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Perron: 'I couldn't be more pumped' - 01-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Note: We will not have a game preview or live post for tonight's game. We will have a postgame blog however.

New Penguins forward David Perron is familiar with the Penguins.

Growing up, he was a huge fan of former right winger Alexei Kovalev, arguably one of the most skilled players in franchise history.

The Penguins are hoping Perron, no slouch with handling the puck himself, can have a similiar impact on the Penguins. He was acquired from the Oilers today in exchange for right winger Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in 2015.

Earlier today, he talked about coming to Pittsburgh.

What was your reaction to the trade?

"I think, first off, when you're in any kind of situation like we were in Edmonton, as tough as it was, you're still emotionally involved. It's always tough to leave any kind of situation. You're playing in the NHL and it's the best league in the world. I've met a lot of great people there and friends I'll keep forever. I know it sounds cliched but it's true. I've got to meet a lot of staff and coaches and trainers and coaches. I still had a lot of fun there. You do turn the page and you look at the opportunity that is presented to myself, I couldn't be more pumped. I'm really excited to get going here. I'll be looking to do anything to keep the team winning."

What is it like going from a last place team to a first place team?

"It's amazing. If you picture something in your head to try to get an opportunity to win the [Stanley] Cup, I can't see too many chances better than that. Actually, I don't think there's any. So it's something that I'm extremely lucky and happy to be a part of. I know a couple of guys over there. I know [assistant coach] Gary Agnew. I'm just going to try and come in and fit in and do anything I can to keep it going for this team. They're obviously doing the right things to win. They've been doing that for a little while now. Again, I'm just going to try to keep the ball rolling."

What is the plan for you in terms of traveling to Pittsburgh and getting into the lineup?

"We'll see what the visa situation is. Hopefully, it's not too long. I'm still hoping that I play tomorrow. It's not going to happen tonight. I'm flying 5:30 [p.m.] Denver time. I don't know what's next. I'm just trying to catch up to everything and getting myself organized."

Did you chat with any of the management or coaches here about how they might use you on the ice?

"No. It's probably too early. We'll wait to meet in person and see if I can even play tomorrow. I talked to [general manager Jim Rutherford] and he did mention [center Sidney Crosby] and [center Evgeni] Malkin. I'm just happy to be in that kind of situation. As you mentioned earlier, going from last place to a playoff team is an incredible opportunity. It won't matter who I'm playing with. I'm going to come in, work hard and do my part."

You were playing primarily on a third line in Edmonton this season.

"Yeah, I was playing first on the third line and I guess a little bit and everything."

If you do end up with Crosby or Malkin, that would seem to be an upgrade.

"Yeah, it's going to be incredible. Definitely. I think the challenge, as I'm thinking about it and we'll see when it does happen, I'm just going to try and hopefully bring my game and not worry too much about trying to look for them every single time when I have the puck which is probably natural a little bit when you're playing with those kind of guys, top players."

What do you know about the Penguins? Everyone know about the star players here but what what do you know about the details of how they play? Or their history?

"They do like to play with a lot of speed, obviously making plays. And they do play the right way. They've been playing a winning kind of hockey for a while. As far as the history, the Penguins are probably the team I followed the most growing up. [Former right winger Alexei] Kovalev was my favorite player growing up. Obviously, I don't even need to mention the other guys. [Mario] Lemieux, [Jaromir] Jagr, [Martin] Straka, [Robert] Lang, [Jan] Hrdina. All those guys in the early 2000s. I did follow Pittsburgh a lot. It was a team I enjoyed watching."

You've only missed four games over the past three seasons. Before that, you missed 96 games over two seasons due to a concussion.

"It feels great. Prior to the concussion, I think I never missed a game for any kind of injury. I think my first year, I was a healthy scratch maybe one time. Second year, maybe one time. Since then, I had that one big injury and other than that, I've been extremely healthy. It's definitely something, I hope it stays that way for sure."

How do you describe yourself as a player?

"I'll bring some skills. I'll bring some work ethic. I'll work hard along the boards trying to win every single battle. Protecting the puck. Making the right play at the right time, whether it's making a nice pass or a chip into the zone. I'm just going to come in and fit in and do whatever to keep this thing going that they got. The best thing for me is ... I've played in the league eight years but I know I will learn a lot from those guys. They have a lot of guys with over 400 games in the NHL. I think when I looked up earlier, it was 10 or 12 or something like that. It was extremely high. It's something I'll look forward to share some knowledge with those guys and get better as a player and as a team."

(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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Indiana-Hampton showdown ..... other news, notes and anecdotes

Written by Mike White on .

Some things that fell off my laptop

**** Right before the season started, I was going to predict that the Southmoreland boys basketball team would win its first 10 games and be 10-1 heading into January. But I forgot.

Southmoreland won two games last year and was winless a year ago.

**** The WPIAL basketball season is about a month old and one of the best boys games of the season so far will be a non-section contest tomorrow afternoon.

Hampton will play host to Indiana in a 12:30 game that is a 1-2 showdown and matches undefeated teams. Hampton is the Post-Gazette's No. 1 Class AAA team and 10-0. Indiana is ranked No. 2 and 9-0.

Indiana has never done much since joining the WPIAL in the 1980s, but the Little Indians' success so far shouldn't be all that surprising. A number of coaches were commenting how good Indiana looked in spring and summer leagues. Read about Indiana's team in this morning's Varsity Xtra high school notebook.

What's interesting about this Hampton team is the number of players who did not play at all the past few seasons but are stepping up big time this year. Guys like Pat Murray and Jack Morrison. Plus, sophomore Antonio Ionadi has come through in a big way and senior guard Joe Lafko Jr. has taken his game to another level now that the Luther twins are gone.

Hampton is playing a different style this season, now that the Talbots don't have the Luthers or much size any longer. They play fast, spread the court, shoot a lot of 3's and play "dribble drive" offense. It has been very successful so far.

**** Who are the best boys basketball teams in the state, regardless of classification? Jerry Shenk of Middle Atlantic Sports and LLHoops.com has been doing rankings for 38 years, and his first rankings of the 2014-15 season are out. North Allegheny is the highest-rated team from the WPIAL at No. 6. 

**** Pine-Richland looks like it has a good shot at making the playoffs this season for only the second time in eight seasons. It says here that the Rams have a big five- or six-year run coming. First, Pine-Richland has only one senior who plays much - and it also has a talented freshman (Phil Jurkovec) and sophomore (Andrew Petcash). And the Rams have some excellent groups at the younger grades, especially eighth grade.

**** Doesn't Upper St. Clair classify as one of the surprise teams in Class AAAA? With a slew of inexperienced, unproven players this season, coach Danny Holzer never expected to be 8-2 and ranked in the top five of Class AAAA.

**** There is no overwhelming team in Class AAAA this season, no one close to what New Castle was last year, or even Hampton. But there are a number of good teams and that should make for a wide open postseason tournament.

**** Allderdice of the City League is good enough to make an impact in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. The Dragons have talent and size. Yes, the Dragons were hammered by Hempfield, but Allderdice didn't have the Jackson twins in that game.

**** There is expected to be some hires in January on the WPIAL football coaching front. I'm hearing Slippery Rock High School's Brendan Hathaway is one of the top candidates at Seneca Valley. Hathaway has done a great job in turning around Slippery Rock's program in five seasons. Hathaway is a former Shaler player.

Speaking of Seneca Valley, former Seneca Valley coach Don Holl is one of the candidates at Moon. 

Also, it will be interesting to see what happens with coach Chris Haering, a Pitt assistant. Will Haering go to Wisconsin to be part of Paul Chryst's staff? Will new Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi keep him? If Haering isn't on the college level, don't be surprised if he gets back into high school coaching. He coached 17 seasons at Mt. Lebanon before going to Pitt in 2012.

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Penguins acquire Perron from Oilers - 01-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins acquired left winger David Perron from the Oilers in exchange for right winger Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in this year's draft.

Perron, 26, has appeared in 38 games this season and has scored 19 points (five goals, 14 assists). Last season, he played in 78 games and scored 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists).

A first round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2007, Perron has played in eight NHL season. He is in the third year of a  four-year contract with a salary cap hit of $3,812,500.

There was no word of his availability for tonight's home game against Tampa Bay Lightning which begins at 7:08 p.m. General manager Jim Rutherford is scheduled to speak with media at 6 p.m.

Update: According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA in Montreal, Perron will make his debut tomorrow against the Canadiens.

Klinkhammer, 28, was acquired in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 5. He played in 10 games for the Penguins and scored three points (one goal, two assists). Klinkhammer is in the final year of a contract with a salary cap hit of $625,000.

The Penguins acquired Klinkhammer and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2015 in exchange for defenseman Philip Samuelsson last month.

-EN Says: This was a need even before the injuries truly began to take their toll.

Even before Pascal Dupuis was sidelined in November due to a blood clot and well before Beau Bennett, Patric Hornqvist Chris Kunitz and others each missed time due to various ailments, the Penguins needed a top-six winger. It was this team's most glaring hole entering the season.

Perron fills that void.

Blessed with a fast set of hands, Perron is one of the best puck handlers in the game. Don't take our word for it. Check it out for yourself:

His offensive numbers have been down this season but Perron has been stuck on a rotten Oilers team which is has the fewest wins in the NHL this season with an 8-22-8 record. In five-on-five play this season, Perron's primary linemates have been Mark Arcobello (248:06) and Teddy Purcell (191:46).

Presuming he'll be teamed with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, the sky is the limit as far as what he could do with a dominant center. He is capable of setting up a linemate with a slick pass or ripping a perfectly placed wrister top shelf.

Perron has been durable over the past three seasons playing in 178 of a possible 182 regular season games with Edmonton and St. Louis but a concussion sidelined him for parts of the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons in St. Louis. He was limited to 10 games in 2010-11.

Perron also figures to provide a boost for the team's stagnant power play which has gone gone 1 for 24 (4.2 percent) over the past seven games.

Perron also offers something in the shootout having gone 10 for 35 (28.6 percent) in his career.

At 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Perron offers a fair amount of size and doesn't mind going to high traffic areas. but don't confuse him with a blood-and-guts battler like Kunitz or Hornqvist. This is a skilled water bug of a winger who will makes plays off the rush.

For Klinkhammer, he was a stopgap for the Penguins while they dealt with the massive amount of injuries and other illnesses they had to contend with over the past few months. He was an NHL-caliber body and that was about it. After a few solid games at first, his production had waned and was a healthy scratch during Wednesday's 2-1 home win against the Hurricanes.

Moving him was likely a condition of the trade in order for the Penguins to get a contract and a little cap space off their roster.

The true price of this deal was the first-round pick. For a team which has dealt away a lot of first-, second-, and third-round picks over the past decade dating back to former general manager Ray Shero's regime, a move like this doesn't help a development system which is short on forwards with true NHL potential. But with Crosby and Malkin moving into their late 20s, the future is now more than ever for the Penguins.

Even with this trade, the team still needs to improve it's top six forwards. With Pascal Dupuis out until at least the start of the postseason, there still is a void. But the addition of Perron goes a long way towards filling it.

(Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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GAME DAY: Pitt vs. Houston

Written by Sam Werner on .

PittHouston14

FORT WORTH, Texas — Welcome to Pitt's last game day of the 2014 season (even though it's currently 2015). The Panthers will kick off against Houston in just about half an hour in the Armed Forces Bowl. Here are a couple of pre-game notes for you.

- No major injuries to report for Pitt today. Guys who were injured towards the end of the season, like Darryl Render, Manasseh Garner and Scott Orndoff are good to go today. Defensive back Ryan Lewis was injured earlier in the week, but practiced the last two days, so I'd expect him to play. Joe Rudolph said earlier this week that there was an outside chance safety Terrish Webb could return for this game, but it looks like that's not going to happen.

- From today's Post-Gazette, my game preview on how, despite the coaching drama, Pitt's players still have plenty of motivation to win this game today.

- Also, I spent the day yesterday at the Cotton Bowl, watching future Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, in his final game at Michigan State, and his Spartan defense key an epic second-half comeback in a 42-41 against Baylor. Here's my story on what it meant to Narduzzi, his Spartan players and his family to have him end his Michigan State career that way.

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Empty Netter Assists - 01-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-“It’s not good. It hasn’t been good for a while.” - Rick Tocchet on the Penguins' power play.

-With the Lightning and the Canadiens, the Penguins have two tough back to back home games.

-Christmas was hectic for Jeff Zatkoff.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Happy 32nd birthday to current Penguins forward Andrew Ebbett. A free agent signing in 2013, Ebbett spent the past two seasons in Pittsburgh. Last season, he appeared in nine games and one assist. This season, Ebbett has played in 14 games and has three assists. In 23 games with the Penguins he has recorded four assists.

-Happy 59th birthday to former Penguins forward Peter Lee (right). Acquired early in the 1977-78 season along with Pete Mahovlich in a trade which sent Pierre Larouche and the rights to Peter Marsh to the Canadiens, Lee spent six seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1977-78, Lee appeared in 60 games and scored 18 points. In 1978-79, Lee, the only United Kingdom-born player in franchise history, set career highs in games (80) and goals (32) while contributing 58 points. That spring's postseason saw him appear in seven games while recording three points. He followed that up in 1979-80 by appearing in 74 games and scoring 45 points. Lee played in four postseason games that season and recorded one point. Lee  rebounded in 1980-81 by playing in 80 games and scoring a career-high 80 points. In five postseason games that spring, he netted four assists. In 1981-82, Lee played in 74 games and scored 34 points. The 1982 potseason saw Lee score in three games and fail to record a point. Lee's final NHL season was 1982-83. He appeared in 63 games and scored 26 points. In the 1983 offseason, Lee joined Dusseldorfer EG in West Germany. In 431 career regular season games with the Penguins, Lee scored 245 points, 33rd-most in franchise history. In 19 postseason games, he recorded eight assists.

-Happy 46th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Rick Tabaracci. A second round pick in 1987, Tabaracci's Penguins career amounted to one game, no record a 7.27 goals against average and .810 save percentage in 1988-89. During the 1989 offseason, Tabaracci was traded to the Jets along with Randy Cunneyworth and Dave McLlwain in exchange for Jim Kyte, Andrew McBain and Randy Gilhen.

-After the Jump: The Winter Classic.

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