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Fare thee well - 08-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, late-night television fascinated me. Having a fairly strict bedtime of 11:30 p.m. on school nights, the rare occasions I could watch Johnny Carson, David Letterman or Conan O'Brien were pretty special to me. 

There was all this great stuff on TV after the local news? And it's on every night?

The fact that these shows were on five days a week is what I really connected with. These shows were there every weeknight even if they were occasionally reruns. That reliability was something I marveled at.

When Carson died in 2005, Letterman eulogized him by comparing him to being something akin to a "public utility." 

Two years later, when given the opportunity to start my own hockey blog, I decided to treat it like a talk show in that I wanted it to have something every day of the week.

Like a public utility.

Regardless if a reader thought I was spot on, nuts, ignorant, idiotic, etc., the one thing I wanted to always be was reliable in ensuring Empty Netters was updated ever single day of the year - even in August when I took vacation.

For the last 3,456 days, I've tried to earn your trust by ensuring this little corner of the Internet had something new and fresh to read.

Sadly, there won't be a 3,457th day.

Empty Netters has been discontinued. 

When this blog began Feb. 14, 2007, I had absolutely no idea what would happen over the next nine and a half years. All I knew was that I had a chance to write some words about a sport I as passionate about with a byline.

It ended up being something which changed my life and provided me with so much on a personal and professional level.

I still have to pinch myself in order to realize I've been able to cover three Stanley Cup Finals, three outdoor games and vote on major NHL awards.

Writing this blog and covering hockey has been a dream job.

I've always been a big believer in that no matter what success you've enjoyed in any endeavor, you've likely had help along the way. I'm certainly no exception.

(Note: If I've forgotten a name, don't take it personally and blame it on a feeble memory.)

First and foremost, I've had a very supportive family. My mom, Mary, reads every day even if she didn't know how many periods there are in a hockey game. My dad, Jim, read every day before his eyesight went on him. And my brother, Kyle, always offered a kind word for what I wrote.

Friends put up with me skipping countless weddings, birthday parties or other gatherings in order to cover mostly meaningless games against the Lightning and Hurricanes. My former roommate Derek Kassimer allowed me to commandeer his laptop for several months in the early days of the blog. 

Several co-workers helped this become a reality. Dan Gigler pushed for me to do a hockey blog and helped come up with so many of the base elements of Empty Netters, including the name.

Editors Donna Eyring, Mary Leonard and Jerry Micco gave the green light to this blog and displayed a lot of patience with me on several occasions when I probably didn't deserve it. Others who helped in various ways include Shelly Anderson, Gener Collier, Peter Diana, Tim Dunham, Michael Elek, Jody Farr, Ray Fittipaldo, Matt Kennedy, Kim Lyons, Jenn Menendez, Linda Parker, Carl Remensky, Mila Sanina and Pete Zapadka.

Few people have meant more to me on a personal and professional level than Dave Molinari. He is a far better human than he is writer ... and he's literally a hall-of-fame writer. He has taught me so much ranging from how to describe a play on the ice to how to conduct an interview on the phone to just how to treat people. I couldn't possibly repay him if I had 100 lifetimes to do so.

One thing I will desperately miss in writing this blog is the camaraderie I have with other writers, bloggers and media types who cover hockey. Ian Altebaugh, Natasha Andjelkovic, Christian Arnold, Arpon Basu, Amalie Benjamin, Jonathan Bernier, Per Bjurman, Scott Burnside, Adam Caldwell, Katie Carrera, Dmitry Chesnokov, Mike Colligan, Vince Comunale, Josh Cooper, Nick Cotsonika, Wes Crosby, Lisa Dillman, Mike "Doc" Emrick, Erik Erlendsson, Helene Elliott, Harvey Fialkov, Sean Fitz-Gerald, Elliotte Friedman, Will Graves, Sean Gentile, Dennis Gorman, Andrew Gross, Adam Gretz, Tom Gulitti, Darren Haynes, Bill Hoppe, Eric Hornik, Chris Johnston, Matt Kalman, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Kirill Kisselev, Terry Koshan, Paul Kukla, Kevin Kurz, Seth Lakso, Mark Lazerus, Sean Leahy, Pierre LeBrun, Guillaume Lefrançois, Pat Leonard, Corey Masisak, Jesse Marshall, Joe McDonald, Sarah McLellan, Shawn Mitchell, James Mirtle, Craig Morgan, Kristen Odland, Murray Pam, Aaron Portzline, Dan Potash, Alex Prewitt, George Richards, Derek Rocco, Dan Rosen, Jon Rosen, Michael Russo, Jeremy Rutherford, Frank Saravalli, Dan Scifo, Arthur Staple, Tom Vanesky, Stephen Whyno, Greg Wyshynski, Joe Yerdon, Mike Zeisberger are people I have had the fortune of become familiar with and I am a better person for it. Other writers with competing media outlets which I am not permitted to mention in this forum are also among others I consider close professional friends.

I've also been fortunate to do a little radio and television despite having a face and voice meant for print. Chris Mack was the very first person brave enough to have me on the air back with the defunct ESPN 1250. Bob Pompeani and Mike Vukovcan have been brave enough to put me on television. Others who have been generous in allowing me on the radio include Randy Bauman, Jim Colony, Adam Crowley, Tab Douglas, Colin Dunlap, Jeff Hathorn, Joe Lodanosky, Mark Madden, Chris Mueller, Mike Prisuta, Michael Remis, Stan Savran, Mike Steele, David Todd, George Von Benko, John Walton and Paul Zeise. 

Specifically covering the Penguins, several team and arena employees have been key in any success I've enjoyed. Those people include Wayne "Gretzky" Anderson, Jennifer Bullano-Ridgely, Frank Buomo, Brian Coe, Mike Davenport, Chris DeVivo, Pat Dougherty, Bob Errey, Bob Grove, Erik Heasley, Thomas Grimm, Dana Heinze, Vinny Karpuszka, Sam Kasan, Steve Kolbe, Tom McMillan, Ryan Mill, Steve Mears, Mike O'Brien, Katie O'Malley, Tim Priano, Teddy Richards, Joe Sager, Jason Seidling, Paul Steigerwald, Ray Walker and Bill Wareham. 

Two members of the Penguins I'd like to point out are radio broadcasters Mike Lange and Phil Bourque. For someone who has been working in either radio or television covering the Penguins, the level of detail Mike puts into his craft is something to behold. He treats every game with the same level of importance. Phil, his partner, goes the extra mile in finding all kind of little extra bits of information from either team after morning skates. Mike and Phil aren't excellent broadcasters by accident. They put an extraordinary amount of effort into their vocation.

Several players and management such as Craig Adams, Mike Bales, Andy Bathgate, Beau Bennett, Paul Bissonnette, Nick Bonino, Robert Bortuzzo, Jason Botterill, Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Taylor Chorney, Adam Clendening, Ian Cole, Blake Comeau, Matt Cullen, Brian Dumoulin, Pascal Dupuis, Deryk Engelland, Bobby Farnham, Eric Fehr, Tom Fitzgerald, Marc-Andre Fleury, Tanner Glass, Tony Granato, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin, Dustin Jeffrey, Brent Johnson, Mike Johnston, Jussi Jokinen, Rob Klinkhammer, Chuck Kobasew, Tom Kuhnhackl, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, Ben Lovejoy, Olli Maatta, Jayson Megna, Brenden Morrow, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, David Perron, Taylor Pyatt, Todd Reirden, Jack Riley, Mike Rupp, Bryan Rust, Jim Rutherford, Justin Schultz, Rob Scuderi, Conor Sheary, Ray Shero, Zach Sill, Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak, Dominik Uher, (the great) Joe Vitale, Tomas Vokoun, Scott Wilson and Jeff Zatkoff have also each played a role in making this job enjoyable.

Above all else, its readers who should get the most credit for what Empty Netters was. You were the ultimate justification for so many of the things I was able to do. The fact that so many people - without prompting - will point out a Jersey Foul or that the Staals are brothers or #FireRayShero or any of the other silly little memes which have come to life through Empty Netters .... it's staggering.

Readers who have been big supporters over the years include Mike Anitori, Brooks Batten, Rachael and Wendy Bishop, Mike Bober, Maria Boggia, Lisa Bohm, Geoffrey Chin, Cy and Joanne Clark, Craig Cross, Brenna and Joe Dykta, Uli Englhart, Chris Esposito, John Falcone, Joy Fredrick, Caitlin Harkenrider, Melinda Harty, Zoe Hayden, Gene Hlavac, Howard Herman, Lauren Hopkins, Michael Ryan Janicki, Justin Kelly, Elizabeth Krenzelok, Bernardo Mainou, Eric Majeski, Bill Maloni, Steve Mazefsky, T.J. McAloon, Ron Michalek, Lowell Murray, Eric Naughton, Luiz Mello, Bob and Jarrett Rathke, Ed Rohm, Mike Salvio, Brian Schaich, Judd Stricker, Joe Tabor, Rob Ullman, Adam, Ann and Sue Vrabel, Lisa Weir and Kelli Zappas. Other readers who I primarily know through Twitter include bastage42, Sieve70 and redbuppy who has been invaluable when it comes to volunteer copy editing.

In nine years, I've been able to develop relationships with so many people. That has been the greatest reward in what has been a dream job. Those relationships motivated me to ensure there was something here for you to read every day. 

To all of you who have read, enjoyed or even disagreed with anything I have offered, you have given me far more than I'll ever give you.

Thank you.

 

This is a hell of a way to pay the bills.

A photo posted by Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters) on

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Lovejoy gets the Cup - 08-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-It was former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy's turn with the Stanley Cup:

-Lovejoy will share the Stanley Cup with fans today at Dartmouth College's Thompson Arena

-Happy 69th birthday to former all-star Penguins center Syl Apps, Jr. (right). Acquired along with defenseman Sheldon Kannegiesser in one of the best trades in franchise history midway through the 1970-71 season (Left winger Glen Sather went to the Rangers in exchange), Apps spent parts of eight seasons with the Penguins. Following the trade, Apps produced a respectable 25 points in 31 games for the Penguins. In his first full season in Pittsburgh in 1971-72, he led the team with 59 points in 72 games. Coach Red Kelly teamed Apps with left winger Lowell MacDonald and right winger Jean Pronovost to form the Century Line in 1972-73. Apps would lead the team with 85 points in 77 games that season. Apps once again produced 85 points in 75 games in 1973-74. Selected to his only all-star game in 1974-75, Apps scored 79 points in 79 games. His finest season came in 1975-76 when he scored a career-high 99 points in 80 games. Apps' numbers began to tumble in 1976-77 only scored 61 points in 72 contests. After only seven assists in nine games, Apps and right winger Hartland Monahan were sent to the Kings in exchange for left winger Dave Schultz, center Gene Carr and a draft pick. Inducted into the Penguins' hall of fame in 1994, Apps played in 495 games with the team and scored 500 points (151 goals, 349 assists), ninth-most in franchise history. He was the team's single-season scoring leader three times. Only center Mario Lemieux, right winger Jaromir Jagr and center Sidney Crosby have accomplished that feat more often. In 19 postseason games, he scored eight points.

-Happy 53rd birthday to former Penguins goaltender Wendell Young (right). Originally acquired prior to the 1988-89 season when he was acquired from the Flyers along with a draft pick in exchange for another draft pick, Young spent parts of parts of five seasons over two stints in Pittsburgh. In 1988-89, Young appeared in 22 games and went 12-9-0 with a 4.80 goals against average and .863 save percentage. Young served as the team's primary starter in 1989-90 by playing in 43 games and going 16-20-3 with a 4.17 goals against average, .873 save percentage and recorded the team's only shutout. Young would only see action in 18 games in 1990-91. He had a record of 4-6-2 with a 4.04 goal against average and .879 save percentage and eventually got his name on the Stanley Cup for the franchise's first championship. In 1991-92, Young once again played in 18 games. His record was 7-6-0 with a 3.89 goals against average and .889 save percentage and once again had his name engraved on the Cup. Claimed by the Lightning during the 1992 expansion draft, Young would spent parts of two seasons with that franchise before being traded back to the Penguins early in the 1994-95 season. In 10 games that campaign, Young went 3-6-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .894 save percentage. In 111 games with the Penguins, Young had a 42-47-5 record with a 4.14 goal against average and .876 save percentage. He is currently the general manager of the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

Central Division

-The Avalanche re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie to a four-year contract worth $22 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.6 million, Barrie's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.5 million. Barrie, 25, appeared in 78 games last season and scored 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists). 

-EN Says: Given the Avalanche's lack of puck-moving defensemen, Barrie might be one of the most valuable defenders in the league. A right-handed shot, Barrie can skate the puck and boom it from the point. He's more than worth this contract.

-"I didn't have even one thought of leaving this place. I fell in love with Dallas, Texas ever since I got down here [in 2009]. I have all the belief in [Stars general manager] Jim Nill and the coaching staff around here that we're going to do something special." - Stars captain/forward Jamie Benn on recently signing an eight-year, $76 million contract extension.

-Former Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is still trying to find his identity with the Blues.

Pacific Division

-According to the Boston Globe, linesman Don Henderson underwent neck surgery resulting from a hit from behind by Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman in January

(Photos: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images, Post-Gazette archives and Penguins Hockey Cards)

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Empty Netter Assists - Cullen celebrates the Cup - 07-31-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Center Matt Cullen spent his day with the Stanley Cup in Moorhead, Minn.

-Former Wheeling Nailers forward Zack Torquato has joined SG Cortina of Italy's Serie A league.

-Happy 30th birthday to the best No. 2 center in hockey:

-Happy 75th birthday to former Penguins right winger Paul Andrea. Acquired in the 1967 offseason along with defensemen George KonikDunc McCallum and forward Frank Francis in a trade which sent left winger Larry Jeffrey to the Rangers, Andrea spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. During the franchise's inaugural season of 1967-68, Andrea appeared in 65 games and produced 32 points. In 1968-68 he only saw action in 25 games and scored 13 points. The following offseason, Andrea and defenseman John Arbour were traded to Vancouver of the Western Hockey League in exchange for center Bryan Hextall, Jr. In 90 games with the Penguins, Andrea scored 45 points.

-Happy 54th birthday to former Penguins center Troy Murray. Acquired at the 1995 trade deadline along with defenseman Norm Maciver in a deal which sent center Martin Straka to the Senators, Murray appeared in 13 regular season games and scored two points for the Penguins in 1994-95. In the playoffs, he saw action in 12 games and netted three points. In the 1995 offseason, he joined the Avalanche as a free agent. He currently works as a broadcaster for the Blackhawks.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are trying to sign unrestricted free agent forward Sam Gagner, formerly of the Flyers.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes signed defenseman defenseman Jakob Chychrun (right), a first-round pick in this year's draft, to a three-year entry-level contract. He is the son of former Penguins defenseman Jeff Chychrun.

-Canucks unrestricted free agent defenseman Matt Bartkowski, a native of Mt. Lebanon, is still looking for a new contract.

Smythe Division

-Former Thrashers/Ducks/Blues defenseman Nathan Oystrick announced his retirement.

(Photos: Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Upcoming Cup days - 07-30-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Video coach Andy Saucier will spend his day with the Stanley Cup at Colby College in Waterville, Maine Tuesday.

-Defenseman Brian Dumoulin (right) will spend his day with the Stanley Cup in Biddeford, Maine Aug. 9.

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli will serve as head coach of the United States' under-18 team in the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament

-Penguins defensive prospect Joseph Masonius will take part in the upcoming USA National Junior Evaluation which will help determine the roster for next season's team for the IIHF World Junior Championship tournament.

-Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hurricanes forward Ryan Bayda has retired

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins left winger Markus Naslund. A first-round pick in 1991, Naslund spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a raw 20-year-old rookie in 1993-94, Naslund appeared in 71 games and scored 11 points. In 1994-95, Naslund was limited to 14 games and four points. In 1995-96, Naslund finally seemed to find his game by producing 52 points in 66 games, but at the trade deadline, he was dealt to the Canucks in exchange for right winger Alex #$@%! Stojanov. The trade is considered one of the worst in franchise history as Naslund developed into an all-star in Vancouver while Stojanov washed out after two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 151 games with the Penguins, Naslund scored 67 points.

-Happy 60th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Greg Redquest. A fourth-round pick in the 1976 draft, Redquest's entire NHL career amounted to one game with the 1977-78 Penguins. He was released in the 1979 offseason.

-Happy 46th birthday to former Penguins left winger Jeff Christian. A free agent signing in the 1994 offseason, Christian parts of three seasons with the Penguins. During that span, he only saw action in 15 games and scored four points. In the 1997 offseason, he signed with the Coyotes. He is currently head coach of the Wheeling Nailers.

-Happy 31st birthday to former Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski (right). A second-round pick in 2004, Goligoski spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He had a brief three-game cup of coffee in 2007-08 which produced two assists. In 2008-09, with defenseman Sergei Gonchar sidelined due to a preseason shoulder injury, Goligoski was inserted into the lineup and responded well by producing 20 points in 45 games. After appearing in two postseason games during the team's Stanley Cup run that spring, Goligoski's name earned a spot on the Cup. During 2009-10, Goligoski appeared in 67 games and registered 37 points. He appeared in all 13 of the team's playoff games and contributed nine points. After 60 games and 31 points in 2010-11, Goligoski was dealt at the trade deadline in exchange for left winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen. In 177 regular season games with the Penguins, Goligoski scored 90 points, 97th-most in franchise history. In 15 postseason games, Goligoski scored 10 points. He is currently a member of the Coyotes.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Former Robert Morris defenseman Evan Moore has signed with the South Carolina Stingrays, ECHL affiliate of the Capitals.

Atlantic Division

-The Maple Leafs re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Martin Marincin to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.5 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $700,000, Marincin's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.25 million. Marincin, 24, appeared in 65 games last season and scored seven points (one goal, six assists). 

-EN Says: A lanky player at (6-foot-4, 204 pounds), Marincin can play a shutdown role but also can move the puck a bit. For a player who figures to be a bottom-pairing defneseman, this is a fair deal.

Pacific Division

-The Ducks are still trying to re-sign restricted free agent forward Rickard Rakell (right). 

-The Oilers re-signed restricted free agent defenseman David Musil to a one-year two-way contract.

-At 26, new Coyotes general manager John Chayka is already making an impact.

Smythe Division

-Former Predators/ Panthers/Jets/Canucks/Maple Leafs/Ducks forward Mike Santorelli has joined Genève-Servette HC in Switzerland's NLA.

-Former Blues/Oilers/Sabres forward Jochen Hecht has retired.

-Former Kings goaltender Erik Ersberg has retired.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Schultz parties with the Cup - 07-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-It was defenseman Justin Schultz's turn to party with the Stanley Cup in his native West Kelowna, B.C.

-Center Nick Bonino will spend his day with the Stanley Cup Aug. 11 in Avon, Conn

-Today would've been the 81st birthday of former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets center Billy Harris. An all-star with the Maple Leafs, Harris was acquired by the Penguins in a trade which sent center Bob Dillabough to the Oakland Seals early in the 1968-69 season. "Hinky" ended his 13-year NHL career by appearing in 54 games for the Penguins and scoring 20 points. Harris retired in the 1969 offseason. He died Sept. 20, 2001.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Rangers re-signed restricted free agent forward Marek Hrivik to a one-year, two-way contract.

-The Devils signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Brandon Gormley, formerly of the Avalanche, to a one-year, two-way contract.

Central Division

-The Wild re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba (right) to a two-year contract worth a total of $5.1 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $894,166, Dumba's new deal will have a cap hit of $2.55 million. Dumba, 22, appeared in 81 games last season and scored 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists).

-EN Says: This is a bridge contract for a player who is only scratching the surface of his considerable talent. An all-around talent, there are few limits to his game. Still learning the game, he should flourish under new coach Bruce Boudreau who has a history of allowing skating defensemen such as Dumba to freely roam the ice.

-The Avalanche is scheduled to have an abritration hearing with restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie today.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Connor Murphy to a six-year contract worth a total of $23.1 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $863,333, Murphy's new deal will have a cap hit of $3.85 million. Murphy, 23, appeared in 78 games last season and scored 17 points (six goals, 11 assists). 

-EN Says: A first-round pick in 2010, Murphy figures to be a big part of the Coyotes' future with this deal. A tall (6-foot-4, 210) player with a good set of skates, Murphy has a skillset the NHL currently demands from defensemen. He just needs to find consistency. 

-The Coyotes re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Michael Stone to a one-year contract worth $4 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.15 million, Stone, 26, appeared in 75 games last season and scored 36 points (six goals, 30 assists).

-EN Says: Despite missing the last weeks of the regular season due to a serious knee injury, Stone had a career season with 36 points. Blessed with decent size (6-foot-3 and 210 pounds), Stone has a way of getting a stick or skate on just about any puck an opposing forward tries to play. If he can rebound from his injury, he can earn a longer-term deal. 

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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