-Happy 57th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Bob Gladney (right). A free agent signing in the 1983 offseason, Gladney spent part of one season with the Penguins. He appeared in 13 games in 1983-84 and recorded six points. An eye injury forced him to retire in the 1984 offseason. Gladney is one of two natives of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to play for the Penguins (John Slaney is the other).
-Happy 68th birthday to former Penguins forward Robin Burns. Acquired prior to the 1970-71 season in a deal which sent cash to the Montreal Canadiens, Burns spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1970-71, he appeared in 10 games and recorded three assists. In 1971-72, Burns saw action in five games and failed to record a point. Burns appeared in a career-high 26 games in 1972-73 and netted two assists. After spending the entire 1973-74 season with the Hershey Bears, the Penguins' AHL affiliate, Burns was claimed by the Kansas City Scouts in the 1974 expansion draft. In 41 games with the Penguins, Burns recorded five assists.
-Today's Obligatory YouTube Post: Hockey Night in Canada's pregame montage prior to Game 4 of a 2013 Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Penguins and Senators:
(Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins)
Pittsburgh witnessed the militarization of local police back in 2009 when protesters were met with armored vehicles and tear gas during the G-20 conference.
There's bulletin-board material, and then there's this.
West Virginia starting quarterback Clint Trickett, in true Romeo-and-Juliet fashion, admitted Tuesday, four days before his Mountaineers face No. 2 Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, that he's got a rather special bond with the enemy.
When asked whether he knew Alabama coach Nick Saban well, he grinned and said, "His daughter was my first kiss, back in the day." He paused, looked around sheepishly and added, "So yeah ... I don't know if I should have said that." It wasn't necessarily star-crossed lovers, though. The huddle of reporters around him laughed and as one began to ask his next question, Trickett cut him off and added, "For clarification, we were like six years old! Just so everybody knows that."
Trickett's father, you see, coached alongside Saban when Saban took over at LSU in 2000. And his brother Travis Trickett, now at Samford, was a graduate assistant under Saban at Alabama in 2007.
"Coach Nick is one of the greatest there is," Trickett said.
Asked if he knows Saban well. "His daughter [Kristen] was my first kiss, back in the day. [laughs] So yeah... I don't know if I should have said that. [laughs again] She's actually engaged now. Coach Nick is one of the greatest there is. My brother worked for him. He was a GA for him when be first got to Alabama. And we've known him for years, family friends and just one of the best coaches out there." Cuts off next question. "For clarification, we were like six years old! Just so everyone knows that."
We're only four days away from Pitt's season opener against Delaware now, so coaches are players are deep into game prep. In case you missed it in today's PG, here's my season preview for Pitt, which includes three keys to the 2014 season, as well as some notes on the schedule. Additionally, here's a notebook off coach Paul Chryst's press conference yesterday, in which he outlines which freshmen he expects to see the field.
We talked with Pitt defensive coordinator Matt House after practice today, and here are some notes on his preparations for Delaware and his thoughts in general on heading into his second year as a coordinator.
- House said the biggest thing he learned in his first year as defensive coordinator was "stay the course. Don't knee-jerk react, don't panic." He admitted that there were times last year when he did have a knee-jerk reaction to something that happened on the field. I think that's an interesting note, especially looking back at some of the games when Pitt's defense struggled last year (particularly early on when House was newest to the role). The one that sticks out to me is the Duke game and I wonder if there were times in-game when the Panthers might have strayed from the gameplan a little bit, and that allowed the Blue Devils to come storming back and almost take the game.
- In terms of the secondary, House said he's on board with the new aggressive, ball-attacking style preached by defensive backs coach Troy Douglas. Douglas has been pretty adamant about defensive backs playing the ball more this season, and House said that's something that has been a constant theme throughout the coaching staff.
"It's a big thing that coach Chryst has stressed in camp, really, on both sides; ball security and turnovers," House said. "I'll be interested so see how it transpires come Saturday and the Saturday after that and going on the next 12 weeks."
In terms of specific players in the secondary, House talked about redshirt junior Lafayette Pitts, who has admitted that he did not have his best year last season. Pitts had an interception and nine pass breakups in his first year playing in 2012, but had no picks and just four pass breakups last year.
"I think Laf's gotten better over training camp, he certainly had a good approach to things," House said. "I know he's anxious to start this week. I know you guys have to do it for the purpose of writing and whatnot, but as far as when you're coaching the kid, you hate to ever go backwards. Last year was last year. Especially coming out of training camp, this year's this year. It is interesting, even though we're the Pitt Panthers, every year is a different team, a different defense because it is a different group of guys."
Another cornerback House touched on was freshman Avonte Maddox. Maddox was one of five freshman that Chryst listed to see the field this year, and was easily one of the most impressive performers of the young guys in training camp. House said he didn't come in with any pre-set expectations for Maddox, but the Detroit native didn't take long to make an impression.
"The thing about him is he competed," House said. "If you watch him, his size (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) isn't an indicator of the competitiveness inside of him."
- Lastly, House noted that even though Pitt is regarded as "young" on defense, they do have a lot of guys who have played in the past. Guys like Shakir Soto, Terrish Webb and Matt Galambos may only be sophomores, but all three played key roles on the defense last year, so moving up to being full-time starters shouldn't be that big of a leap.
"Even though we're young, there's a lot of guys that have seen the field before, which is neat," House said. "Yeah, we're young in years, but there are some guys that have played. It's reassuring. I will say this, it's funny. I know I am this way, once you dive in with each team, by this point, you're not worried about the experience, you're coaching the player because you've got to get ready for a game. You're not going to change whether that kid's a redshirt freshman a sophomore or a senior, you're really coaching the individual."