
QUESTION: All i have been hearing about lately is this highlight goal Evgeni Malkin scored against Kazakhstan. I have seen the pictures but where could i find a video of it?
Bethany of Butler, PA
BOB GROVE: The goal in question is available right here on pittsburghpenguins.com, under the Latest Video link. We said throughout last season that everything you need to know about the Penguins can be found right here, and this is yet more proof that we weren't kidding.
This spectacular short-handed goal came at 6:41 of the second period of Russian's 10-1 opening game win over Kazakhstan May 6 and gave the Russians a 7-0 lead. It's good to know, but hardly surprising, that Malkin wasn't coasting with a 6-0 lead when he poke-checked a neutral-zone drop pass by Alexandr Koreshkov toward the Kazakhstan goal. The one thing I find interesting about this goal is that Malkin dropped to his knees as goaltender Roman Medvedev rushed out to try and clear the loose puck. Why he did this is anyone's guess, but it worked out well in the end.
The kid's got some ability, huh?
QUESTION: Do you expect any modifications with the rule changes that went into effect this year? I would allow the referees and linesmen more flexibility as to "intent" on calling a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass.
-William Thompson of New Castle
BOB GROVE: I haven't heard that general managers are looking for any major changes to the rules adjustments that were made prior to the 2005-06 season, and I don't forsee any at this point. The sum total of everything they did was to emphasize speed and skill, create more scoring chances and quicken the pace of games. All those things were accomplished and continue to be accomplished in the playoffs.
They did tweak the rule change you mention during their mid-season meetings, resulting in this NHL Rules Interpretation Bulletin issued February 28:
Pucks out of play penalty
It was determined by the General Managers that, regarding Rule 51(a) (NOTE 1), delaying the game for shooting the puck out of play from the defensive zone: a puck shot out of play will now be judged by the route the puck leaves the playing surface, not the final destination. The four on-ice officials can converse to get the correct call on where the puck left the playing surface. Referees will continue to use discretion under Rule 51(b) where a player anywhere on the ice deliberately bats the puck with his hand or stick outside the playing area.
I don't know about you, but that is extremely vague to me. I asked Craig Patrick about it several days after that bulletin was issued, and he said it was his understanding that it gave officials some leeway to determine intent. I don't see that in the language of the bulletin, and I have to say I don't remember one instance after Feb. 28 where officials waived off the minor penalty. I like the rule, and I don't want to give on-ice officials the ability to judge intent -- because I don't think it can be done.
QUESTION: Under the new CBA, how much money can the Penguins expect to collect from the big-market, high profit-margin teams?
BOB GROVE: Details about the revenue-sharing component of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and its players have been few and far between. What we know, officially, is that to receive revenue sharing funds a team must be among the bottom 15 revenue producers and play in a market with 2.5 million or fewer television households. It has variously been reported that only the top 10 revenue producers will contribute to the fund. As far as I know, the details of how much respective teams pay in, or draw out, has not been made public.
The Montreal Canadiens were said to be the No. 3 revenue-producing team in the NHL this season, behind Toronto and Detroit, and their owner told La Presse recently that he expects to contribute about $6-7 million into the pool. We can be pretty confident that the Penguins, projected to lose about $7 million this season, will be among those teams drawing from this fund.
Hopefully we'll get more information as these funds are distributed for the first time this summer.
QUESTION: Bob, I have mixed feelings about Michael Therrien. While it seemed obvious to me that the team immediately picked up its game post Edzo, the end result in terms of W-L record was not substantially different. Given that it seems all-but certain (based on Sawyer's comments) that Therrien will retun for the '06-07 season, how do you think his return will effect free agent recruiting this summer? The standard take appears to be that Therrien's sometimes abrasive style will detract from that effort. Your thoughts?
-Pat Plummer of Ashburn, VA
BOB GROVE: I do not believe the coaching style of Michel Therrien will dissuade free agents from signing with the Penguins. I believe there are two factors that drive free agents: salary and the competitiveness of the team. Let's face it: money is still the prime motivator for most players who put themselves in the free agent market. Some, sure, are looking to change teams, but most are looking for the best possible salary -- especially now that salaries have come down.
With the team for sale, just how much money the Penguins will have to spend in free agency is one of the biggest questions of the off-season, behind the identity of the person who will be spending it as GM and the identity of potential owners. (The slots license decision, of course, is the biggest of all but won't be decided over the summer).
As far as the competitiveness of the Penguins, free agents understand there's nowhere for this team to go but up. If a guy has only one or two seasons left and is looking for one last chance at the Cup, Pittsburgh is not going to be his destination. But if he's a defenseman looking to establish himself (or re-establish himself) as an everyday player, he knows there are probably more spots to be won here than with many teams. If he's a forward who believes he's capable of much more than he's been given a chance to show, or is already a good scorer who wants to put up the biggest numbers of his career, he knows he might have a chance to play with Crosby or Malkin.
Give a guy a very good salary, and a chance to play and produce with a team that should be on the rise, and he'll manage to deal with a coach who can be abrasive.
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