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Duquesne's turnpike ordeal, as told by those they met

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Grahn and Landis

(Photo: Duquesne Athletics)

When Scott Grahn and Joel Landis saw three heavily-bundled figures approach them through the falling snow, the two emergency workers didn’t quite know what to expect.

Rather quickly, it became apparent these men were in need. I’m responsible for a group of students stranded on the bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, one of them explained, and we haven’t eaten for 19 hours. What wasn’t made clear in that panicked explanation was they were assistant coaches for the Duquesne men’s basketball team, a group enveloped in a saga that was receiving national attention.

In that moment, however, none of that mattered. Grahn and Landis had to do something.

“These guys, they were desperate,” Grahn said. “I’m not going to lie to you.”

For as isolating as Duquesne’s 22-hour wait on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last weekend may have felt, the Dukes were never alone. They were joined by peripheral figures like Grahn and Landis, people who provided varying degrees of help in their quest to get back home.

When the assistant coaches first met the two Somerset County emergency workers, the team was at perhaps its lowest point. Hungry and stranded, they tried getting a pizza delivered at a nearby overpass. When that plan crumbled, they found their way to Grahn and Landis.

With nearly every restaurant in the area closed because of the weather, the five of them hopped in a Chevrolet truck and called a local Giant Eagle. The grocery was understaffed and closing in an hour, and the employee on the phone was doubtful they could scrap together a meal for an entire basketball team. But Grahn spoke with a manager, insisting the matter was urgent. The order got through.

By the time they dropped off rotisserie chickens and snacks at the team’s bus, they were greeted as conquering heroes. When they saw hundreds of other buses and stranded vehicles on the turnpike, however, they knew their work was far from done with that delivery.

“That fed into our whole response later on,” Landis said.

Grahn and Landis, who hold full-time jobs and work emergency management as volunteers, spent the rest of their day aiding others however they could. They shoveled snow away from tailpipes to make sure they wouldn’t clog and send carbon monoxide back into the cars. If a motorist was experiencing medical problems, they’d help get them to an ambulance. They delivered 25 pizzas to cars and buses provided free of charge by a restaurant owner whose son saw a story about Duquesne on Sportscenter. And on a day when information was in short supply for those stranded, Grahn would feed Duquesne coaches like Rich Glesmann any updates he received.

“If that’s my daughter out there, I want to know when she’s coming home, too,” Grahn said.

By the time Grahn and Landis finished with everything at 4:30 Sunday morning, they had worked 17 hours. And they came away from that day with an unexpected link to and a newfound respect for a certain college basketball team.

“Those kids that were in that bus, they were more than willing to help one another, as well as the other buses that were around them,” Grahn said. “That’s what makes a team.”


THE BUS DRIVER

Bus Sarge

(Photo: Duquesne Athletics)

Only Eugene Sargent’s mother calls him by his given name. To everyone else, he’s simply Sarge.

For the past 35 years, Sarge has been driving buses and for the last seven years, he has been the primary driver of Duquesne’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as its football team. He’s a veteran of the road, someone who knows its rhythms and many of the problems it presents.

But when he saw a swarm of red brake lights 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh on the Dukes’ trip back from George Mason, something immediately crossed his mind. “Oh boy,” he thought.

Sarge had waited in accidents before, sometimes for as many as six or seven hours, but never anything like this. As the hours stretched on, he kept the bus running, providing heat and electricity for those on board. Gas, thankfully, was never a concern, as he said the vehicle had enough fuel to run for three days.

When not trying to sleep and monitor the bus’ gauges, he would chat with players who have become pseudo-family members over the years. For the Beaver Falls native who worked full-time installing fiber-optic cable systems until he retired three years ago, the ordeal was another reminder of why he loves what he does.

“From talking to these guys here, you get to know where they’re from and where they grow up,” he said. “A lot of them have never been anywhere because of their culture and where they grew up. Being around the different people, it thrills me.”


THE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS

Duquesne students

(Photo: Duquesne Athletics)

Cheryl Kluesner’s middle school students weren’t in a dire or compromising situation. But after their Dubuque, Iowa-bound bus had idled in the same spot for more than 12 hours, the kids had understandably grown a little restless.

So when they saw on ESPN that a bus carrying a college basketball team was right near them, Kluesner saw not only a distraction, but an opportunity to inject some fun into an increasingly worrisome predicament.

She walked over to the Dukes’ bus, explained their situation and asked if a few players might want to come over. They happily obliged. Once there, they started to chat. The students explained they were from a town about 30 miles from where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. They asked the players about their stats and tried to teach them some of their favorite dance moves.

“It sounded like they were all getting tired of being stuck, so I think this might have brightened their spirits, too,” said Riley Fangman, one of the students.

Even after the players left, they maintained a bond with the students. The Dukes shared some of the food they received from a grocery store with them and helped dig out their new friends’ bus with trashcan lids and cardboard pizza boxes. Once traffic started to move, their respective buses flashed their lights at each other as a final goodbye.

“The Duquesne Dukes have a new following from afar,” Kluesner said.


THE LONGTIME BROADCASTER

Goss and Sarge

(Photo: Duquesne Athletics)

Even at age 79, Ray Goss is in good shape. He has experienced the kind of physical wear and tear that comes with aging, from stem-cell treatments for his joints to a possible knee replacement in the future. But in his 48th year as the voice of Duquesne basketball, he approaches his job with the same vigor he had when he was a much younger man.

When ESPN and CNN flashed images of the Dukes holed away in their bus, the picture often presented was one of a group of energetic and plucky college students making the best of an otherwise dreadful situation. The way the players weathered the wait was endearing, but not entirely surprising given their age. But how was that older gentleman on the far left side of the photo handling those same conditions?

“I can adjust to things pretty well,” Goss said. “Mentally, it wasn’t a strain because, I don’t know, I guess I’m used to adversity. I didn’t feel any ‘Oh, man, I need to rest for three days.’ I’m ready to go tonight [Tuesday night’s game vs. La Salle]. These kids, they always talk about travel and getting their rest. If I can get to the game and sit down, I’m okay.”

While players killed time on their phones, tablets and other electronic devices, Goss did what he often does when he travels with the team for road games. He read books and magazines, worked on Cryptoquip puzzles and answered calls and texts from about 15 different people, including his four daughters.

The problem was that Goss began running out of things to occupy his time. As the wait persisted, he finished the 450-page book he was about halfway through when the trip began. While he got some rest, he has a hard time getting comfortable on buses, meaning that he was never able to sleep for more than an hour at a time.

With players extending their long legs across the aisle for some much-needed comfort, even getting to the bathroom at the back of the bus was an adventure at times.

“It was like a hurdle race,” Goss said with a laugh.

For someone who has been the Dukes’ play-by-play announcer for nearly five decades, the trip rekindled some old, albeit not always pleasant, memories. In Feb. 1983, an Amtrak train carrying Goss and the Duquesne team took 10 hours to get from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia because of a snowstorm. The trip ended up being worth it, as the Dukes upset Temple in overtime. 

Six years ago, the Dukes attempted to head home following a game at George Washington. After the bus driver convinced then-coach Ron Everhart that they’d try to make the trek back, they got caught in snow in the middle of Washington, D.C. They ended up getting some cars to take players and coaches to a nearby hotel, where they stayed that night before leaving the following morning.

Those moments live on as stories and after last weekend’s misadventure on the turnpike, he has another one for the collection.

“That had to be the worst one,” Goss said.

 

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

When Scott Grahn and Joel Landis saw three heavily-bundled figures approach them through the falling snow, the two emergency workers didn’t quite know what to expect.
Rather quickly, it became apparent these men were in need. I’m responsible for a group of students stranded on the bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, one of them explained, and we haven’t eaten for 19 hours. What wasn’t made clear in that panicked explanation was they were assistant coaches for the Duquesne men’s basketball team, a group enveloped in a saga that was receiving national attention.
In that moment, however, none of that mattered. Grahn and Landis had to do something.
“These guys, they were desperate,” Grahn said. “I’m not going to lie to you.”
For as isolating as Duquesne’s 22-hour wait on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last weekend may have felt, the Dukes were never alone. They were joined by peripheral figures like Grahn and Landis, people who provided varying degrees of help in their quest to get back home.
When the assistant coaches first met the two Somerset County emergency workers, the team was at perhaps its lowest point. Hungry and stranded, they tried getting a pizza delivered at a nearby overpass. When that plan crumbled, they found their way to Grahn and Landis.
With nearly every restaurant in the area closed because of the weather, the five of them hopped in a Chevrolet truck and called a local Giant Eagle. The grocery was understaffed and closing in an hour, and the employee on the phone was doubtful they could scrap together a meal for an entire basketball team. But Grahn spoke with a manager, insisting the matter was urgent. The order got through.
By the time they dropped off rotisserie chickens and snacks at the team’s bus, they were greeted as conquering heroes. When they saw hundreds of other buses and stranded vehicles on the turnpike, however, they knew their work was far from done with that delivery.
“That fed into our whole response later on,” Landis said.
Grahn and Landis, who hold full-time jobs and work emergency management as volunteers, spent the rest of their day aiding others however they could. They shoveled snow away from tailpipes to make sure they wouldn’t clog and send carbon monoxide back into the cars. If a motorist was experiencing medical problems, they’d help get them to an ambulance. They delivered 25 pizzas to cars and buses provided free of charge by a restaurant owner whose son saw a story about Duquesne on Sportscenter. And on a day when information was in short supply for those stranded, Grahn would feed Duquesne coaches like Rich Glesmann any updates he received.
“If that’s my daughter out there, I want to know when she’s coming home, too,” Grahn said.
By the time Grahn and Landis finished with everything at 4:30 Sunday morning, they had worked 17 hours. And they came away from that day with an unexpected link to and a newfound respect for a certain college basketball team.
“Those kids that were in that bus, they were more than willing to help one another, as well as the other buses that were around them,” Grahn said. “That’s what makes a team.”
*****
Only Eugene Sargent’s mother calls him by his given name. To everyone else, he’s simply Sarge.
For the past 35 years, Sarge has been driving buses and for the last seven years, he has been the primary driver of Duquesne’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as its football team. He’s a veteran of the road, someone who knows its rhythms and many of the problems it presents.
But when he saw a swarm of red brake lights 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh on the Dukes’ trip back from George Mason, something immediately crossed his mind. “Oh boy,” he thought.
Sarge had waited in accidents before, sometimes for as many as six or seven hours, but never anything like this. As the hours stretched on, he kept the bus running, providing heat and electricity for those on board. Gas, thankfully, was never a concern, as he said the vehicle had enough fuel to run for three days.
When not trying to sleep and monitor the bus’ gauges, he would chat with players who have become pseudo-family members over the years. For the Beaver Falls native who worked full-time installing fiber-optic cable systems until he retired three years ago, the ordeal was another reminder of why he loves what he does.
“From talking to these guys here, you get to know where they’re from and where they grow up,” he said. “A lot of them have never been anywhere because of their culture and where they grew up. Being around the different people, it thrills me.”
*******
Cheryl Kluesner’s middle school students weren’t in a dire or compromising situation. But after their Dubuque, Iowa-bound bus had idled in the same spot for more than 12 hours, the kids had understandably grown a little restless.
So when they saw on ESPN that a bus carrying a college basketball team was right near them, Kluesner saw not only a distraction, but an opportunity to inject some fun into an increasingly worrisome predicament.
She walked over to the Dukes’ bus, explained their situation and asked if a few players might want to come over. They happily obliged. Once there, they started to chat. The students explained they were from a town about 30 miles from where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. They asked the players about their stats and tried to teach them some of their favorite dance moves.
“It sounded like they were all getting tired of being stuck, so I think this might have brightened their spirits, too,” said Riley Fangman, one of the students.
Even after the players left, they maintained a bond with the students. The Dukes shared some of the food they received from a grocery store with them and helped dig out their new friends’ bus with trashcan lids and cardboard pizza boxes. Once traffic started to move, their respective buses flashed their lights at each other as a final goodbye.
“The Duquesne Dukes have a new following from afar,” Kluesner said.
******
Even at age 79, Ray Goss is in good shape. He has experienced the kind of physical wear and tear that comes with aging, from stem-cell treatments for his joints to a possible knee replacement in the future. But in his 48th year as the voice of Duquesne basketball, he approaches his job with the same vigor he had when he was a much younger man.
When ESPN and CNN flashed images of the Dukes holed away in their bus, the picture often presented was one of a group of energetic and plucky college students making the best of an otherwise dreadful situation. The way the players weathered the wait was endearing, but not entirely surprising given their age. But how was that older gentleman on the far left side of the photo handling those same conditions?
“I can adjust to things pretty well,” Goss said. “Mentally, it wasn’t a strain because, I don’t know, I guess I’m used to adversity. I didn’t feel any ‘Oh, man, I need to rest for three days.’ I’m ready to go tonight [Tuesday night’s game vs. La Salle]. These kids, they always talk about travel and getting their rest. If I can get to the game and sit down, I’m okay.”
While players killed time on their phones, tablets and other electronic devices, Goss did what he often does when he travels with the team for road games. He read books and magazines, worked on Cryptoquip puzzles and answered calls and texts from about 15 different people, including his four daughters.
The problem was that Goss began running out of things to occupy his time. As the wait persisted, he finished the 450-page book he was about halfway through when the trip began. While he got some rest, he has a hard time getting comfortable on buses, meaning that he was never able to sleep for more than an hour at a time.
With players extending their long legs across the aisle for some much-needed comfort, even getting to the bathroom at the back of the bus was an adventure at times.
“It was like a hurdle race,” Goss said with a laugh.
For someone who has been the Dukes’ play-by-play announcer for nearly five decades, the trip rekindled some old, albeit not always pleasant, memories. In Feb. 1983, an Amtrak train carrying Goss and the Duquesne team took 10 hours to get from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia because of a snowstorm. The trip ended up being worth it, as the Dukes upset Temple in overtime. 
Six years ago, the Dukes attempted to head home following a game at George Washington. After the bus driver convinced then-coach Ron Everhart that they’d try to make the trek back, they got caught in snow in the middle of Washington, D.C. They ended up getting some cars to take players and coaches to a nearby hotel, where they stayed that night before leaving the following morning.
Those moments live on as stories and after last weekend’s misadventure on the turnpike, he has another one for the collection.
“That had to be the worst one,” Goss said.

 

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Tracking the Penguins' prospects - 01-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

Here's a glance at all the Penguins' prospects - such as goaltender Tristan Jarry (above) - as well as other minor leaguers on NHL contracts (who aren't currently on the NHL roster). Players are listed with their statistics to date this season:

Forwards
Player, position Team (League) Games
Played
Goals-
Assists-
Points
Penalty
Minutes
Anthony Angello, C Cornell (NCAA) 19 8-6-14 14
Josh Archibald, RW Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 37 7-4-11 24
Tyler Biggs, RW Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 5 1-1-2 9
Theodor Blueger, C Minnesota State Mankato (NCAA) 26 6-15-21 25
Blaine Byron, C Maine (NCAA) 26 6-10-16 8
Jean-Sebastien Dea, C Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 42 12-11-23 18
Jake Guentzel, C Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA) 23 11-22-33 16
Troy Josephs, C Clarkson (NCAA) 20 5-3-8 29
Sam Lafferty, C Brown (NCAA) 19 3-1-4 0
Jaden Lindo, RW Owen Sound (OHL) 11 11-10-21 14
Matia Marcantuoni, C Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
Wheeling (ECHL)
10
9
2-3-5
3-4-7
0
10
Kael Mouillierat, LW Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 35 7-12-19 38
Nikita Pavlychev, C Des Moines (USHL) 35 4-10-14 110
Conor Sheary, LW Pittsburgh (NHL)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
16
28
2-1-3
7-26-33
2
4
Dominik Simon, C Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 42 12-19-31 22
Daniel Sprong, RW Pittsburgh (NHL)
Charlottetown (QMJHL)
18
13
2-0-0
8-9-17
0
8
Oskar Sundqvist, C Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 37 5-10-15 22
Frederik Tiffels, LW Western Michigan (NCAA) 24 6-4-10 21
Dominik Uher, C Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 42 5-8-13 29
Scott Wilson, LW Pittsburgh (NHL)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
5
32
0-1-1
20-14-34
7
19
Anton Zlobin, RW Wheeling (ECHL) 23 7-11-18 23
Defensemen
Player Team (League) Games
Played
Goals-
Assists-
Points
Penalty
Minutes
Niclas Andersen Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 39 3-7-10 14
Dane Birks Michigan Tech (NCAA) 17 0-2-2 10
Tim Erixon Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 31 2-10-12 16
Reid McNeill Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 38 0-4-4 38
Will O'Neill Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 40 5-17-22 33
Steve Oleksy Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 33 0-9-9 55
Harrison Ruopp Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
Wheeling (ECHL)
0
27
0-0-0
2-2-4
4
61
Ryan Segalla Connecticut (NCAA) 12 0-2-2 12
Jeff Taylor Union (NCAA) 24 2-6-8 27
Goaltenders
Player Team (League) Games
Played
Record GAA SV% Shutouts
Tristan Jarry Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) 12 11-1-0 1.63 .941 3
Sean Maguire Boston University (NCAA) 12 7-4-1 2.51 .914 1
Matt Murray Pittsburgh (NHL)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL)
4
25
2-1-1
16-8-0
1.72
1.97
.938
.933
0
4

(Photo: KDP Studio/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins)

 

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Counting down to Signing Day 2016: Defensive line

Written by Sam Werner on .

Up next in our look at Pitt's 2016 recruiting class as we approach national signing day: Offensive line.
Previous positions: Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line

Early enrollees:
Patrick Jones (6-5, 230 lbs)
Grassfield High School (Chesapeake, Va.)
Rivals: 2*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 78 DE
247: 3*, No. 60 SDE

Verbal commitments:
Zack Gilbert (6-0, 241 lbs)
South Mecklenburg High School (Charlotte, N.C.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 33 WDE
Scout: 3*, No. 133 DE
247: 3*, No. 42 SDE

Bryce Hargrove (6-6, 255 lbs)
Coventry High School (Akron, Ohio)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 76 DE
247: 3*, No. 79 SDE

Rashad Wheeler (6-3, 270 lbs)
Central Catholic High School (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 43 DT
247: 3*, No. 60 DT

Amir Watts (6-3, 275 lbs)
Phllips High School (Chicago)
Rivals: 4*, No. 25 DT
Scout: 4*, No. 38 DE
247: 3*, No. 37 DT

Remaining targets:
Keyshon Camp (6-3, 274 lbs)
Lake Gibson High School (Lakeland, Fla.)
Rivals: 3*, No. 38 DT
Scout: 4*, No. 27 DT
247: 4*, No. 29 DT

Rashad Weaver (6-5, 245 lbs)
Cooper City High School (Cooper City, Fla.)
Rivals: 2*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 124 DE
247: 2*, No. 132 DT

Defensive line is one of the positions that Pat Narduzzi and his staff hoped to load up on in their first recruiting class, and they certainly appear to have done just that. Let's start at defensive end.  Jones and Gilbert are true DEs, and Hargrove could end up starting his career there, too. Jones is already on campus, and will get a head start on his classmates in spring practice. Still, I would be pretty surprised if any of the defensive ends play this year for Pitt. That's a position that will go from pretty thin this year to relatively deep in 2016 with the "additions" of Dewayne Hendrix and Allen Edwards (Edwards redshirted as a JUCO transfer, and Hendrix had to sit after transferring from Tennessee). With Hendrix, Edwards, Ejuan Price (who hasn't officially gotten a sixth year yet, but is widely expected to), Rori Blair and Shakir Soto all in the mix, it'd take something special for one of the freshmen to see the field. Which of course is a good thing. You want experienced depth (especially at spots along both lines), and if a freshman proves his worth to get into that mix, well, that means he's a special player. You don't want to play young guys because you have to. It looks like Pitt is trying to land one more defensive end, too, to balance out the depth a little bit, and Weaver (a former Michigan commit) is probably the odds-on favorite for that spot.
As for experienced depth, the same cannot be said for the middle of Pitt's defensive line. Tyrique Jarrett returns at defensive tackle, but Pitt will have to make up for the loss of K.K. Mosley-Smith and Darryl Render. Guys like Justin Moody and Jeremiah Taleni saw a bit more playing time this year, but it wouldn't surprise me if a guy like Watts, Wheeler, or (if he signs) Camp end up in the rotation as a true freshman. I'd give the edge to Watts and Camp, because of their recruiting pedigree, but you never know until guys get to camp. Regardless, it was important for Pitt to land at least a couple of highly-regarded defensive tackles in this class, because that's an area where they're going to likely need contributions immediately.

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Empty Netter Assists - Bad memories 2.0 - 01-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-"Probably as a 20-something-year-old kid, if somebody told you that, ‘Well, here’s the deal: You’re going to win two Stanley Cups, your body is going to get all beat up and battered, but people are going to say you had a successful career and you’re going to, in your mind, fulfill your lifelong dream. And at the end of it, at 55, you might be drooling half the time and can’t recall your kids’ names and birthdays and all that stuff. Would you trade it?’" - Former Penguins left winger Phil Bourque (right) on his struggles with concussions.

-“I do think about how it will be as the years go on. I do sometimes have some problems with short-term memory stuff. I don’t want to think too far [ahead], but sometimes I start thinking about when I’m 60, what it will be like.” - Former Penguins right winger Andre Roy, an enforcer, on his struggles with head injuries.

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender Matt Murray pulled out of the AHL's All-Star game due to an undisclosed injury.

-“I’m not going to come down here and sulk and be upset about getting sent down. I’m going to take it as a positive and keep playing my game.” - Left winger Conor Sheary on being assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wednesday.

-Happy 30th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Thomas Greiss. A free agent during the 2014 offseason, Greiss spent the 2014-15 season with the Penguins. In 20 games, he had a 9-6-3 record with a 2.59 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. This past offseason, he joined the Islanders as a free agent.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins right winger Robert Dome. A first-round pick in 1997, Dome, one of the bigger busts in franchise history, spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1997-98, he appeared in 30 games and recorded seven points. After spending all of 1998-99 in the AHL and IHL, Dome played in 22 games for the Penguins in 1999-2000 and scored seven points. After spending 2000-01 in the Czech Republic and the AHL and missing most of 2001-02 due to an injury, Dome joined the Flames as a free agent in the 2002 offseason. In 52 games for the Penguins, he scored 14 points.

-Happy 30th birthday to former Penguins left winger Chris Bourque. Claimed off waivers from the Capitals just prior to the 2009-10 season, Bourque's Penguins career amounted to 20 games and three assists. Midway through the season, Bourque, the son of Hockey Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque, was re-claimed off waivers by the Capitals. He currently plays for the AHL's Hershey Bears.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Catching up with former Penguins right winger Lee Stempniak (right), now of the Devils.

-With Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin sitting out the All-Star Game, Islanders forward John Tavares will serve as captain of the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division team.

-The Capitals assigned defenseman Ryan Stanton to Hershey of the AHL.

-The Flyers assigned forward Jason LaBarbera to Lehigh Valley of the AHL.

Atlantic Division

-The Maple Leafs assigned forward Josh Leivo to Toronto of the AHL.

Central Division

-Blackhawks captain/forward Jonathan Toews will be forced to sit out one game for skipping the All-Star Game

-EN Says: Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. This rule penalizes fans who pay major money to see elite players in legit games of consequence. We understand the NHL's desire to have the best talent available for the All-Star Game. It's an event which somehow makes the NHL (and the NHLPA) money. If you want to fine players for skipping games, that would be a better alternative.

-Predators forward and former Penguin James Neal will replace Neal in the game. Fire Jim Rutherford.

-The Predators assigned forward Kevin Fiala to Milwaukee of the AHL.

-The Avalanche assigned goaltender Roman Will to San Antonio of the AHL.

Pacific Division

-Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman (right) was suspended indefinitely pending a disciplinary hearing with the NHL over a collision with linesman Don Henderson Wednesday. Henderson was hospitalized as a result of the collision. 

-Flames forward Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris are each sidelined due to undisclosed injuries.

-Canadiens forward John Scott, voted in to the All-Star Game as a member of the Coyotes, was credited with writing a piece for The Players Tribune in which he claimed an NHL representative tried to get him to bow out of the game by asking him, "Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?" 

-“It’s an all-star game. It’s not life and death.”  - NHL deputy commisioner Bill Daly on outrage directed at the All-Star Game over Scott's involvement.

-Ducks defenesman Clayton Stoner was given a three-year hunting ban and a $10,000 fine for illegally killing a grizzly bear in British Columbia

-The NHL is expected to stage next season's All-Star Game in Los Angeles' Staples Center.

-The Kings assigned forward Kyle Clifford to Ontario of the AHL for conditioning purposes

Adams Division

-Goaltender Matt Skoff made 41 saves for Penn State in a 7-4 loss to Michigan.

(Photos: Paul Battaglia/Associated Press, Stephen Dunn/Allsport, Rich Lam/Getty Images and Penguins Hockey Cards)

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Life of an NHL nomad tougher off the ice for Stempniak - 01-28-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Right winger Lee Stempniak received a small honor last week when he was named the NHL's second star of the week. It capped off a stretch of three games in which Stempniak had four goals and one assist.

Did the recognition mean a lot to Stempniak?

"No, not really," he said. "I mean it's nice. I think it's more of a reflection of how our line has played and how our team has played as a whole."

Stempniak had been a surprising part to an equally surprising Devils team. Initially brought to New Jersey on a professional tryout contract this past offseason by Ray Shero, his former general manager in Pittsburgh, Stempniak is the Devils' second leading scorer with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 50 games. That offensive output has helped the rebuilding Devils, to surge to a 25-20-5 record and playoff contention. 

Movement isn't anything new for Stempniak. He has played on eight teams in his 11 NHL seasons including five in the past three seasons alone.

Earlier this week, prior to the Devils' game against the Penguins in Consol Energy Center, Stempniak talked about his life as an NHL nomad.

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What was it like this past offseason waiting until late into the summer for a contract?

"It was a difficult summer in terms of not knowing where I was going to be. Having to wade through the offers and opportunities and ultimately decided to come to New Jersey. There's some comfort for me knowing [general manager Ray Shero] knew me as a person, as a player. It was a fresh start with New Jesey. New [general manager], new coaches and some openings for new players and that was really appealing to me. The opportunity to go to a team and not just make a team but I really believed I could play a big role on the team. I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to do that but I had a lot of belief in myself and New Jersey was the right fit."

From your brief time in Pittsburgh, did you know anything about John Hynes during his time as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach?

"Just from guys coming up. Guys that were sort of up and down, really liked him, said he he was a great coach. Heard great things. I knew [left winger] Bobby Farnham from being around Boston [during] summers and he spoke really highly of him. I've been impressed since day one."

What is it like playing for Hynes?

"He's a great communicator. I think that's the one thing that coaches now, the good communicators need to clearly lay out what their plan is for the team, their identity for the team. The coaches all use video very well to drive those those points home. He's intense. He's very fair. He knows how to get us to play the best way. The system he has for us really suits our team. It's a credit to the coaching staff and the players they brought in."

This is the second year you've gotten a contract late into the offseason. Does that ever get routine or scary?

"I wouldn't say scary. I guess disappointing in a sense that you have a young family and you want to get situated and be ready to go. I really had a lot of confidence and belief in myself. I feel like I had a good year last year in New York and finished very strong in Winnipeg. I knew I could play. It was just the matter of finding the right opportunity. The way the system was, there was a lot of contracts that didn't go up much. It was sort of a log jam for a lot of players. For me, the important thing was to not be bitter about anything. To go in with a clear mind and be motivated. I approached it the same way as when I went to New York last year. It was a one-year contract with a new coach, a new organization. They didn't know anything about me. I had to go out and have a good training camp and earn a role or ice time. That's been my story my whole career."

You've been with five teams in three seasons. Is that harder on or off the ice?

"Off the ice I'd say. The last two years, I've been separated from my family. When I was here, I got traded to Pittsburgh, my daughters were five days old and they were in the [neonatal intensive-care unit] for a month because they were [born] six weeks early. Fortunately, I got to go home I think four times during that time I was here and spend the day. Last year, I didn't see the wife and kids for two and a half month when I was in Winnipeg. That part of it is hard. I understand that's part of the business. That's nothing compared to people who are in the military or stuff like that. But to me, that's the hardest part."

On the flip side, you're clearly in demand. That's a good problem.

"It is. I've been on expiring contracts. Last year with New York, they won the Presidents' Trophy so that was a case of going to another playoff team but in the past, with teams at the bottom of the standings, going to playoff teams on expiring contracts. So it's sort of circumstantial in a sense."

(Photos: Getty Images)

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