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Penguins still open to re-signing Greiss - 06-23-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have apparently not ruled out re-signing pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Thomas Greiss (right).

Ray Petkau, Greiss's agent, said via e-mail he discussed a potential contract extension with management last week. While Petkau said the two sides agreed to touch base before the start of the free agent signing period July 1, “we are not actively negotiating right now.”

A free agent signing last offseason, Greiss served as the Penguins' backup goaltender this past season and had a 9-6-3 record, a 2.59 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and one shutout. He carried a salary cap hit of $1 million.

In addition to starter Marc-Andre Fleury ($5.75 million cap hit), the Penguins have goaltenders Jeff Zatkoff ($600,000), Mathew Murray ($620,000) and Tristan Jarry ($589,166) under contract for next season. Zatkoff has one year remaining on a one-way contract while Murray and Jarry are each on entry-level deals.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Learn permaculture from the best this August

Written by Doug Oster on .

Cherry-tomatoes-4Darrell Frey, who is the farmer at Three Sisters Farm in Mercer County, harvests cherry tomatoes hanging from the second level of the bioshelter. Post-Gazette photo by Larry Roberts

 

I've known Darrell Frey for over 15 years and have had the pleasure of doing many stories and photos at his Three Sisters Farm in Sandy Lake, Pa.

The farm is a model of sustainability and organic growing practices. If you're interesting in learning about his techniques, check out the Permaculture Design Course at Three Sisters Farm.

The event runs from August 3 - 15, 2015  with a reduced Fee. $900-$1200 (work trade discounts are available).
During this 12-day intensive course, enjoy great food from local farms and country living at Three Sisters Farm, a 30 year old demonstration of permaculture, and visit other local examples of permaculture in action.

Learn the design process and co-create a design to enhance Three Sister's Food Forest. Experience hands-on applications of permaculture and team learning while sharing your own expertise. Acquire practical skills that can be integrated into your life and inspiration to create a more sustainable world around you.
Instructors:  Darrell Frey , author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm. Guest instructors include Liz Lynch and Michelle Czolba.


Cost: $1200, includes fees, food andcamping accommodations. $200 deposit by July 15, 2015.
For more information contact:
Darrell Frey, Three SistersPermaculture Design
134 Obitz Road, Sandy Lake, Pa 16145

Or by email  

For more information click here.  
 

 

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Leftovers from Mike James story

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Mike James Duquesne

(Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette file photo)

I had a story in today's Post-Gazette on former Duquesne star Mike James, who turned 40 today and is still playing professionally, making him the oldest person to be doing so in the United States (between the NBA and D League).

It's easy to dismiss James as someone who is holding on to what he once had at a much lower level, where he's clearly one of the best players any time he takes the court. That, of course, is painting with an extremely broad brush, one that overlooks just how remarkable it is that someone is playing professional basketball at age 40, way past the physical primes of most. And it's not like we're talking about someone like Kevin Garnett (age 39) or Vince Carter (38) whose longevity in the league could, perhaps, be explained by the appeal of what they were once able to do. James is someone who didn't enter the league until age 26, bounced around from team to team and, aside from the 2005-06 season with Toronto, never averaged more than 11.8 points per game in a season in the NBA.

As a writer, it was a fascinating story to piece together, but unfortunately, these pieces only contain a fraction of the information/commentary that was gathered. Below, I've shared some other informational nuggets and insights from my conversation with Mike.

 


One of the crazier things about James' story, at least to me, was that he was able to hang around the NBA for 13 years despite not starting his career there out of college. An American player breaking into the league after playing for several years abroad is pretty rare and turning that first chance into a prolonged career is even rarer.

 

So what kind of fight is it to get into the NBA after going undrafted?

“To not get drafted and be overseas playing basketball, it’s one of those things that’s out of sight, out of mind," James said. "To be able to break back into the game in the States is something you don’t see a lot of ballplayers have success doing. Why? Because if you’re not established with a name, it’s going to be hard for them to decide to sign you with a contract over someone that has a name.

"The game is not just about your heart and your skill level. It has a lot of other aspects that have to go along with it. Do you have a backing? Do you have a following? I didn’t have these things.”

 


For someone who has an NBA title ring and who once averaged 20 points per game on a team that also featured scoring options like Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson, playing in the D League is undoubtedly a not-so-glamorous way to make a living.

When I asked James about it, here's what he said, in two separate quotes:

“It shows you that you still love the game. It shows that you’re still willing to go out there and keep having fun and keep playing the game you have a genuine passion for.”

“The D-League is not one of those things where you’re playing for nothing other than the fact that you’re trying to get a call back to the NBA or you just genuinely still have a passion to play.”


The retirement question is a natural one given James' age, but he said that he's still "in the process of deciding right now" whether he wants to do so.

 

He doesn't feel any kind of a rush to quit playing if he still feels like he can, but when he is done, he has worked to give himself options. Through the NBA, he has participated in coaching camps and clinics the past three seasons and plans to get into coaching after he reties. His current team -- the Texas Legends -- even brought up the possibility of him returning next season as a player-coach.

He's not particular about whether he coaches at the pro or college level, but something about coaching college players holds an appeal to James, namely that he gets a chance to mold them at a more pliable stage, before they enter the real world. His time in the D League has allowed him to get experience as a leader with a much younger surrounding cast.

"It’s about teaching and showing these guys how to be a professional – not only acting like a professional, but training like a professional," James said. "I think the majority of them want to be pros, but they don’t know what it takes. My leadership and my understanding of the game has really been able to help these guys work at a higher level, but also develop, not just physically as a better ballplayer, but mentally."


A quick point of clarification: I mentioned in the story that James was one of several players who guarded Kobe Bryant when he went off for 81 points against the Raptors in 2006.

James is only 6-foot-2, compared to the 6-foot-6 Bryant, and he didn't spend much of the game guarding him, so I didn't want anyone to get confused and think that he spent the whole game trailing him. From watching highlights of the game, James provided some help defense, but it seemed like a bulk of guarding Kobe fell to Peterson and, to a lesser extent, Jalen Rose.


Even beyond coaching, James has other post-basketball ventures. He and his wife started a business called Third Quarter Coaching which, as he put it, helps athletes prepare themselves "not only for the third quarter of their career, but of their life" (something James presumably knows a lot about).

James, who lives in Houston, said he also has some royalties in oil and gas. 


Whenever you call a coach -- particularly an assistant -- who worked with a player almost 20 years ago, you're never sure what you'll get as a reporter, but Darelle Porter said he still keeps in fairly frequent contact with James.

When I asked Porter what he remembers the most about James, he said:

“He was quick, man. He was as quick as they come. Once he learned how to use his quickness on defense, he became one of the best players in the Atlantic 10.”

 


Since the local news hook for the story was that James played for Duquesne, I naturally asked him about his alma mater and his connection to it.

 

On whether he keeps track of Duquesne much:

“I haven’t. That’s an issue I’m disappointed in myself in. I was dealing with the teams every year and even when a new coach would come in, that didn’t influence me more or less to want to be around the guys. I think now I really want to start getting myself back involved with the team and organization and just really be more of a help in trying to help these guys get over that hump.”

On what it is going to take for the school's basketball program to get over the hump:

“At the end of the day, especially in college sports, it comes down to recruiting. When you don’t have the understanding of where the good basketball players are or you don’t have a voice in those areas where the new, up-and-coming great high school athletes are and if you don’t have anyone to be able to keep you connected to them, it’s hard to compete against these big-time schools, even in the Atlantic 10. It’s hard to compete against the top teams in the Atlantic 10. That’s the biggest issue.”

 


A major reason that James hasn't retired yet is that, for the level he's playing at, he's doing quite well. He averaged 17.2 points per game last year, played in a majority of his team's games and shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range.

 

He's going to play until he feels like he can't anymore and he has yet to reach that breaking point.

“Playing with these young guys this year, everyone I played against was trying their darndest to show me why I shouldn’t be playing anymore when the game first started," James said. "And every single player in the D League that I played against, I annihilated. I’ve never been double-teamed more than I career than I was last season.

"The one thing they all couldn’t understand was my energy level. They all used to wonder how I have so much energy, like ‘What are you doing?’ That’s a credit to myself and a credit to the work I put into my body in the offseason to prepare myself for the longevity of a season.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG 

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And the new Spider-Man is ...

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

spidey558982863130dtomhollandimpossible
The torch and spider bite are being passed to Tom Holland. He will play the web-slinger in the reboot of the series, with Jon Watts directing. 
 
Holland may be familiar to moviegoers who saw “The Impossible,” in which he played the eldest son of a couple (Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) vacationing with their three boys in Thailand when a tsunami strikes. Holland, one of the Billy Elliots on the London stage, easily handled the physical and emotional rigors of the role. That is him with Watts in above photo.
 
The actor is first expected to appear in ”Captain America: Civil War” and then will star in stand-alone films starting in 2017. Holland also will appear in Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” the action adventure about the tragedy of the whaling ship Essex. 
 
The real-life maritime disaster inspired “Moby-Dick,” but the movie, also starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw,  and Brendan Gleeson, dramatizes the aftermath in which a 20-man crew set out in three small boats for South America almost 3,000 miles away. Three months later, only eight were left alive. 
 
Here is the official release: 
 
CULVER CITY, Calif., and BURBANK, Calif., June 23, 2015 – Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios are proud to announce that after a full worldwide casting search, Tom Holland will play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the next Spider-Man film, in theaters in IMAX and 3D on July 28, 2017.  The film will be directed by Jon Watts, director of Cop Car, the upcoming thriller that made its debut earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
 
Marvel and Sony Pictures, and producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal conducted an extensive search for both the actor and the director.  The studios and producers were impressed by Holland’s performances in "The Impossible," "Wolf Hall," and the upcoming "In the Heart of the Sea," and by a series of complex screen tests.  Following Marvel’s tradition of working with the brightest next wave of directors, Watts also went through multiple meetings with Feige, Pascal, and the studio, before winning the job. 
 
Commenting on the announcement, Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group chairman, “It’s a big day here at Sony. Kevin, Amy and their teams have done an incredible job.  The Marvel process is very thorough, and that’s why their results are so outstanding.  I’m confident Spider-Man will be no exception.  I’ve worked with a number of up-and-coming directors who have gone on to be superstars and believe that Jon is just such an outstanding talent.  For Spidey himself, we saw many terrific young actors, but Tom’s screen tests were special.   All in all, we are off to a roaring start.”
 
Feige commented, “As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life.  We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring.”
 
 Pascal added, “Sony, Marvel, Kevin and I all knew that for Peter Parker, we had to find a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world.  With Tom, we’ve found the perfect actor to bring Spider-Man’s story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
 
Sony Pictures will finance and release worldwide the next installment of the $4 billion Spider-Man franchise on July 28, 2017, in a film co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web-slinger.
 
Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.
 
 
 

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Penguins re-sign Kuhnhackl - 06-23-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins re-signed minor league forward Tom Kuhnhackl (above), a pending restricted free agent, to a one-year, two-way contract. It has a $575,000 salary cap hit at the NHL level. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Kuhnhakl, 23, appeared in 27 AHL games last season and scored 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists).

-EN Says: This might be Kuhnhackl's last chance with the Penguins. Drafted as a top-six style forward, Kuhnhackl has struggled to establish himself in that role at the AHL level. Granted, parts of his difficulties have been due to injuries but he was relegated to third-line duties most of last season.

-Top-six wingers don't come cheap.

-The last decade of drafts have had mixed results for the Penguins.

-Former Penguins forward Bill Thomas has joined MODO of Sweden's SHL.

-Former Wilkes/Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Jason Jaffray has joined EHC München of Germany's DEL.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Devils re-signed minor league goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a two-year two-way contract.

Atlantic Division

-Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk (right), a pending restricted free agent, has fired agent Igor Larionov.

-Lightning assistant coach George Gwozdecky is leaving the team to pursue other opportunities.

Pacific Division

-Kings forward Jarret Stoll has been charged with one felony count of drug possession, of cocaine stemming from an arrest in Las Vegas in April.

-The Canucks re-signed forward Ronalds Kenins to a one-year contract worth a total of $575,000 and minor-league forward Alex Friesen to a two-year, two-way deal. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $680,000, Kenins, 24, appeared in 30 games last season and scored 12 points (four goals, eight assists).

-EN Says: Kenins had a somewhat productive cup of coffee at the NHL level last season. He's a competitive player who has earned a one-way contract.

-The Ducks are still trying to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent forward Matt Beleskey.

-The Oilers officially fired head amateur scout Stu MacGregor, head professional scout Morey Gare, amateur scouts Brad Davis, Kent Hawley, professional scout Dave Semenko and director of coaching and special projects Billy Moores.

Norris Division

-In addition to Wednesday's awards show, the NHL will hold general manager meetings in Las Vegas Tuesday.

-Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was named general manager of Team Canada for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey tournament. Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks, Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings and Scott Salmond of Hockey Canada will be part of the management staff.

-Former Lightning/Ducks/Thrashers forward Evgeny Artyukhin (right) has joined SKA St. Petersburg of Russia's KHL.

-Former Ducks/Thrshers defenseman Mark Popovic has joined Klagenfurter AC of Austria's EBEL.

-Former Kings forward Jared Aulin has joined Rapperswil of Switzerland's NLB.

(Photos: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images, Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins)

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