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PG podcast: Reviews of Southpaw, Pixels, Paper Towns

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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Fitzgerald leaves Penguins, joins Devils - 07-24-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins lost assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald (above, center) to the Devils. He will be taking on an identical position with New Jersey.

Fitzgerald had been with the team in various capacities since 2007.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford spoke a short time ago about Fitzgerald's departure.

NOTE: We just spoke with Fitzgerald and will have an interview with him posted on EN shortly.

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How does this impact the front office?

"We've been looking at it for about a week knowing this possibility. We haven't made any final decisions right now. We'll probably try to restructure from within but I haven't made a final decision yet."

There's not much going on this time of the offseason, but does anyone have to inherit his duties on a temporary basis?

"No. Not now. The development camp is over. Tom ran the development camp. He did a really good job with it. We have a little lull in what his duties are.

Is this position subject to compensatory draft picks?

"No. No it's not."

You worked with Fitzgerald for just over a year.

"He was very good at his duties. He's a guy we will miss in our hockey department. He's a really good hockey man. He's well organized. He has good input in all aspect of his duties. He did a terrific job."

He has a history with Ray Shero going back many years. Was it difficult trying to convince him to stay while he weighed his history with Shero?

"I gave him permission for the reasons you just said. They worked together a long time. They're very close friends. Their kids are friends. I gave him permission to take a look at it with the understanding that we would like him to stay. I had a few conversations with him pointing out the advantages of staying with us but I also recognize how strong that relationship is."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Lamoriello joins Maple Leafs - 07-24-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Former Penguins forward Connor James (right) has joined the Straubing Tigers of Germany's DEL.

-Happy 54th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Pat Mayer. A free agent signing in the 1987 offseason, Mayer's entire NHL career amounted to one game and four penalty minutes with the Penguins in 1987-88. At the 1989 trade deadline, Mayer was dealt to the Kings in exchange for Tim Tookey.

Metropolitan Division

-The Capitals signed former Canucks defenseman Ryan Stanton to a one-year, two-way contract.

Atlantic Division

-Long-time Devils executive Lou Lamoriello resigned as the team's president and became the Maple Leafs' general manager. Lamoriello, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, had been the Devils' general manager for 27 years before stepping aside and hiring Ray Shero as his replacement in May. The Maple Leafs must send a third-round pick within the next three years to the Devils as compensation.

-“I can assure you it was not an easy decision for a lot of different reasons when you're with an organization as long as I was. Very similar to when I left Providence College, it wasn't easy. But, I've always said anything easy isn't worth it. Anybody can do it. This is a challenge and I'm extremely excited about it.” - Lamoriello.

-“When you’re used to having absolute control of an organization and then with Lou as president and Ray as [general manager], I think it was a different situation for him.” - Devils owner David Harris on Lamoriello (right). 

-EN Says: This is a shocker. There were questions as to how involved Lamoriello would be with the day-to-day hockey operations in New Jersey. He is a control freak who had influenced virtually every detail of the Devils for nearly three decades. His position of president really left him with little power in that department. His long-time scouting director David Conte was fired earlier this month. Lamoriello clearly wasn't content to have a do-nothing job. In stepped Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, a former player for Lamoriello. It will be interesting to see how Lamoriello fits in with the multiple layers of Toronto's management staff. Shanahan, assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and player personnel director Mark Hunter have been very involved in the Maple Leafs' day-to-day management and aren't likely to take a back seat. Throw in new head coach Mike Babcock and the fact that all of this is taking part in the hornets nest of a hockey market that is Toronto ... it's going to be interesting.

-Lamoriello took out a full-page ad in The (Bergen, N.J.) Record to thank the Devils and New Jersey fans.

-The Canadiens signed former Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $7 million, Semin appeared in 57 games last season and scored 19 points (six goals, 13 assists). The Hurricanes bought out the final four years of his contract earlier this offseason.

-EN Says: Alexander Semin (right) on a one-year deal makes sense. Alexander Semin on a multi-year contract is suicide. The Canadiens are taking a low-risk, high-reward chance on a player with a ton of skill and two tons of question marks. The skill and the ability are all there. He's been a 40-goal scorer in the NHL. But his motivation has not always been there on a day-to-day basis. He was a healthy scratch frequently last season in Carolina and drew public criticism from various head coaches and general managers. On a one-year contract, Semin will presumably be motivated to earn a new contract. Another thing to consider is who he'll play with at center. Semin's best seasons typically came with a franchise center like Nicklas Backstrom or Eric Staal. The Canadiens tried to turn Alex Galcheyuk into a center and the results were mixed. Center is not a strength of position for this team.

-The Sabres re-signed restricted free agent forward Jerry D'Amigo to a one-year, two-way contract.

-Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke has left the franchise to take an identical position with the NFL.

Pacific Division

-The Flames re-signed restricted free agent forward Lance Bouma to a three-year contract worth a total of $6.6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $775,000, Bouma's new deal will have a cap hit of $2.2 million. Bouma, 25, appeared in 78 games last season and scored 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists).

-EN Says: Bouma (right) was a perfect representation of the Flames last season. He, like a lot of his teammates, came out of no where and put together a good season. He has some decent size at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds and plays a pretty hard game. It'll be interesting o see if he can replicate his offensive numbers now that he has a long-term contract inked.

-The Coyotes reached an agreement with the City of Glendale, Ariz. on a new lease for Gila River Arena.

-The Coyotes signed forward Michael Bunting, a fourth-round pick in 2014, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Norris Division

-Former Red Wings/Flyers/Sabres forward Ville Leino has joined Dinamo Riga in Russia's KHL.

-Former Avalanche forward Riku Hahl has joined HPK in Finland's Liiga.

-Former Canucks/Ducks defenseman Nathan McIver has joined the Braehead Clan of the United Kingdom's EIHL.

-Former Hurricanes/Panthers forward Jon Matsumoto has joined Augsburger Panther of Germany's DEL.

-Former Wild/Canadiens/Oilers/Avalanche defenseman Shawn Belle has retired and become an assistant coach with the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior HOckey League.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images, Andy Marlin/Getty Images and Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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#SettingTheSEEN: Awesome Aspinwall

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

I love a good shopping trip! (I mean, who doesn't?) And I absolutely love combining shopping with delicious organic, vegan food! This week, Sara and I shopped 'til we dropped in Aspinwall, taking in Kristi Boutique, Beautiful Boutique and One Brilliant. After a fabulous day of trying on clothes and accessories, we had worked up an appetite. We headed over to Randita's Organic Vegan Cafe where we indulged in taco salads, peanut stews and chocolate silk pie (which was life affirming!). Check out this week's show and until next time...we'll be seeing you!

Follow @NBSeen on Twitter and @NatalieBenci on Instagram to keep up with #wheresNataliePG

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'10 for 10' No. 4: A Fiesta Bowl win gives rise to the Bill Stewart era

Written by Craig Meyer on .

In this college football desert of July, and with this upcoming season marking the 10th anniversary of West Virginia’s 2005 team that won the Sugar Bowl, I’ve decided to count down the 10 most important Mountaineers games of the past decade.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll work from 10 to one, with one entry appearing every few days. Lists like this are arbitrary by nature, but the hope here is to find the games that had the biggest impact on the West Virginia program both at that time and well into the future. So, before we get going, a disclaimer: these aren’t necessarily the best, most compelling games, but rather the ones that had the most profound role in steering the Mountaineers to where they are today.

On to No. 4:

West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28; Jan. 2, 2008

http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/campus-rivalry/2012/05/21/stewartx-large.jpg

(Photo: Arizona Republic)

There are a few different directions a team can go when it heads into a bowl game without a head coach.

Down the man who guided them throughout the season, some teams crumble, unable to focus entirely on what’s taking place on the field when such uncertainty lingers away from it. Their inner turmoil materializes in the game and, before they can even realize it, their once-promising season ends disastrously. The 2009 Cincinnati team that got pounded, 51-24, by Florida in the Sugar Bowl a few weeks after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame always comes to mind, at least for me.

On the opposite end of the ol’ spectrum, there’s the best-case scenario for teams in such a situation, when any doubt and instability galvanizes them and they accomplish what many believed they couldn’t.

Though other teams have embodied that spirit in the game’s history, few examples stand out more than West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

The Mountaineers entered their game against Oklahoma as an eight-point underdog, given the unappealing task of neutralizing a dynamic offense spearheaded by a future Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick (Sam Bradford).

And those were just the problems they had to face externally. West Virginia not only had to emotionally and psychologically regroup from a Dec. 1 loss to Pitt that cost it a spot in the national championship, but it had to play the Fiesta Bowl without coach Rich Rodriguez, who had accepted the Michigan job not even three weeks earlier.

Under interim coach Bill Stewart, it faced a tall, daunting task. It responded about as well as it could have.

Pat White threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 150 yards, freshman Noel Devine ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns in place of an injured Steve Slaton, and the Mountaineers rolled to a surprisingly easy 20-point victory against the No. 3 Sooners.

Of course, the win was important because it came in a BCS bowl game – the program’s second such win in a three-year span – but more pressingly, the victory effectively negated a wide-ranging search for Rodriguez’s replacement. Hoisted by West Virginia’s impressive performance, an opening that had been associated with names like Butch Jones, Terry Bowden and Jimbo Fisher was ultimately filled by Stewart.

Amidst the euphoria of the Oklahoma game, players and others around the program, like legendary coach Don Nehlen, hailed the decision to hire the man who helped bond a group that could have very easily ripped apart at the seams.

Others, though, weren’t so optimistic. Prominent West Virginia booster Ken Kendrick said “He is so overmatched it’s not even funny,” adding that “They had a wonderful architect and they hired the painter to build the next house,” referencing Rodriguez and Stewart, respectively. College football writer Stewart Mandel, then of Sports Illustrated, wrote that “the chances of him [Stewart] maintaining the program’s recent level of success are about as high as leaving a party at Lindsay Lohan’s place with your fur coat intact.”

For all of the good feelings that came from the win, the hiring of a tight ends coach whose only previous experience as a college head coach came with an 8-25 record in three seasons at VMI was understandably contentious.

Stewart’s on-field results in Morgantown were a mixed bag, though they far exceeded the doomsday scenario that some forecasted when he took over. What was more undeniable was that his four-year tenure was made possible – and was, in many ways, created -- by a win that had implications that resonated far beyond that night.

 

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

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