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Buzzfeed

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Buzzfeed's picture of the dress was all anyone was talking about on the internet and elsewhere last Friday. Was it white and gold? Or was it blue and black? If only they had funny cats that changed colors!

030315 Buzzfeed 

 

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Rutherford: 'The Penguins have as good of a chance as any team in the Eastern Conference' - 03-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford (right) spoke with media this afternoon about two trades he made today. Defenseman Simon Despres was traded to the Ducks for defenseman Ben Lovejoy while defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and a seventh-round draft pick in 2016 were traded to the Blues for defenseman Ian Cole.

Here is the transcript:

Opening statement:

The first trade we made today was Robert Bortuzzo to St. Louis for Ian Cole and later one, very close to the deadline, about [2:40 p.m.] we made a trade for Simon Despres to Anaheim … for Ben Lovejoy. So those are the two trades. The reasons for these trades is when we looked at our defense, despite the fact that it's played pretty well to this point, we were concerned about the experience of our defense and we were looking to upgrade it a little bit, more from a veteran presence. And since Ben Lovejoy left here, he has gained great experience in Anaheim and has played extremely well and that will continue when he comes back to Pittsburgh. And in Ian Cole's case, he's been in the league and has some good experience and has played extremely well this year. We feel we've strengthened our defense after going through the process of our forwards getting more balance and depth up front. And so this is our team.

Is there concern with a lack of physicality in trading his two leaders in hits among defensemen:

“No because both guys we got are capable hitters. Clearly, the two guys we traded might be a little more aggressive on the fighting side than the two guys we got back. But as we go along here, I don't believe down the stretch of the regular season there's going to be that many games - there may be a few – that we need that and we'll have to do it as a team unit, as team toughness. But when you get to the playoffs, it's not as useful."

Did Christian Ehrhoff's health play a role in these trades?

“No. No. We're comfortable where Christian's at. It won't be long until he'll be back on a consistent basis and it was more about the experience. If you really back this up and go back to July and you look at what free agency did to this team … we lost [defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen] and those are two players that we could not fit with in our [salary] cap. They went for the big pay day. And so the team lost a couple of good experienced defensemen that are really hard to replace. In the meantime, we got Ehrhoff. We started with some younger players that have done fairly well but we just felt to have a good run in the playoffs, we needed more experience and that's why we made these two deals."

Ian Cole is a former first-round pick. Is he a reclamation project?

“Not necessarily. I mean, you're always hoping for more. But you look at St. Louis' defense, and that's a very experienced, almost star-studded defense, so you can understand why sometimes he may be in and out of the lineup. He brings good depth to our blue line. He's had a very good year this year and we hope that continues here.

The other top three teams in the Metropolitan Division, the Rangers, Islanders and Capitals each added players. Have the Penguins done enough to keep up with them?

"Oh yeah. Yeah. The Penguins have as good of a chance as any team in the Eastern Conference. As the years have gone along, we've got stronger and stronger with the additions that we've made. All the adversity that we've had to deal with and where we sit in the standings now shows what kind of team we have. For the most part, when we played those teams, we didn't have our full team. And now we're starting to get it. You saw what the added depth does for our forwards in the last game we played. And now we have added depth on defense. We have every bit of a chance as they do."

How did these deals come together?

When we looked at the market last week, all these guys weren't out there. And since that time, these names became available. I had talked to both St. Louis and Anaheim about these guys but they weren't available at the time. Anaheim decided to make a bunch of changes on defense just within the last 24 hours so that's when we jumped in on the Lovejoy thing. And the same thing with Ian Cole. That kind of came out of the blue at the end.

Several members of your staff watched Lovejoy come up with the Penguins. What differences have they seen in him since he has joined the Ducks?

"We had a very, very long meeting this morning and this afternoon because you just said, most of these people were here when Ben was here before. He was a young guy still feeling his way in the league and the Penguins at that point in time had a lot of defenseman so they could afford to move him. In the meantime, since he's gone to Anaheim, he's really blossomed. He's developed into a solid, consistent defender. So our guys felt very strong about reacquiring this player."

Was it difficult to move Despres after he finally claimed a full-time role in the NHL this season?

“He took a big step forward the first couple of months of the season and probably played better than anybody projected him to play. As time has gone on, we felt that his play had dropped off. Not necessarily his fault. Maybe he was played in situations that he wasn't comfortable with. Maybe he was playing more minutes than he cold handle in this point of his career. But when we really broke it down, if we didn't have the number of young defensemen that we presently have, then this would have been a difficult deal for us to make. But when we're sitting there with [Olli] Maatta and [Derrick] Pouliot and [Brian] Dumolin and [Scott] Harrington, at some point in time, all these guys have to get in and they all can't be put in at the same time. So that's when we had more of a comfort level, the fact that we had so many young defensemen and we were trying to get more experience.”

Was there any salary retained in this deal?

"There was in the St. Louis trade, yeah. It basically was a wash because Cole makes more money than Bortuzzo but they balanced it out exactly the same for us. … St. Louis kept salary."

---

After his press conference, Rutherford spoke with the Post-Gazette.

How much more comfortable are you with Derrick Pouliot at this stage of the season compared to when his season started after recovering from his offseason shoulder surgery?

"As each week goes buy, I get more and more comfortable. He got the late start due to the shoulder surgery. But you just look at him, if you go back to the home game against Chicago [Jan. 21], that's when he really started to show that he's starting to get confidence and a comfort level. But his foot speed now, as each week goes by, is better and better with the pace of our league which is important for him because once we know when the playoffs come, there's a whole other level of pace. But he has come along very nicely."

As you mentioned, all the young defensemen in the system made it easier to move Despres.

"Yeah. Couldn't have done it if we didn't have as many young defenseman. I wouldn't have done it. But just felt, that based on where we're at, we needed more experience on the backend. And Lovejoy has had two very good years in Anaheim and he needs to carry that over when he comes back here. He was really a late developer. And Simon could be too. But at some point in time, how many young defensemen can we put in our lineup? It could be as soon as next year, all four of those guys [are] in our lineup.”

You said Cole and Lovejoy can each play physical but they're puck movers. Is physical play not nearly as important as compared to being able to move and possess the puck in 2015?

"It depends who the opponent is and it depends what forwards they're playing with. It's important to have defense out there than can move the puck when [Crosby and Malkin] are out there. Those guys want the puck and they want to go and go on the offense. But you need shutdown guys and that was what was important to us."

(Photos: Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

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PIAA denies Chartiers Valley request to move game for McConnells ..... WPIAL championship notes

Written by Mike White on .

A look back at the WPIAL basketball championships, and a look ahead to the state playoffs

Chartiers Valley boys basketball coach Tim McConnell will have to miss his son's Senior Day with the University of Arizona team. There is a PIAA playoff game to be played.

Chartiers Valley is scheduled to play Mt. Lebanon in a PIAA Class AAAA first-round game Saturday at 2:30 at Canon-McMillan. Saturday is the day that all Class AAAA boys first-round games are played around the state. Chartiers Valley had asked the PIAA if the game could instead be played Friday, so that McConnell could travel to Arizona Saturday morning and attend Senior Day at Arizona. McConnell's son, T.J. (pictured), is the starting point guard for Arizona and the Wildcats play their final home game at 5 p.m. (eastern time).

Besides Chartiers Valley request, representatives of the WPIAL acted on Chartiers Valley's behalf and also asked the PIAA if the game could be moved up a day. This is not the WPIAL's call because it is the PIAA's tournament. But WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said Mt. Lebanon also was fine with the change.

But the PIAA decided to keep the game on Saturday. The schedule for the PIAA tournament is set a year ahead of time. PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said today there were two reasons the PIAA didn't move the game. First, it would set a precedent for other teams wanting schedule changes for whatever reason. Secondly, Lombardi said some might see it as a competitive advantage for the Char Valley-Mt. Lebanon winner in that they would get four days to prepare for their second-round game, while their opponent would get only three.

Lombardi said the PIAA gets requests every year to adjust the schedule. He said one team wanted a change this year because of a senior trip to Florida.

Maybe you have an opinion on the PIAA's decision. I hate to be a "fence sitter," but I can see both sides. I can understand Chartiers Valley asking for the schedule change and, as a father myself, I can certainly sympathize with Tim McConnell's feelings about wanting to be present for his son's senior night. That's a special thing. 

But yet I can also see why the PIAA would say no.

WPIAL MVPs, all-tourney

The WPIAL doesn't give out MVPs or name an all-tournament team for the championship games. So, I will. There are the Emmys. So may we present the Whiteys ...

MVPs

This is easy for the boys and girls. For the boys, it's Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell (pictured celebrating with his father, Tim). He scores 34 points, Matty McConnellpulls down 10 rebounds, goes over 2,000 points for his career, makes a half-court shot and leads Chartiers Valley to a win in the Class AAAA title game. The more people see the way he has played this year, the more I keep hearing this comment: "Robert Morris is getting a steal."

For the girls, the MVP is Vincentian's Brenna Wise. She is the do-everything player for Vincentian and was terrific in the Class A final, scoring 35 points and pulling down 15 rebounds while playing on her future home court. Wise is a Pitt recruit.

What's funny is how Wise's and McConnell's statistics were almost identical. McConnell was 14 of 20 from the field. Wise was 15 of 20. Wise was 3 of 4 from the free-throw line and McConnell 3 of 5. McConnell made three 3-pointers and Wise two.

ALL-TOURNAMENT BOYS 

Eddie Flohr, Chartiers Valley - Was terrific in the second half of the Class AAAA final. He hurt NA with his quickness and penetrating ability, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half.

Cole Constantino, North Allegheny - Constantino showed again why he is one of the best guards in Class AAAA, scoring 27 points for the Tigers

Josh Creach, Beaver Falls - Only a sophomore, the 6-5 Creach had 24 points and 14 rebounds. I'd say his future is pretty bright. 

Dylan Stapleton and Blake Shields, Indiana - It's tough to pick one player from Indiana because the Little Indians were so well-balanced. But Stapleton (pictured going against Creach) had 15 points and made the pass to his brother, Riley, for the winning basket. Shields had 14 points.

Stephon McGinnis, Aliquippa - 22 points in the Quips' Class AA win.

Kazeon Pugh, Aliquippa - Only scored 11 points, but his physical play was a major factor, especially in the second half. Had 12 rebounds.

Ryan Norkus, Seton-LaSalle - Had 25 points, including 16 in the first quarter.

Justice Rice, Monessen and Noah Rullo, Monessen - It was a little R&R for the Hounds. Rice scored 22 and Rullo 22 for the Class A champs.

Julian Batts, Jeannette - Point guard had 15 points despite being "Hounded" by defenders. 

ALL-TOURNAMENT GIRLS

Alayna Gribble, Norwin - Has been gigantic all year for Norwin and was big in title game with 21 points, including three 3-pointers.

Desiree Oliver, Penn Hills - It was a rough night for Penn Hills against Norwin, but Oliver had 17 points.

Emily Anderson, South Fayette - Anderson is 6 feet 3 and she's not just a tall drink of water with no talent. Colleges should be interested in her. Despite playing on an injured knee, she still had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Chassidy Omogrosso and Courtney Vannoy, Blackhawk - There can't be many better inside-outside punches in WPIAL. Omogrosso scored 26 points to finish off a great tournament. She averaged 31.5 points in four playoff games. Vannoy (pictured to the left) also was a big factor with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Nicolette Newman, Seton-LaSalle - This sharpshooting guard had four 3-pointers and 16 points as the Rebels rolled past Bishop Canevin.

Maia Joiner, Vincentian - Vincentian isn't all Wise. Joiner had 13 points for the Royals.

Sam Breen, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic - There wasn't much to cheer about for the North Catholic faithful against Vincentian. But Breen still had a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Notes and anecdotes

***** The Aliquippa boys team would have been good this season without Stephon McGinnis, who transferred from Ambridge to Aliquippa in the middle of football season. Not to take anything from the Quips and the job coach Nick Lackovich did as a second-year coach. But I seriously doubt whether Aliquippa would be undefeated if McGinnis would have stayed at Ambridge.

**** And what if McGinnis would have stayed at Ambridge, a team that made it to the semifinals? Would we be talking about the Bridgers' first title since 1967 and not Indiana as the WPIAL AAA champs?

**** I thought it about it late Friday after the game. Considering the way the game was played, considering the talent, considering the way it ended and the storylines, the Indiana-Beaver Falls game should go down as one of the best in WPIAL history. It most certainly is one of the best I have seen in more than 30 years of covering WPIAL title games.

**** Isn't it about time Joe Salvino gets recognized as an outstanding coach? I think he is under-appreciated, but the guy has more than 500 wins and five WPIAL titles. 

**** Indiana and its championship is one of the "neatest" stories in WPIAL basketball in a while.

**** Vincentian's 74-35 victory against North Catholic was the biggest blowout ever in a WPIAL Class A girls final.

**** It was interesting to hear Chassidy Omogrosso and Bridgette Shaffer talk to the media after winning a second consecutive WPIAL title and hear them say that winning the state title feels so much bigger. But that's all in your experiences. If they hadn't won the WPIAL before, it would've been gigantic for Blackhawk.

**** No knock against Omogrosso, a wonderful player. But it amazes me how she is so right-hand dominant and yet no one can stop her from scoring tons of points. 

**** Best first-round game involving WPIAL teams is Chartiers Valley boys against Mt. Lebanon. The Blue Devils beat Chartiers Valley in triple overtime earlier this year.

Chartiers Valley has a tough road. If the Colts would get by Mt. Lebanon, which won't be easy, it's likely they would play City League champion Allderdice, which plays Fox Chapel in a first-round game. Believe me when I tell you Allderdice has enough to beat Chartiers Valley.

**** I would say of the WPIAL four boys champions, Aliquippa has the best chance of winning a state championship in Class AA.

**** In the eight classifications (boys and girls), the WPIAL has three teams ranked No. 1 in the state in the Pennlive.com rankings - the Aliquippa boys (AA), and and the Blackhawk (AAA) and Vincentian (A) girls.

 

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Penguins add Lovejoy, Cole; Deal away Despres, Bortuzzo - 03-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins' defense has undergone a facelift.

In a stunning trade, former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy has been reacquired from the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Simon Despres (above).

Loveoy, 31, has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.1 million and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2016 offseason. In 40 games this season, Lovejoy (6-foot-1, 206 pounds) has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists). He has averaged 18:33 of ice time this season.

Undrafted out of college, Lovejoy initially joined the Penguins as a free agent in 2007 and spent parts of six seasons with the Penguins before being dealt early in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2013. He has spent most of the past three seasons with Anaheim.

Despres, 23, has one-year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000 and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2016 offseason. In 59 games this season, Despres (6-foot-4, 214 pounds) has 17 points (two goals, 15 assists). He has averaged 16:22 of ice time this season.

The Penguins' first-round pick (No. 30) in 2009, Despres spent the past six seasons in the Penguins' organization. This season, while teamed primarily with Rob Scuderi on defense, Despres has emerged as the team's most physical defenseman and led the team with 184 hits.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Penguins acquired defenseman Ian Cole (right) from the Blues in exchange for defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and a seventh-round pick in 2016.

Cole, 26, is in the final year of a contract with a salary cap hit of $825,000. He is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. Cole (6-foot-1, 219 pounds) has appeared in 54 games this season and has nine points (four goals, five assists). He has averaged 15:03 of ice time this season. A first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in 2007, Cole has spent the past eight seasons with the Blues organization.

Bortuzzo, 25, is in the final year of a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,000. He is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. In 38 games this season, Bortuzzo (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) has six points (two goals, four assists). He has averaged 15:27 of ice time this season. He was second among Penguins' defenseman with 116 hits. A third-round pick in 2007, Bortuzzo has spent the past eight seasons with the organization.

General manager Jim Rutherford St. Louis retained some salary in the Cole trade but did not get into specific figures.

---

We have quotes from Jim Rutherford and will transcribe ASAP. Here was his opening statement at today's press conference:

 

"The first trade we made today was Robert Bortuzzo to St. Louis for Ian Cole and later one, very close to the deadline, about [2:40 p.m.] we made a trade for Simon Despres to Anaheim … for Ben Lovejoy. So those are the two trades. The reasons for these trades is when we looked at our defense, despite the fact that it's played pretty well to this point, we were concerned about the experience of our defense and we were looking to upgrade it a little bit, more from a veteran presence. And since Ben Lovejoy left here, he has gained great experience in Anaheim and has played extremely well and that will continue when he comes back to Pittsburgh. And in Ian Cole's case, he's been in the league and has some good experience and has played extremely well this year. We feel we've strengthened our defense after going through the process of our forwards getting more balance and depth up front. And so this is our team."

 

---

-A few highlights for Cole:

-And Lovejoy:

-EN says: Puck possession > Physical play. That's how this day can be evaluated for the Penguins.

Collectively, Lovejoy and Cole are better with the puck than Despres and Bortuzzo. Under Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston, the Penguins have stressed puck possession above everything else.

But the Penguins just got a lot less physical on defense. We don't know how accurate of a barometer hit statistics are or even if it's truly relevant, but here are the Penguins' hit leaders on defense this season:

Despres for Lovejoy? We don't understand this. Despres has broken out as the team's most physical defenseman on a roster which is light on physical play to begin with. Lovejoy has found his game in Anaheim and has become a far more stable NHLer than he ever was with the Penguins. But he's not nearly as valuable as Despres in the immediate or future sense.

This trade makes the Penguins older and less physical. Additionally, it breaks up what has been the Penguins most stable defensive duo with Despres and Scuderi.

While we do like the other trade, Bortuzzo was the team's second-most physical defenseman. Ian Cole has some size, but he is not going to be confused with Bortuzzo in size of play.

Assuming the Penguins have to play a physical forechecking team in the postseason like the Capitals, Rangers or Islanders, who is going to do battle in the high traffic areas with the likes of Tom Wilson, Chris Kreider or Matt Martin?

Acknowledging that, we do like the Cole trade in that he is a superior overall talent to Bortuzzo (right). Cole was a high-end prospect at one time but has never quite found a way to nail down a regular role with the Blues. Bortuzzo is never going to be anything more than a No. 6 of 7 defenseman. Cole has the ability to be a No. 3 of 4. It's just a matter of him getting the results.

It almost reminds us of how Matt Niskanen was a reclamation project when he initially came to the Penguins.

Additionally, Cole is a restricted free agent this offseason. If the Penguins lose Paul Martin or Christian Ehrhoff as restricted free agents this offseason, Cole is nice insurance to replace them.

One would assume assistant coach Gary Agnew, a former assistant in St. Louis, had some input on this trade.

These trades certainly bode well for the immediate future of Derrick Pouliot. Last night, he was placed on the team's top power-play unit and came through with a goal.

Additionally, with Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington in the system, moving a young player like Despres easier.

Time will tell if the Penguins are better off with this deal. For the time being, they are clearly in a better position with regards to handling the puck but they took a big step back in terms of playing physical.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Drew Hallowell/Getty Images and Harry How/Getty Images)

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Syria Mosque or other Pittsburgh places that are no longer there

Written by Jacob Quinn Sanders on .

Enrico Caruso performed there. So did Jascha Heifetz. And Frank Sinatra. And Bob Dylan, the Ramones, Jane’s Addiction and Biz Markie.

But the Syria Mosque has been nothing but a UPMC parking lot in Oakland since 1991. It opened in 1916, the year German zeppelins first bombed Paris during World War I.

 

While it stood, nine board members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were arrested for organizing a Sunday performance there in 1926 in violation of Blue Laws. As it came down, retired state Sen. Jim Ferlo, then a Pittsburgh city councilman, was arrested with three others trying to prevent its demolition.

 

It was a bit of an odd building. James D. Van Trump, who co-founded the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Commission in 1964, described it this way in his “Life And Architecture In Pittsburgh,” published in 1983:

 

“Stylistically, it is a curious mixture of 121 Byzantine and Arabic elements, and its striped, two-toned brown brick walls remind one curiously of both Hagia Sophia, the great sixth-century church at Constantinople, and a large Viennese mocha torte.”

The Shriners sold the Syria Mosque’s two acres for $10 million in 1991, a million dollars less than it would have cost to renovate and upgrade the place. By then it was a Pittsburgh landmark, as much or more so than Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum across the street, which opened five years earlier.

 

Thousands of shows. Thousands more people who saw them. And then it all came down.

John Philip Sousa performed there. Leonard Bernstein unveiled his Symphony No. 1 there. Count Basie played his last show there. Zappa. Springsteen. R.E.M. Public Enemy.

 

And maybe you. If you have photos of the Syria Mosque, from a show or just because, please share them with us and with the rest of the PG’s readers. You can upload them here.

 

 

 

 

 

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