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Empty Netter Assists - Penguins recall Oleksy, Sestito - 05-04-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Capitals

-The Penguins recalled defenseman Steve Olesky (above) and defenseman Tom Sestito from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Olesky, 30, appeared in 63 AHL games this season and had 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) and a team-leading 123 penalty minutes. Sestito, 28, has played in 41 AHL games this season and had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and 104 penalty minutes, second most on the team. In four NHL games this season, he had one assist and 19 penalty minutes.

-EN Says: With defenseman Kris Letang suspended and right winger Bryan Rust possibly sidelined due to a "lower-body" injury, these are interesting would-be replacements. Both players clearly bring an element of toughness to the table and have seemingly been recalled as some sort of response to the Capitals' antics through the first three games of this series. Still, it's hard to see either of these limited players actually getting into the lineup. Head coach Mike Sullivan likes both players but we can't see him trusting either of them with substantial ice time.

-Letang was suspended one game for interference against Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Game 3

-How do the Penguins possibly replace Letang?

-“That’s fine. I haven’t played in a month now. What’s important is us winning. Matty’s giving us a chance to win every night he’s been in there. I’ll stay ready. I’ll encourage him. It’s not a personal game. It’s a team game.” - Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on serving as a backup to goaltender Matt Murray.

-Johansson missed practice due to an "upper-body" injury.

-After the Jump: The Lightning take a 2-1 series lead.

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47 Stops

Written by Rob Rogers on .

These Stanley Cup playoffs are pretty exciting. The Capitals outplayed the Penguins on Monday night. If not for one rookie goalie, all hope would have been lost. Now the rest of the team has to step up. GO PENS! 

20160504 47 Stops

 

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A look at the case of five football players who transferred from Ambridge

Written by Mike White on .

 

Just by sheer numbers, the case of the Ambridge football transfers was unusual. Maybe one of a kind.

Within the past two months, five players left Ambridge and transferred to other schools. These weren’t just any players. The starting quarterback, the two leading rushers, the leading receiver and the only returning lineman all transferred. And maybe there will be a few more leaving.

Even WPIAL boss Tim O’Malley said the league had never seen a case like this.

It turns out four of the players will be eligible to play at their new schools, but one will be ineligible.

The WPIAL board of directors made the rulings after five separate hearings with the players Tuesday to determine if their transfers were for athletic intent, which is against WPIAL and PIAA rules. After the hearings, the board ruled receiver-defensive back Isaiah McNair is ineligible to play football at Quaker Valley this upcoming season because he transferred at least partly for athletic intent.

The WPIAL ruled the other four players eligible for this season - junior RB-DB Davion Jones and his cousin, FB-LB Tariq Jones, at Aliquippa; junior QB Austin French at Beaver Falls; sophomore lineman John Prentice at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

Below is some background on the cases. But first some comments from O’Malley and new Ambridge coach Terry George.

Ambridge had contested all the transfers, claiming they were for athletic intent. They claimed the transfers were because of turmoil in the Ambridge program with Dan Bradley resigning as coach and George being hired. At the hearings, George told the WPIAL the transfers were made because the players were worried the team would struggle next year because only one lineman was returning (Prentice). Four of the five who transferred are skill-position players and have some talent.

But O’Malley said the board of directors felt there wasn’t enough evidence from Ambridge to prove athletic intent.

“There has to be objective substantiated evidence. That’s what the transfer rule is based on,” said O’Malley. “It can’t be an opinion. It can’t be ‘we think.’ The difference with the McNair situation is there was some evidence.”

In the McNair case, Ambridge presented evidence of a Feb. 23 tweet from Case Riemer, the boyfriend of McNair’s mother who also trains McNair. The tweet was made in reference to Bradley and it said, “funny how u lie to teenagers that ur in charge of. Glad we found out in time to get the boys out.”

O’Malley was asked about how coincidental it was that the leases for residences of a few of the players all expired in March.

 “If you connect the dots, the court of public opinion might be … But from an evidentiary standpoint, nothing was established that would give an indication that the board should vote that [athletic intent was involved],” said O’Malley.

It should be pointed out that neither Ambridge or the WPIAL felt Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Quaker Valley or North Catholic in any way recruited the players.

Now, comments from George, who is also a teacher at the school:

“These student-athletes’ decisions had nothing to do with me,” said George. “I was on good terms with all of them. My intentions are to never hurt anyone who wants to make a decision to leave the school for one reason or another. But at the same time, I’m hired by the district to instill a quality program with some pride and in doing so, we have to keep our enrolled students in our district.

“Sometimes it’s hard to create evidence. It’s probably easier to hide your reason for whatever decision you make. For our school district to pull up evidence is hard. Throughout our student body, the talk has been the players were leaving because they thought the football team was going to be bad. But that’s hard to prove.”

George said two more Ambridge players have indicated they are waiting to see what the WPIAL rules before they decide to transfer.

“There’s not much I can do about that,” said George. “But I do believe the decision the WPIAL made will have a lot to do with the future of some other student athletes.”

McNair, both Joneses and French all elected to have their hearings open to the media. North Catholic elected to close the Prentice hearing to the media.

It was up to the WPIAL to decide if it was mere coincidence that these players all left within a short period of time.

*Davion Jones and his family said he transferred to Aliquippa because his mother and father separated in January and his father moved to Aliquippa. So Davion moved in with his father and enrolled at Aliquippa in March.

*Tariq Jones said he moved to the Aliquippa district with his father. Jones’ father said he had to move to his parents home in Aliquippa to take care of his brother. Jones’ father said his parents are moving to California in the summer.

*French lived with his mother in Ambridge, but French’s mother said she moved into her childhood home in the Beaver Falls district with her son and daughter for personal reasons. The family now resides in the same Beaver Falls home as French’s grandparents.

*McNair’s mother said she moved from Ambridge to the Quaker Valley district with her son and daughter because it is a better school than Ambridge. McNair’s mother also said the family considered moving last September.

There is no doubt these players will have some kind of an impact in football at their new schools. Maybe a big impact. Tariq Jones was an all-conference linebacker in Class AAA. Davion Jones rushed for more than 700 yards last year at Ambridge.

The WPIAL certainly had a point in saying there wasn’t much evidence to rule against the players. But you wonder what message some disenchanted high school athletes from other schools will get from these rulings. 

“The decisions have been made and we’ll move forward,” said George. “You just hope something like this doesn’t happen to a smaller school than us because it could kill football in that school.”

 

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Letang suspended one game for hit on Johansson - 05-03-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was suspended one game by the NHL for his high hit against Capitals left winger Marcus Johnsson during Game 3 of their second round series Monday.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety produced a video explaining the suspension:

Patrick Burke, director the NHL's Department of Player Safety, states:

“Johansson retrieves a pass from a teammate at his own blue and and leads a rush into the Penguins' zone. Johansson hits the Penguins' blue line as several Penguins backcheckers converge on him. Letang steps up to pressure Johansson who crossed the blue and immediately moves the puck to a teammate. After Johansson moves the puck, Letang delivers a high forceful hit that makes significant head contact. This is interference.

It is important to note that Johansson is not eligible to be checked on this play. Players who are not in possession of the puck, are never eligible to be checked. However, the interference rule provides a brief window during which a player who initiates a hit while his opponent is in possession of a puck may legally finish a check. This is not such a case. Letang initiates this hit after Johansson releases the puck and contact is made outside the allowable window during which a player may finish a check.

It is also important to note that while Letang does come off the ice after contact, this is not a case of charging in which a player launches up and into his opponents head in a predatory fashion. Letang's skates are on the ice through contact and leave the ice in part due to the force of the hit. This is not an illegal check to the head. While there is significant head contact here, the head is not the main point of contact.

It is the combination of the lateness of this hit and the significant head contact that causes this hit to rise to the level of supplemental discipline."

While Johansson skipped practice today for what was termed an "upper-body" injury, the video states he suffered no apparent injury.

Letang's history of supplemental discipline is noted as well. His only previous suspension came in 2011-12 for a hit from behind against Jets center Alexander Burmistrov:

EN Says: The NHL appears to have gotten this one correct. The criteria for this being a offense worth of suspension are all laid out. The threshold the NHL has for allowing an offensive player to be hit by a defensive player after releasing a puck is razor thin and Letang appears to have clearly exceeded it. 

In this sense, it almost reminds us of the hit former Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo delivered on former Devils right winger Jaromir Jagr last season:

Bortuzzo earned a two-game suspension for that hit.

It's impossible to not look at Letang's suspension within the context of what has gone on in this series. Specifically, we're talking about the hit by Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik which injured Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta in Game 2 which injured Maatta and earned Orpik a three-game suspension.

After Capitals coach Barry Trotz was critical of the Orpik suspension Monday, there was no way the NHL was not going to take some sort of action on Letang for this violation. Given that this hit didn't lead to an injury nearly as significant as Maatta's, one game seems fair in comparison to the three games Orpik was suspended for.

Letang's absence for Game 4 will clearly have a major impact on the Penguins' lineup. Given that he usually plays in excess of 25 minutes a game, they won't truly replace him. 

And when you assume Maatta's injury will be sidelined for Game 4, the Penguins will be playing without their top defensive pairing for Game 4.

Defensemen Trevor Daley and Derrick Pouliot served as the Penguins' second pairing for most of Game 3. Daley has peformed well this season anytime Letang was absent and even served as the team's power-play quarterback during those instances. He's a capable, savvy veteran who is an ideal fit for how this team wants its back end to play. But expecting him to truly replace Letang is not fair.

Pouliot will likely see a significant increase in ice time as well. A healthy scratch for the better part of two months, he played a solid but hardly spectacular game in Game 2. A first-round pick in 2012, various coaching staffs have been slow to trust him with too much responsibility at the NHL level. There might not be any choice but to do so in Game 4.

Justin Schultz will presumably dress for Game 4 as well. Acquired at the trade deadline, he seemed to also be a natural fit for the Penguins' style of play. An aggressive offensive defenseman with a strong shot, he could boost the Penguins' power play which has gone 0 for 10 this series. He has not played since Game 1 of the first-round series against the Rangers.

Schultz could be reunited with defenseman Ian Cole as they found some chemistry down the stretch of the regular season while Brian Dumoulin and Ben Lovejoy, a duo used as a "shutdown pair" under previous coach Mike Johnston, could also be reunited.

The Penguins have some solid options to fill the void during Letang's absence but they will be a significantly lesser team in Game 4 without him. This will be a great opportunity for the Capitals to tie this series.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Trendsburgh: What were yinz tweeting n'at this week?

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

 20151122DHSunsetMtWashingtonStandalone-1

(Dominique Hildebrand/Post-Gazette)

Welcome to Trendsburgh! Every Monday-Friday at 4 p.m., we'll give you a quick recap of what was trending on Twitter and/or Facebook here in the 'Burgh throughout the day. 

This week: May 2-May 6

Thursday

20160504pdPenguinsSports07

(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

Gerrit Cole

Yes, the Penguins won Game 4 Wednesday night, but it was the Pirates pitcher who stole the show on social media, mainly with said .gif below being shared across all platforms.

gerritcole

Athletes — they're just like us! (Or at least when it comes to cheering on the Penguins)

Also worth mentioning: Crosby, Malkin, Trevor Daley and Game 4 were all top trending topics.

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Power Rangers

Hmmm..... 

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Cinco de Mayo

Another day, another Americanized holiday!

And then there's this.....

Leading to this reaction from Pittsburgh's Las Velas

Including one from yours truly

Some analysis

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Hunter Osborn

The 19-year-old started making the rounds earlier this week, but today it was good news

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Viral video(s) making rounds:

Meet Cirque du Soleil artist Wayne Skivington aka "Super Dad." (Yup, he's a dad)  

Be right back, gonna go eat some celery while running on the treadmill for hours after watching this.

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Wednesday

Cubs Pirates Baseball-2

(Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

Cubs

Losing one game is one thing, but getting swept by (new) rival Chicago Cubs? A couple of hot takes from today's loss:

And probably our favorite:

The older brother being the St. Louis Cardinals and younger brother being, well, the Cubs.

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#MayThe4thBeWithYou

That's right, let your inner Star Wars nerd out. Too many great tweets put out there today, these only do the hashtag a little bit of justice.

No shame....we also got in on it

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Jane Jacobs

JaneJacobs100

If you Googled anything today, you probably saw the search engine's tribute to the Canadian and American journalist/author/activist. Born in Scranton, Pa., she would have been 100-years-old today. 

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John Kasich

Also worth a read:

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Viral video(s) making rounds:

Ted Cruz just can't catch a break

Also, not to add insult to injury to you Pirates fans, but we have to give credit here to this Cubs minor-league player:

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Tuesday

hamilton8-1

(Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

#TonyAwards

No surprise here: "Hamilton" set a record with 16 Tony Award nominations.

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Letang

The Penguins defenseman was — as expected — suspended for one game for his hit Monday night on Capitals player Marcus Johansson.

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#whitewashedOUT

This tweet says it all:

Leading to reactions/conversations like these: 

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Afeni Shakur

The mother of Tupac Shakur passed away today at the age of 69. The #DearMama hashtag was also trending in her honor, named for a song Tupac wrote for Afeni. 

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Lee Harvey Oswald

We kid you not, this is a thing.

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Viral video making rounds:

Radiohead, the English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire is back! They released a new song and video.

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Monday 

Penguins Captials Hockey

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Barry Trotz

The Washington Capitals coach got the Penguins fan base riled up in saying he was disappointed with the length of Brooks Orpik's suspension, but was "not surprised based on who we're playing and all that."

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#TeacherAppreciationWeek

Fictional or real, teachers were being, well, appreciated on all social media platforms.

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Space Jam 2

We know, we know. There's been rumors about a sequel since the first one was released in 1996 (yup, gonna be 20 years in November). But this time they're looking to be true... 

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HBCU

Forbes' article — What is the role of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the 21st century? — drew a good amount of conversation, including debates about HBCUs and PWIs (Predominately White Institutions). 

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#GameOnPGH

Another year, another successful Pittsburgh Marathon for the thousands that took part— even if it was a little bit wet.

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Viral video making rounds:

President Barack Obama's White House Correspondents Dinner 2016 jokes 

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