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Penguins Report: Grand Opening

Thursday, 10.07.2010 / 9:30 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
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Penguins Report: Grand Opening
That's a wrap for the grand opening day of CONSOL Energy Center blog. Check out Jason Seidling's in-game blog at 6:45 tonight. He'll be giving you the latest from the pre-game celebration, the warmups, scratches, injury updates and more during the game.

We're so close to getting this season started. GAME ON!!!!!
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6:21 PM:
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is in attendance for the grand opening of CONSOL Energy Center. He chatted with the media prior to the game. Here is what the commissioner had to say…

It’s a thrill to be here. I went on a tour of the building over the summer when I was here for the Winter Classic press conference. This building is every bit as magnificent as everybody had hoped. This is marking a continuation of a great era for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh. It’s just a thrill to be a part of this tonight.

On if he thought the arena may not have been built:
I knew all along that this would work out (laughs). I actually think that you need to give Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle the credit for sticking by this team and having the vision and foresight to know what could be there having once endured everything that they had to go through. It is a testament to them that we’re here tonight – as well as the mayor, the governor and everybody else that participated. But they and the league always believed in this franchise and in the city of Pittsburgh.

On his prediction for the game:
I hope it will be entertaining and exciting. This is a great cross-state rivalry.

On seeing the project come together from the beginning:
I actually saw the building when it was a shell about a year and a half ago. It was clear to me having seen the plans that this building was going to be first class, state of the art. When put in the site that it’s in overlooking the city with the glass wall atrium, this was going to really be special.
As we drove by to get in here tonight, I looked at the Igloo, but not longingly. The building served this team and the community well, but it was time to move on.

On sticking by the Coyotes:
What this says – and I get asked this question in a different context a lot – is this is Exhibit A as to why we are doing what we are doing in Phoenix. Now Phoenix and Pittsburgh aren’t the same city – they don’t have the same history and tradition, but I think we have had a pretty good history of addressing problems when a franchise has them and not running out on a city. You can point to Pittsburgh; you can point to Ottawa; you can point to Buffalo. Those teams not only went through troubled times, but they are looking at being very successful at the current time. We always knew Pittsburgh was a hockey market.

On how important it was to keep the Penguins here:
We know the connection we have with our fans. We don’t take that connection lightly and we don’t run out on it.

On being proud of all the new arenas around the league:
It’s not a question of pride and I can’t take responsibility for them. It’s really the decision of a city or a province or state to decide this is important to them and this is what they want to do. Nobody is suggesting that every city has to run out and have a new arena. If you don’t have one, there are certain consequences from that. The fact is that every community has to make its own decision.

On Mike Ilitch building a new area and also owning the Detroit Pistons:

I think things in Detroit are very much fluid right now because the Ilitch’s are very much interested in acquiring the Pistons. If they are successful, and we are if that is what they want to do, then things will flow from that. We participate in the process to the extent worthy.

On feeling good about the building considering the work he helped put into it:
I am delighted to see all the good things that have happened to this franchise. It is very rewarding – not so much for me but for the terrific fans we have here in Pittsburgh.

On the Ilitch’s owning three professional sports teams and having reservations about that:
Absolute not. I think the NBA would be lucky to have people who are such good owners like they are to own one of their franchises. Mike and Marian Ilitch are as fine of an owner as you would want to have for a franchise.

On Don Fehr taking over as executive director of the NHLPA:

He hasn’t been officially been given the job of executive director. I think it would be inappropriate for anybody at the league to be commenting either in favor or not with respect to what the players process is. We don’t want to influence it one way or another. If we said we loved him, it might be the kiss of death. If we said we hated it that might be too. My only point in saying it that way is that is something we really shouldn’t comment on. When there is a new executive director we will be happy to discuss it.

On the success of playing in Europe:
We will have had by Sunday 13 games – seven exhibition games and six in the regular season. It shows that there is tremendous interest in our game and our players in Europe, where 28  percent of our players come from.

Secondary assist Jason Seidling
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5:22 PM:
Here are some shots from the Red Carpet gala prior to the CONSOL Energy Center home opener. Click to view the photo gallery.


Dan Bylsma (left); Sidney Crosby (right)


Iceburgh (left); aerial shot of the carpet (right)


Marc-Andre Fleury (left); Evgeni Malkin (right)


Matt Cooke (left); Maxime Talbot (right)  Click to view the photo gallery.

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3:59 PM:
Great stuff on thepensblog today about the Pens-Flyers rivalry. If this doesn't get you psyched for the game, you may not have a pulse.

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2:55 PM:
The blog Mondesi's House is putting together a benefit in the memory and honor of former Penguins PA announcer John Barbero, who passed this summer at the age of 65.

On Sunday, November 7, the Mon Valley YMCA will host a sports and celebrity memorabilia auction from 1-4 p.m. at the YMCA gymnasium, sponsored by Charleroi Federal Savings Bank.

Proceeds from the event benefit the YMCA's Youth and Teen Programs, and a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded on behalf of John Barbero to a high school student pursuing education or broadcasting in college.

For more details click here.

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2:50 PM:
The Penguins were asking to the city of Pittsburgh to celebrate Oct. 7 as "a great day for hockey" and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl obliged. In an official proclamation, the mayor stated:

"Now therefore be it resolved that I, Luke Ravenstahl as Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, am proud to recognize the Pittsburgh Penguins as one of the greatest ice hockey teams in modern history. I congratulate all those involved in the design and construction of the CONSOL Energy Center and do hereby declare October 7, 2010, 'A Great Day for Hockey Day' here in our most livable City of Pittsburgh."

Just in case you were worried, now you know.
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12:39 PM:
According the Flyers official website 22-year-old Rusian sensation Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in goal for Philadelphia tonight.

"Bobrovsky led the team in preseason action, appearing in five games and posting a 3-0-1 mark to go along with a 1.76 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in 205 minutes of play, allowing six goals on 98 shots."
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12:34 PM:
Coahspeak with Dan Bylsma...

Arron Asham, after further evaluation, wanted to play. We were hoping to play him, but he is going to be placed on IR. As a result, we have called up Eric Tangradi. For those of you who were concerned about Eric, we hoped Arron would be able to play, but possibly knowing he wouldn’t be able to play, we sent Eric to Wheeling in case this was a possibility he had to come back here, with the round trip being two hours instead of 10 hours to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

On Tangradi being nervous growing up a Flyers fan:
I think the things we bounced around this end, regardless of the situation, this is the start of the season, the home opener against Philadelphia. I’m pretty confident that regardless of any situation he would have been experiencing some jitters and some things other than hockey in his head tonight.

On Letang’s status:
Kris is under the weather. He is a game-time decision.

On why Patrick Killeen was recalled:
It was just because Patrick has been sent down to the East Coast Hockey League. Gilles Meloche works with all of our goalies. Patrick is considered a prospect, so this was a chance for Gilles to work with him today.

On Tangradi staying with the Penguins when Asham returns:
That’s a great question. I think that will play itself out a little bit considering how everyone plays and how our team plays where he fits in when Arron Asham gets healthy.

On why Despres was sent down:
He was not going to be in our starting lineup. The situation he would have been in if he would have stayed with our team was one where he would have been in and out of the lineup and not getting a great chance. That’s not something we thought was good for his development. Simon did a great job in this camp. He showed he is going to play in this league. He could probably play right now. But for our team and our situation, it’s probably not the best thing for his development.

On paring Goligoski and Engelland:
I couldn’t tell you the exact number of games they have played together, but it’s probably in the 80-100 range. Just that comfort I think is something that we looked at this morning when we were entertaining possibilities with Kris being under the weather.  I think if the game would play out, you would see 3 (Goligoski) and 7 (Paul Martin) playing together and 44 (Brooks Orpik) and 4 (Zbynek Michalek) playing together.

On who will fill the net-front role on the power play:
We had a meeting with about five players regarding the net-front guy. The one who does it the best will be the one who stands there. The purpose and what we would like to see from that position has been explained very specifically.

On opening the new arena:
I think we wanted to win some games in here (during the preseason) to break it in. It’s beautiful, it’s nice, it’s an awesome place in a lot of different aspects, but we want this to be a tough place to play. We want this to be a place that visiting teams don’t want to be in and don’t want to come play in. Winning exhibition games is nice and took some polish off the seats, but the real thing will be something different. Tonight is the real life. It’s opening night and it’s Philly. There are a lot of things that make this game special.



Goal: Jason Seidling
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12:31 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Sidney Crosby

On the motivation playing Philadelphia:

I don’t think we need any extra motivation at this point. If anything it adds to it, but I really don’t think you can add to it at this point. It’s a great way to start the year especially in this new building.

On how much different this game feels than the preseason home games:

It’s more exciting. This is why we all play. I think we’re all looking forward to getting a routine and playing for something here.

On all the little details of CONSOL Energy Center:

I think the biggest thing is that they made it feel comfortable with all the tradition around here. I think anyone will tell you in any organization or any player that the history of their team is so important, so it just adds to everything.

On the Mario Mosaic:

It’s pretty incredible that they were able to do that.

On managing the excitement level of the first game:

We just have to use it to motivate us. I don’t think we have to change anything. There’s a lot of excitement that comes with this anyway. It’s all part of a first game and it’s something we’ll have to deal with, and we’ll be able to deal with our emotions. If anything, I hope it makes it better.



Mike Comrie

On playing on a top line and the top power-play unit:

I think that there are a lot of capable players in here. Whoever is on the ice has to do their best and fulfill their role. There’s obviously some talented players that can get you the puck. We are all excited about this year. We know it’s a long year and there are going to be ups and downs. On paper we have a great team. If we stay healthy we can really give ourselves a chance to compete.

On being a free agent steal:
I think that we have a lot of work ahead of ourselves. We all want to contribute. The preseason is over and now it is time to start playing for real. We are all excited about that.



Assists: Tony Jovenitti, Jason Seidling
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12:20 PM:


Scott Hartnell and Mike Richards (left)


Sergei Bobrovsky (left)
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12:10 PM:
The Flyers are finishing up their morning skate. Defenseman Chris Pronger, who has a knee injury, wasn't looking to limber in the early going. He is still on th ice while the majority of his teammates have departed. Though it's not a definite sign, but is an indication that he will not play tonight.


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12:05 PM:
Eric Tangradi had an interesting 24 hours. He was assigned to Wheeling of the ECHL Wednesday evening, only to be recalled Thursday morning. Head coach Dan Bylsma said the reasoning behind the move was due to the upper-body injury Arron Asham has been dealing with.

"We knew there was a possibility Asham couldn’t play," Bylsma said. "So we sent Eric (Tangradi) to Wheeling so that he could be here roundtrip in two hours versus 10 hours to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton."

"I got a call this morning to come back," said Tangradi, who will be wearing No. 26 in the lineup tonight. "I feel fortunate to be here. I planned on practicing in Wheeling today and the plan changed."

Tangradi, who has 12 family and friends attending Thursday's home opener, has enjoyed the social media melee over his interesting journey.

"It was a confusing 24 hours, but I’m back in Pittsburgh," he said. "It was fun looking at Twitter last night. There were a lot of interesting rumors being spread, very, very interesting rumors. I can’t say any to you guys, but I had a couple good laughs yesterday."

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11:35 AM:
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma gave a couple of injury updates at his media conference:

Arron Asham - Placed on IR.

"Arron Asham after further examination, he wanted him to play and we were hoping he'd play, he was placed on IR."

Kris Letang - Under the weather and is a game-time decision.

"Kris is under the weather. He is a game-time decision."
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10:58 AM:


Maxime Talbot (left) was the first player on the ice for the morning skate as usual.


Eric Tangradi (right) was recalled earlier today.




Evgeni Malkin (left) shoots while stretching


Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save with Mike Rupp providing a screen (left)

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10:49 AM:
Defenseman Kris Letang is not on the ice. We'll get an update as soon as we hear anything.
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10:38 AM:
Student rushers lined up as early 8:30 Wednesday night to get a ticket to the grand opening of CONSOL Energy Center. The line was full this morning. Penguins CEO David Morehouse, GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma passed out donuts and coffee to the rushers. View the full photo gallery here.



Jason Seidling will be filing a report shortly... story is here.


CEO David Morehouse (left); GM Ray Shero (right)
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10:34 AM:
The Penguins' lines at the morning skate were:

Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Tangradi-Comrie-Malkin
Cooke-Letestu-Kennedy
Rupp-Adams-Talbot-Godard (the four rotated)

Orpik-Michalek
Lovejoy-Martin
Goligoski-Engelland

Fleury and Johnson were in the net.

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9:48 AM:
Goaltender Patrick Killeen, who was recalled from Wheeling of the ECHL Wednesday, did some work on the ice with goaltender coach Gilles Meloche and strength coach Mike Kadar before the team's morning skate.
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9:41 AM:
Jason Seidling has tonight's scouting report on the Flyers.
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9:37 AM:
Some early news to report. The Penguins have recalled left wing Eric Tangradi from Wheeling of the ECHL. He will be in the lineup tonight, and will likely play with Evgeni Malkin and Mike Comrie.
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9:30 AM:
Welcome to CONSOL Energy Center - the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins! The day has finally come. There will be a lot of festivities taking place for Thursday's opener - with a red carpet, big screen and the hated Flyers - but everyone should take a minute to reflect on what this new arena has really meant for the Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh. I did that yesterday and this was the result.

So take some time to enjoy the great accomplishments ...

OK. Now let's play some hockey. The 2010-11 season has arrived. Game on!




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