The Daily Bongo

January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 -- Evening

There have been a few stories about Barbaro in the news since Monday. People are still coming to terms with the fact that he was euthanized. The person hardest hit by the death was Dr. Dean Richardson, who has treated Barbaro since the fracture occurred in May. Richardson said that he become emotionally attached to Barbaro. His daily routine was to stop at the ICU to check on Barbaro every morning, and it's hard to know that he isn't there anymore. It seems that the final night for Barbaro was filled with pain because he developed laminitis in his front legs. As Richardson said, Barbaro couldn't find a comfortable spot, and was very unhappy in the last few hours. The decision to euthanize was the right one, but Richardson still hoped that he could have done more. As Richardson told the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Because you wanted the horse so badly to survive, to me, the goal wasn't achieved. We didn't save the horse. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or anything like that about what we did. But it's still so profoundly disappointing, that it's hard not to feel like you've let him down." Very touching words. The question that some have had is should the decision to put Barbaro down have occurred in May when the accident happened. That's the thing that is really hard to answer. We might have had a differnt outlook if Barbaro didn't develop laminitis, if the infection hadn't occurred in the right leg, if the laminitis didn't worsen, if, if if. Unfortunately, it turned out the way it did, but I would agree with the owners and Dr. Richardson. You have to make the effort, knowing that the odds might be against you. I had a diabetic cat who became very ill. I found out later that the vets gave him a 20% chance to survive. They didn't tell me that at the time, and I spent $2000 treating him. He lived, and continued to have a happy and healthy (although diabetic) life for a few years after that. it's a personal decision that we all wanted to turn out better for Barbaro.

I watched this week's American Idol shows. The auditions were the usual mix of good and funny. Read the recap for more details.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers this evening at Mellon Arena. It was a great game with alot of excitement in the stands because Mike Tomlin, the new coach of the Steelers was sitting in B18 (we are in C17). There were crowds of people coming to get his autograph, and security had to stop them from bugging him after awhile. Also, Bill Peduto, who is running for mayor of Pittsburgh, was sitting just two seats away from us. On to the game! It was a great one. The Pens are playing like they want to be a playoff team. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job, stopping 32 shots for a shutout. Everyone was scoring. Michel Ouellet, Dominic Moore, and Ryan Whitney all scored goals in the 3-0 win. It was really an exciting game, and everyone is really loving the way the team is playing. It is such a change from last year. Check out my pictures from the game.

Monday, January 29, 2007 -- Early Evening

Very sad news today. Barbaro was euthanized this morning at 10:30 am. The news was announced by Dr. Dean Richardson, and Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, had spent the morning with Barbaro before making the decision. It seems that things had really take a turn for the worst this week, and Richardson admitted that Barbaro was not his usual self and in alot of pain this morning. It has to be hard on the all of the staff of the New Bolton Center because caring for Barbaro gave them a special relationship with him. Richardson was fighting back tears during his press conference. It's a shame that Barbaro couldn't have lived longer, but in the end, it is for the best

There have been rumors on the local news shows that there is going to be a framework of a plan between the government officials and the Pens announced in the next two days. As the Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, was saying, he understood that the Pens needed soemthing by the end of January, and the officials are trying to do their best to get something done. We'll have to see if there is any truth to the rumor. I don't want to get my hopes up to only have them dashed in the end.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 -- Early Evening

Barbaro is not doing well. Earlier in the week, Barbaro had the cast that was put on his right hind leg a few weeks ago, removed to have a brace put in its place. It seems that Barbaro has not been tolerating the brace well, and the vets had to do some more surgery yesterday to put in some more pins and plates in the leg to stablize the bones. The problem is that they can't put a cast on because Barbaro has an abscess on that leg that has to be treated. Dr. Dean Richardson is worried though because the discomfort that Barbaro is filling in his hind legs puts him at higher risk to develop laminitis in his front feet. It that happens, they might have to put Barbaro down. The problem is that Barbaro has major problems with both hind legs that are not resolving. This is very sad news, made especially so because it comes just weeks after hearing that Barbaro might be able to leave New Bolton Center.

I missed the new episode of Endurance: High Sierras last night because I was watching the Pens game. Fortunately, I recorded the show and watched it today. The episode had the super teams competition. Unfortunately, the super team of Blue, Yellow, and Green lost, and Blue and Yellow were sent to the Temple of Fate. Aric and Lilly of the Yellow team were sent home. Read my recap of the show.

Saturday, January 27, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Phoenix Coyotes this evening. The dads of the players attended tonight's game too. It was a great idea of Ray Shero to have the dads travel with the sons for a weekend of games. The dads attend the games (yesterday and today), had a dinner with their sons, and there was a father golfing trip. It looks like the dads are having a great time in the box watching the game. I missed most of the first period, but arrived in time to see the Pens' second goal, which was a beauty scored by Maxime Talbot. Score is Pens 2 - Coyotes 1 at the end of the first period. The first goal was scored by Ryan Malone. Jocelyn Thibault was in goal tonight for the Pens. The Coyotes tied things up, but seconds into a power play for the Pens with six minutes left in the period, Sidney Crosby made a pass to Ryan Whitney who got a goal to make the score 3-2. With 2:23 left in the second period, Jarrko Ruutu got into the scoring spirit and had a goal. The Pens have been playing really well over the past two nights, and I think that being in the playoff run has really energized the team. Crosby was on fire at the beginning of the third period. First, he had something that he thought looked like a goal--but the refs didn't call it. The game continued, and Crosby kept on fighting, and made another goal as he was falling on his back. From a closer look at the first attempt, it really wasn't a goal. Crosby has 25 goals this season. Just seconds after Crosby's goal, Ronald Petrovicky scores a goal. The score is now 6-2. The Pens keep up the attack, and Mark Recchi scores his 501st goal with an assist by Crosby. Crosby has four points this evening. The Pens win two in a row with a final score of 7-2.

Friday, January 26, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Dallas Stars this evening. Mark Eaton was back on the ice tonight. Michel Therrien said that he isn't going to play Eaton much in the game to give him a chance to get back into the game. The Stars are the first to score on the power play with a goal by Sergei Zubov. Sidney Crosby almost scored a goal, but it was called off because it wasn't clear if it went into the net. During the period break, we hear about the Ray Shero plan to have the fathers hang out with the sons this weekend. They have a slew of activities planned, and the dads have a box to themselves to watch the game. There was alot of excitement in the box during the second period when Jordan Staal scored a goal to tie the game. A little bit later, Crosby got a rebound of his own to score a goal to pull ahead 2-1. The Stars didn't let the Pens keep the lead for long when Jussi Jokinen scored. We hear too that Mark Recchi is getting credit for the second Pens goal. The goal is number 499 for Recchi. It wasn't looking good in the third when the Stars got another gaol to take the lead, but less than three minutes later, Recchi tied things up with his 500th career goal. The game went into overtime, and things were still tid up. Shoot out. We know how good the Pens are at shoot outs, and even the announcers were commenting on how good the Stars were. But that didn't stop out Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job of stopping all three Star challengers, and Erik Christensen showed that he was hot stuff at the shoot out. Crosby missed again when it counts--those nerves making a showing. But in the end it didn't matter because the Pens win. They are now sole owners of the eighth place spot in the Eastern Conference. Final score: 4-3.

Friday, January 26, 2007 -- Evening

Barbaro is doing well after treatment yesterday. He had the cast replaced on his left hind leg and a new brace put on his right hind leg. It appears there was an abscess on his right hind leg, and the brace will provide support while allowing the vets to take treat the abscess. Barbaro is doing well though, and continues to have a good attitude and appetite. The vets are planning to replace the cast on the left hind leg on a regular interval every two weeks.

I finished reading Richard Dawkins' latest book The God Delusion this weekend. Dawkins is an atheist, and the book is an analysis of religious belief. Dawkins covers topics such as why people believe, and how religious belief has not been good for society. It challenges science and evolution, and many acts of war and terrorism have been carried out in the name of God. Read my review of the book for more details.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 -- Morning

The NHL All-Stars was last night, and I have to admit that I usually find All-Star games a tad on the boring side. This game was no different. As usual,it was a scoring fest, but surprisingly, Sidney Crosby didn't get a single point. Crosby shouldn't feel bad though because Wayne Gretzky also didn't score a point in his first All-Star game. Both were 19. The Western Conference won the game with a a final score of 12-9.

Because of the All-Star game, I am behind on my viewings of the American Idol auditions. I was just able to sneak in the Memphis auditions last night before the start of the All-Star game. I'll have a recap of the New York auditions tonight.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 -- Afternoon

Ed Rendell talked to Ron Burkle yesterday, and says that he is optimistic that a deal can be done between the officials and the Pens. It's interesting that Burkle and Rendell have a relationship from Burkle contributing to Rendell's campaigns and to see Burkle getting more involved recently with the negotiations. The thing that I wonder sometimes is if Mario Lemieux is really concerned about doing what is right and good for the team, or if he is concerned about injustices made toward him? Sometimes, I think that he has taken the whole process more personally than someone who is an experienced businessman or politician. He feels too much about what is right, and is willing to spite them all for petty injustices that he perceives. The positive thing that I heard today was Rendell saying there is still room to tweak things. That means that Burkle is providing the voice of reason---I hope!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 -- Morning

I watched the NHL All-Stars programming last night. They has the Young Stars game in which Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Ryan Whitney competed. Malkin didn't score, but Whitney did. I think that the guys were just having fun and enjoying the experience as much as possible. I haven't seen Malkin with such a huge smile on his face that just stayed there. After the Young Stars, they had the skills competition. Surprisingly, Sidney Crosby was picked for only one skill. What was that you might ask? Accuracy? Nope, shoot out! My jaw dropped because we know that the one thing that Crosby has a problem with in the regular season is the shoot out. Well, he gets two out of three to help the Eastern Conference win the skills section! They asked him about it afterwards, and he said that there wasn't the pressure that you have in a game where the score could mean a win or loss. This is just for fun. So that does indeed mean that nerves gets to him. I don't know what the solution is to that because I know that I have trouble controlling my nerves.

In other news that will be of interest to Pens fans is the arena process. Mario Lemieux has expressed his displeasure with the last meeting, basically because Don Barden was invited and now seems to be expecting to be involved in the development of the Hill District area, and to make money from the deal. The Pens have taken offense at this, and now are shopping around again. They contacted Houston as a possible location for the team, and are going to get a tour sometime later this week--maybe Friday. When Ed Rendell, PA governor, heard that he said again that the deal the Pens got was a sweet one, where they pay less than 18% of the costs for building (which is less than other sports teams in PA), pay $2 million in rent, and get a cut of the revenues. Rendell says that if Lemieux makes a move to take the team out of Pittsburgh, Rendell will petition the NHL for a decision. Gary Bettman was asked about this at the All-Star game, and his comment was: "We love Mario, but we're going to have to evaluate any potential transaction on the merits. That's what the board does." It seems that before the NHL Board of Governors would allow the team to relocate, they would take into consideration the "tremendous" fan base in Pittsburgh and the "measurably sweetened Plan B" for the arena. (Quotes are from Bettman.) I can understand Lemieux's pique at the whole thing when Barden was pulled into the talks, but hopefully, he will get over it and get back to the tables to discuss the matter. The decision has to be made soon because the schedule has to be made for next season.

More news on the hiring of the Steelers coach. It seems that the Steelers contacted both Mike Tomlin's and Russ Grimm's agents on Saturday and discussed salary. Art Rooney said that he made it quite clear to both sides that this was not a final deal, but an investigation. Either Grimm or his agent misinterpreted the event and decided that the offer was made, and then recinded when Tomlin was hired. Grimm is going to be an offensive coordinator with Ken Whisenhunt and the Arizona Cardinals. There has been alot of discussion locally about the role that an assistant coach plays in comparison to a head coach, and the thought is that for the Steelers, Grimm couldn't have risen above his earlier role to really gain the respect of the players and other coaches. It's the whole buddy concept. A head coach is not a buddy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 -- Early Afternoon

The Eclipse Awards were held last night, and Invasor was named Horse of the Year. He beat out Barbaro, Bernardini, and Lava Man for the award. Bernardini was awarded the 3-year-old Horse of the Year with Barbaro finishing in second place. I can understand why Barbaro didn't get either award. It's hard to consider a horse as the winner of a year long award when his racing time was at the beginning of the year, and he spent most of the rest of the year injured. I know that everyone has a sentimental tie to Barbaro, but Invasor is a good choice. I think that he won out over Bernardini because of the Breeders Cup result. On the Barbaro health side of things, he is doing much better. Dr. Dean Richardson, who received an award for his care of Barbaro at the Eclipse dinner, said that Barbaro is being weaned from the pain medication for the laminitis. Also, it appears that Barbaro will most likely be headed to Kentucky when he is released from the New Bolton Center. That isn't expected now for at least a month, if not longer. When Barbaro is released, he will most likely be under the care of Dr. Scott Morrison of Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic.

Mario Lemieux said yesterday that he was very disappointed in the offer that the government officials made to the Pens for the arena deal. He said again that he is going to look for the best offer, even if that is outside of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, and Allegheny County Chief Executive, Dan Onorato, said that they understand Lemieux's feelings of frustration, but that they believe that it is still possible to work out a deal with the Pens. I have to admit that after the first meeting, I was starting to feel some optimism. However, something went horribly wrong in the second meeting between the city, county, and state officials. I tend to believe that it was the inclusion of Don Barden in the meeting. It seems that Barden wants to get something back for the money that he is going to put in. In order to now give him that money, the officials will have to lessen the deal for the Pens. Of course that isn't going to be acceptable. I don't know why they are even going down that path with Barden because his agreement to put $7.5 million in per year had no string attached. At least that appeared to be the government's deal with the winner of the slots license. Things are definitely not looking positive.

Monday, January 22, 2007 -- Evening

The Steelers had a press conference this afternoon at 3:30 to introduce Mike Tomlin to the Pittsburgh media. Tomlin had an quick introduction to Pittsburgh fans as could be seen by the videos on the local television stations of Tomlin arriving in Pittsburgh and being approached by fans for autographs, pictures, and words of encourage. He's going to learn very quickly that he is going to be beseiged by fans wherever he is. I'm sure that in future, they also won't hesitate to give him suggestions on how he can do his job better. And regardless of how he does, there are going to be those out there who think he needs to do a better job. One of the first things that Tomlin made clear in his press conference is that he is going to keep defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau. You have to feel in a way for Russ Grimm because had such high hopes for a coaching job, and now probably won't even have a job. There might be some hope though for Grimm because Bill Parcels has retired as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Sunday, January 21, 2007 -- Evening

It seems that it is official. The Steelers are in negotiations with Mike Tomlin's agent and will formally announce that Mike Tomlin will be the new head coach. Supposedly, the Rooneys told Russ Grimm today that they were going with Tomlin. A news conference will be announced, probably tomorrow, to make the formal announcement.

Sunday, January 21, 2007 -- Early Evening

Today has not been a good day for me to get caught up on things. I was at the Pens game last night, and then went out to eat dinner with friends. By the time I got home and posted my pictures, it was quite late. So I have spent most of today feeling tired and napping. I did manage to watch yesterday's new episode of Endurance: High Sierras. The episode was an interesting one with some of the teams learning that the game is being played as a popularity contest and that the strong teams should be targetted and eliminated while numbers are on the weaker teams side. Read my recap for more details on the episode.

Sunday, January 21, 2007 -- Early Afternoon

The Steelers have issued a statement saying that the team has "not concluded a contract agreement with a coach." I think that this is a very interesting phrasing since it doesn't necessarily imply that they haven't made a decision--just that they haven't concluded the agreement. There were conflicting stories yesterday with Sports Illustrated breaking the story that Mike Tomlin was going to be the new hire. ESPN had initially denied the validity of the story, then they also agreed with the rumor. Meanwhile, the local Trib Live said that Russ Grimm was the new coach. Most of the sports reporters seem to be sticking with the Mike Tomlin story, even though the Steelers have made a denial this morning. We'll have to see what happens next week.

Saturday, January 20, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening at Mellon Arena. Everytime the Maple Leafs play the Pens, a good mix of Maple Leaf fans come to the game--because it is cheaper to come to Pittsburgh to watch a game then to try to get tickets to a game in Toronto. I heard the seats are extremely expensive and hard to come by. The game gave the standing room only crowd everything you can possibly want a game. There were high emotions on the ice and in the stands as was evidenced by the fights both in the stands and on the ice. There was a natural hat trick by Mark Recchi, a penalty shot by Jarrko Ruutu (he made it), great goaltending on the part of Marc-Andre Fleury, and a huge win by the Pens. This was an important win because it moves the Pens above the Maple Leafs into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, and Evgeni Malkin had five assists. It was a very electric atmosphere, and I know that I am wondering how much longer will with have the team here because the talks from a few nights ago were not that good, and there stories in the local media that the Pens are no longer happy with Plan B. Check out my pictures of the game. Final score: Pens 8 - Maple Leafs 2.

Rumors are rampant about the Steelers selecting a head coach. Stories are abounding that the Rooneys are going to offer the job to Mike Tomlin. So far, both Tomlin and the Rooneys are denying the story, but there might be an announcement on Monday.

Friday, January 19, 2007 -- Evening

There is still not a deal between the Pens and the local and state government officials. Last night's meeting started around 9:20 p.m. and lasted for 90 minutes. It was attended by local officials, Ed Rendell, and Don Barden who won the casino license. Ed Rendell claims that it is the best deal offered to a sports team. The deal is supposed to cost the Pens less than deals made with other sports teams in the state. There are no real details on the deal, and neither side is really talking. The only thing that can be noted is that the atmosphere doesn't seem as optimistic as it was after the earlier meeting.

Barbaro is doing better with each passing day. His vital signs are stable, his appetite is good, and his pain medication is being reduced. There are very good signs. The next update is scheduled for next Wednesday, January 24, unless there are developments that warrant publication.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 -- Evening

I was irritated after watching the local news today. There was a story on about the problems that PAT bus is having in the area. For the past several years, the transit system has been begging for money, threatening service cuts if millions of dollars weren't poured into the system. The politicians listened, and where did it get us? Back in the same position now. Only now the transit system admits that the problem may have been long term mismanagement. After all, how else can you explain a system that gobbles up government money while having one of the highest fares in the country? Now, they realize that just throwing more and more money into the bottomless pit isn't going to solve the problem. They are going to have to cut staff, and reduce the number of bus trips that are made on routes. Some routes will be eliminated. Now everyone is again up in arms. What do some of the activist groups say but "why build an arena when the money could go to the bus system?" Sure, why not throw more money into an poorly run system? I say fix the system. Give some of the overpaid bus drivers a pay cut. Cut routes that have buses going out to only pick up a handful of passengers on a regular basis. Yes it will hurt some, but what else can you do? Obviously putting more government dollars into the system hasn't helped. I have had problems with the bus system ever since the bus drivers went on strike for a few weeks a few years ago to gouge money out of the pockets of the passengers. Now we have a system were the average benefits package is $60,000. Yes, you did hear that right! $60,000--average package. Where I work, the benefits package is around 30% of the salary of the person. So someone making $30,000 has a benefits package of $10,000. That accounts for vacation, sick time, medical benefits, and retirement among other things. Do you begin to see the problem here? Yep, I say, let's pour even more money into PAT. Who needs an arena that will give us the city money from entertainment tax on hockey, musical concerts, NCAA games, boxing matches, Ice Capades, etc. Sometimes people tick me off with their stupidity.

News with the Pens this evening. The meeting was still in progress at the start of the Pens and Boston Bruins game. Let's hope that there is good news soon. As for the spear in that Jason Blake put on Sidney Crosby in the New York Islanders game on Tuesday, Blake is being fined $1000 for the act. Ray Shero was really upset about the intentional act to hurt a key player in the last few seconds of the game. The league must have seen his point, but the controversy is that some people are saying that Crosby over embellished. I don't know--I'm not sure what I would do if I was speared in the midsection by someone behind me. Crosby isn't make a big deal of it though. I think that Crosby is a class act.

Now onto the game. The Pens are the first to score with a goal by Ryan Malone with assists from Crosby and Mark Recchi. The Pens are playing well, and it shows with another goal in the last two minutes of the first period. This time Jordan Staal gets an assist on Evgeni Malkin's 23 goal of the season. And boy, it is a beauty--Malkin shooting it right over the shoulder of the Bruins goalie, Hannu Toivonen. The second period starts with a quick goal by Glenn Murray of the Bruins. Although the Pens aren't playing that poorly in the second period, the Bruins are playing much better, and they have tied the game. Score is now 2-2. Darn! The Bruins are really putting the moves on Marc-Andre Fleury and within a minute of their second goal, make another to take the lead. it looks like it was a deflection that went in the favor of the Bruins. The Pens were able to fend off a goal when the net was dislodged, and the Bruins fourth goal was called off. Finally! A good play--again by Malkin who moves the puck around people and over Toivonen shoulders into the net. The Pens have a power play, and Staal makes a beautiful move on the goalie. He kept on whacking at the puck, and got it under Toivonen's pads. Darn! With six minutes left in the game, the Bruins tie the game. The Pens and the Bruins are now battling with a fury. The clock ticks down and regulation time ends in a tie. Fleury made a couple of really beautiful saves in OT. Sergei Gonchar got a penalty with over a minute left in OT. Fleury made a wonderful save. He threw his stick, and if he hadn't, he might not have made the save. Fleury is really doing a great job. Time ran out and it is on to a shoot out. Fleury just did a great job in the OT. Shootout: Erik Christensen went first and scored. Unfortunately, the Bruins scored too. Then Malkin went, and gave a half-hearted attempt and missed. Fortunately Fleury stopped the next one. Crosby was next, and he also was stopped by Toivenen. Now it is up to Marc Savard who is stopped. Then Gonchar is stopped. Next is Phil Kessel who got the goal. It was really quite a good game, and I thought that Fleury did a great job. I just wonder why Michel Therrien put in Gonchar instead of Staal. Final score is 5-4 with the Bruins winning.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 -- Early Afternoon

Barbaro's owners and the New Bolten Center are going to be given a special Eclipse award at the January 22 awards dinner. The award is to honor the efforts that both have made in treating Barbaro and giving him a chance at a longer life. Barbaro, Invasor, Bernardini, and Lava Man are all contenders for the Horse of the Year award. Winners will be announced at the awards dinner.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens are going to met with Ed Rendell sometime tomorrow evening. The goal is to come up with a plan for funding. There wasn't any word on whether Mario Lemieux would be there, but there would be representatives from the Pens at the meeting. One of the nicest stories that I have seen in awhile was about a few of the Pens players handing out free pizzas to the students who were waiting for hours in the student rush lines. The line usually snakes around the building, and has contributed to the game sell-outs. The vice-president of communications, Tom McMillan had the idea to have the players ( Colby Armstrong, Maxime Talbot, and Chris Thorburn) hand out the pizzas, and it went over well with the chilled fans. The Pens really appreciate their fans, and it would be great if they will stay in town.

Russ Grimm met with the Steelers for five hours this afternoon. Good or bad? We won't know until we hear the final decision, and who knows when that will be.

I caught up on the American Idol shows. I wonder why I watch the show because parts of the show are depressing, especially when the person becomes heartbroken and starts crying. Then the god-awful singers come on, and I know that's why I'm hooked. Check out the show recaps.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 -- Morning

I didn't get a chance to watch the first set of auditions for American Idol last night. I have the show recorded, and plan on a four hour viewing of the show. The two hour shows in two consecutive nights is a tad draining because I also have the Pens games to attend and watch. Let's just say that American Idol will definitely be taking a back seat to the Pens.

I wasn't the only one at the Pens game last night. Mike Tomlin was there too with Steelers director of football operations, Kevin Colbert. My boyfriend said that he saw Colbert there last night but didn't say anything to me because I made fun of him at the last Pens' game when he said that he saw Colbert. He must have been right the first time. It seems that the interview with Tomlin went well, at least from the outside looking in. The interview lasted three and 1/2 hours, and Tomlin discussed his defensive strategy (since he is the assistant coach for defense with the Minnesota Vikings. It seems that Tomlin learned his trade from Tony Dungy who has given full credit to Chuck Noll. From all that I have been hearing, I don't think that Russ Grimm is the shoe-in that the sports announcers here in Pittsburgh have been saying.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the New York Islanders in front of yet another sell-out crowd at the Mellon Arena. The Pens started out playing well, but then just collapsed through the end of the first and the whole of the second period. When you have a 5 on 3 powerplay for almost two minutes, and you only get one shot on goal, you suck! You really suck when the other team scores a short-handed goal then! I can truly understand how the Pens are 18th in the powerplay. They really have an issue getting anything going when they have an advantage. The third period was good, and the outlook went from questionable to a win. Erik Christensen had two goals and an assist in the game, earning him the number one star of the game. Sidney Crosby had a goal in the game, and brought on some controversy by getting speared at the very end of the third period. I heard on the radio on the way home that some of the Versus guys were saying that Crosby dramatized it. I think getting a two fisted end of the stick in your stomach isn't something that is dramatizing. Ryan Malone tried to show his worth by getting into a fight. I don't know if that will work. Final score was Pens 5 - Islanders 2. Check out my pictures of the game. I also have video of Malone's fight on my multimedia page.

Monday, January 15, 2007 -- Evening

The Steelers have announced their final three finalists for Bill Cowher's job. They are calling back Russ Grimm, Ron Rivera, and Mike Tomlin. Everyone in town thinks that this means that Russ Grimm will get the job, but I'm not so sure. It does make you wonder why they are taking so long to make the decision. It could be because they are waiting for Ron Rivera to be free. They are going to have to wait for the second interview until the Chicago Bears are down with the post season. Will the Steelers hold the decision until then, and does that mean Rivera might have a shot? Tomlin is to be interviewed tomorrow and Russ Grimm will be interviewed on Wednesday. There was word that the Steelers wanted to interview Mike Sherman, but it appears that isn't going to happen.

There have rumors that the Pens are going to trade Ryan Malone and possibly Brooks Orpik to the New York Rangers for Petr Prucha. There was an interview with Malone on the local sports show, and Malone said that the Pens told him that they weren't looking to trade him. However, Malone admits that he hasn't been performing up to snuff this year. Prucha's stats aren't that astonding to make it worth losing both Malone and Orpik. Or maybe he is since neither Malone or Orpik are actually lighting up the ice. We should know soon if the deal goes through with the Rangers. I suppose that what we have to keep in mind is that you can't expect to get someone who's better than Malone for Malone. It just doesn't work that way. I think that it's probably a good idea to trade Malone if someone wants him because I don't think he is going to get any better than he is now.

Dr. Dean Richardson has said that Barbaro is doing significantly better in the past two days since the surgery on Saturday. What is so hard about the Barbaro situation is that he was doing so well that he was going to get to leave the New Bolton Center. Now, it is back to a day to day situation. As Dr. Richardson said, it is going to be a long road that might eventually still lead to Barbaro's death. it is so hard to tell with laminitis. It would just seem such a shame to come so far to lose in the end.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 -- Afternoon

Ken Whisenhunt is going to be the new head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. He was offered the job today and accepted it. He signed a four year contract with an option for a fifth. It seems that everyone now believes that Russ Grimm will be the head coach of the Steelers. I don't know if that is actually going to be the case. The reason I say that is because I heard that Bill Cowher told the Steelers that it would not be a good idea to hire someone as head coach when that person was an assistant coach of the team. I can see that because the assistant coach has more of a "friend" relationship with the players as opposed to a "parent" relationship that the head coach maintains. It is difficult to have players make the transition from friend to parent, and the team's performance is the first thing that suffers. The Steelers might shock us all and go for one of the other candidates.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 -- Late Morning

The Pens are going to send three players to the NHL Young Stars game. They are: Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Ryan Whitney. I thought Whitney was the oddball choice in the group, but I suppose as a defensive player, he is one of our best. Marc-Andre Fleury won't be in the Young Stars because he isn't in his entry level contract. Unfortunately, even though Fleury was in the top three with votes, he won't be in the All-Star Game. Also in Pens news, Mark Eaton appears to be on target to return to the team after the All-Star break.

It seems that Real Madrid is not going to have David Beckham play for the team. It seems that he will be used in practice only. At least that is what Fabio Capello, the coach for Real Madrid, is saying. It was news to Beckham when he was asked about it, and it makes everyone wonder if Beckham will be coming to the US early. Victoria Beckham arrived in LA yesterday--possibly to check out the area and look for suitable housing for the family. It makes you wonder what the motivation is in not playing Beckham for the rest of the season. Is it sour grapes on the part of the Real Madrid management?

Saturday, January 13, 2007 -- Evening

Barbaro has had more tissue removed from his left hoof and the deep digital flexor tendon in the hoof cut. The flexor tendon could make the matter worse by pulling the hoof away from the coffin bone. The tendon was cut in July but has since healed. The hope is that this will help the situation with the laminitis in the foot. Also, the cast was replaced on the right hind leg since Barbaro was feeling pain in the left leg. That could mean that he would favor it and the uneven weight distribution to the right leg could cause laminitis in that leg. If that were the case, it would be very bad news.

Finally, there is a new episode of Endurance: High Sierras. The last episode was Nov. 11, so it has been two months since we last had a new episode. This one saw two team go to the Temple of Fate, the Yellow team and the Grey team. Unfortunately, the Yellow team learned of the Tmeple strategy of Grey team member, Darci. They used it to their advantage, and won. Read the recap for all the details.

Saturday, January 13, 2007 -- Afternoon

The Steelers are still in the interviewing process, and are talking to Chan Gailey today. Ken Whisenhunt is back for a second interview with the Arizona Cardinals, and there is talk that Whisenhunt might not be a lead candidate with the Steelers. Gailey is the only person so far who has had head coaching experience, and he is a personal favorite of Bill Cowher. The Steerlers may also be interested in Mike Sherman, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Supposedly, the Steelers have been trying to track Sherman down for the past two days. Sherman, meanwhile, has been having a second interview with the Cardinals. Some believe that Russ Grimm is still the lead candidate for the coaching job, but I think that it's going to be difficult to second guess which way the Steeler management will go.

The Pens played the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this afternoon. The game was the Game of the Week on NBC. The game was a home game for Philadelphia, and we know how well they have been doing at home. Josef Melichar did not play today because he is out for three to four weeks because of his knee injury in the last game. The Pens have called up Noah Welch.
The Flyers though were surprising by coming out in the first few minutes of the game, and scoring a goal to take a 1-0 lead. No need to get anxious, however, because the Pens come back a few minutes later with a goal of their own by Sergei Gonchar. Another goal! This time Evgeni Malkin got the gaol. It was a nice goal, and the Pens had been putting alot of pressure on the Flyers leading up to the goal. The Flyers have been killing themselves with penalties, but the Pens really haven't been taking advantage of it. Most of the second period saw some unrealized scoring opportunities until Mark Recchi got one with less than five mintues left in the period. The Pens now lead with a score of 3-1. The announcers (one of whom is Eddie O) are sharing alot of gossip about topics such as the possible firing of Michel Therrien. As Ray Ferroro says, he talked to someone in Pittsburgh, and there is no intention to fire Therrien. I think that Therrien's big problem now is suffering from Craig Patrick hiring decisions. Less than two minutes after Recchi's goal, Peter Forsberg had an assist on a goal by Simon Gagne. Forsberg got Marc-Andre Fleury to concentrate on him and then passed the puck to Gagne on the other side. There were alot of fists flying throughout the game which is typical of a Pens/Flyers game. The Pens get two penalties and had a 4-3 advantage. And the Flyers did indeed take advantage by scoring a goal to tie things up with a Forsberg score. Score is now 3-3. With one second left in the second period, Alexei Zhitnik manhandled Sidney Crosby who threw off his gloves to try to get Zhitnik's stranglehold off his neck. Tensions are high at the end of the period, and it should be an exciting third period. Finally a beautiful play. Malkin steals the puck and charges down the ice, and makes a pass to Jordan Staal who is right in front of the net and scores the goal. The Flyers pulled the goalie with less than a minute left in the game, and that's when Malkin sealed the deal with an empty net goal from mid ice. Pens win a near one with a final score of 5-3.

Friday, January 12, 2007 -- Early Evening

There was an interesting story in the Post-Gazette today. It seems that the Pens could get to stay at the Mellon Arena next year without paying any rent. This deal hasn't been made public before, but SMG, the folks who run the Arena, would forgo the rent. They would also allow the Pens to buy into a deal to get more revenue from items such as parking and concessions for hockey and non-hockey events. It would cost the Pens $5 million for the deal extension, and could net them $20 million. It will be interesting to see how the story turns out.

Speaking of the Pens, Ray Shero is doing some behind the scenes campaigning to get more Pens on the NHL All-Star Game. Shero is thinking of Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal in particular. Even if the two don't make the regular team, they could be on the Young Stars.

Barbaro's condition is not as bad as it was in July. It seems that he really doesn't have any "significant" infection in either hoof, and according to Dr. Dean Richardson, Barbaro has more healthyt tissue in the left hoof than bad. Barbaro is spending several hours in a sling for now, but the condition isn't as dire as it was in the summer.

Thursday, January 11, 2007 -- Afternoon

There have been rumors about David Beckham coming to the US to play for the LA Galaxy. Well, it was officially announced today that he will indeed be coming to the US. Beckham signed a $250 million deal with LA Galaxy for five years. Beckham will complete the current season with Real Madrid. The team has games scheduled through June. It is really a coup for the LA Galaxy to get Beckham. He is going to be a real draw for fans in this country. People who might not otherwise go to a soccer game might go just to get a look at Beckham. I checked out the Galaxy's schedule to see if they will be playing any teams around the Pittsburgh area. Right now, the team is scheduled to be at Columbus, Ohio playing the Crew on July 22 and in DC playing DC United on August 26. Now the question is will Beckham play this summer or wait until next season.

Barbaro is doing okay. He is spending several hours in a sling in intensive care, and is eating well and getting up and down on his own. X-rays of both hind legs look good so Dr. Dean Richardson is considering several options for continued care.

Evgeni Malkinis one of five finalists for the ESPN the Magazine's Next award. The magazine is looking for the "next" athlete who will shape sports over the next few years. It will be interesting to see if Malkin will be picked as the cover boy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers this evening. Because this is the second game in a row, Jocelyn Thibault was in goal. The Panthers looked like they almost made a goal around four minutes into the first period, but the ref waved it up. A little while later though, the Panthers knocked the puck in with Ollie Jokinen getting the credit. Midway through the second period, Jokinen dived and a penalty was called against Brooks Orpik was called for interference. Seconds later, Jokinen made his second goal of the game. Finally! The Pens scored a goal with a shot by Evgeni Malkin who got his 20th goal of the season. Score is now 2-1. Even though there were far too many shots on goal by the Panthers, things were looking up for the Pens until Jokinen got his third goal of the night (a natural hat trick) followed 20 seconds later by another Panther goal. Things were looking glum. But then Colby Armstrong got his second goal in two games. Unfortunately, around two minutes later, the Panthers scored another. The Pens seem to get into streaks where they win a few, then lose a few, then win a few, etc. They need to find a way to become better at breaking the losing cycles though. The Pens lose to the Panthers with a final score of 5-2.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 -- Afternoon

Barbaro has had a setback with his left hoof yesterday. Last week, the vets at the New Bolton Center had placed a small cast on the left hoof, which was affected with laminitis. Yesterday, they noticed that the foot became much more painful for Barbaro. They removed the cast and found that that was an increased amount of separation of the inside of the hoof from the outer hoof wall. They removed some of the damaged tissue and are keeping an eye on Barbaro. He continues to eat well and appears to be stable. Laminitis is tricky, and as the doctors have repeatedly said, it will be a long road before his recovery is assured.

Sidney Crosby became the youngest player voted into the NHL All-Star game since fan voting started in 1986. Jaromir Jagr held that record until Crosby came along. Jagr was voted to the All-Stars in 1992 at 19 years and 11 months. Crosby is 19 years and five months. Crosby also had the most votes of all players with 825,783 votes, which is the second highest since Jagr received 1,020,736 votes in 2000. Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin also were top vote getters in their areas with Malkin being 5th amongst forwards and Fleury third amongst the goalies. The All-Star game will be held in Dallas on Wednesday, January 24 at 8 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens played the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa Bay this evening. Within less than a minute of the start of the game, Sidney Crosby made another beautiful goal while he was down on his knees. He stole the puck from one of the Lightning, and just made a beautiful shot on the net. As the announcers were saying, Crosby plays "knee" hockey with Mario Lemieux's kids all the time. That may explain his great success for shots made from the knees. The Pens took the early lead, but Vincent Lecavalier scored one for the Lightning to tie things up. Scary moment in the last few minutes of the first period. Crosby was in front of Marc-Andre Fleury blocking a shot, and took the shot on his wrist. They showed Crosby on the bench with his glove off. There is a huge red welt on his wrist. The only good thing is that Crosby appeared to be moving his wrist, and did come back into the game. Martin St. Louis helped the Lightning to pull ahead in the middle of the second period with a power play goal. The Lightning have an unbeaten record against the Pens in the last ten games, and that streak was continuing again with another goal in the third period by Andreas Karlsson with an assist by St. Louis. Finally Colby Armstrong earned his paycheck by making a goal in the final two minutes of the game. The score is now 2-3, and the Pens have pulled Fleury and taken a time out with 36 seconds left in the game. Can the Pens tie things up? Nope. They did make an effort, but lose by one point. The Lightning now have an 11 game winning streak gaing against the Pens.

Monday, January 8, 2007 -- Late Afternoon

Some random Pens comments: I found an interesting article in a local paper about hockey superstitions, especially as they apply to the Pens. I had heard the one about Sidney Crosby and his issue about no one touching his sticks before a game. He tapes them up, and doesn't want them touched. I was abit surprised that Marc-Andre Fleury didn't seem to have any really unusual superstitions because we all know that goalies are a weird bunch. As for the Pens rally yesterday, it seems that 400 fans showed up at Mellon Arena. That's not a huge number, but that was probably due to the fact that the game was four and a half hours later. Also, I wonder how many people are like me and totally disillusioned by the whole process. What will happen will happen, and I can only hope that the team remains in the city. I just don't think that anything the fans do will influence the outcome. Since Jordan Staal made it to his 40th game, it seems that he will be staying with the team. The kid can play, and will only get better. The Pens really have a bright future with the players on the current roster--well, some of them at least.

I have been late in finding out about this comic, but I have become a huge fan of FoxTrot by Bill Amend. He just recently decided to take a break from the daily comic grind and is only going to release a Sunday comic. The comics are funny, and I like the nerdy, scientific bend of young, child genius, Jason Fox. He's also one of those troublemakers that I aspired to become as a child. I have been requesting the books from the library to catch up, but I might need to buy a few to support Mr. Amend. After all, what could be better than a person who has a degree in physics, but writes comics for a living?

Sunday, January 7, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of a standing room only crowd of 17, 132. This was the sixth sellout game in a row for the Pens. The game had been sold out for some time because it was a Evgeni Malkin bobblehead night. The game was a very exciting one with a alot of speed. There wasn't a score in the first period, but the LIghtning scored in the second. As the period was ending, with only around five seconds left, Sidney Crosby scored a beautiful goal while flying towards the goal on his stomach. It was great, and the Arena went wild over it. It looked like the Lightning was going to win when they scored again in the third, but Mark Recchi took a pass from Crosby to score his 10th goal of the season and 1300 point of his career. There was a review of the goal for some reaso. I don't know why, because it looked like a goal from the replay. As usual, I couldn't see the goal because the guys in front of me kept on popping out of their seats like prarie dogs. It doesn't help that I'm usually shorter than the guys. The game went into overtime, and Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job of stopping the puck. That meant that the game went into a shoot out. I had a great view of the Lightning shot, but I couldn't see our shots on goal at all because of the crowd in front of me. Needless to say, the Pens suck at the shoot out, and Malkin, Crosby, and Erik Christensen missed. The Lightning weren't faring much better against Fleury, until Martin St. Louis managed to get one past Fleury. The Lightning won yet again with a final score of 3-2. They really do have our number, and we haven't beaten them in the last 10 meetings. Check out my pictures of the game.

Friday, January 5, 2007 -- Evening

The Pens played the Buffalo Sabres this evening. Buffalo has been pretty good over the past two years, and they are in first place in the Eastern Conference with 61 points. I missed the first period because I was at dinner, but it doesn't appear that I missed much action. Buffalo scored a goal, and there was only one penalty to the Pens' Josef Melichar for a delay of game. The players are moving fast, and there is alot of action. Buffalo got a penalty in the second period for too many men on the ice. The Pens spent most of the two minute penalty shooting the puck non-stop back and forth. One of the Sabres lost his stick, and that helped out, but there weren't any shot. Finally, Sidney Crosby got the puck, moved around for a bit, and then passed to Ryan Whitney who scored the goal. The Sabres came right back to score on a power play based on an elbowing call against Ronald Petrovicky. Boy, a beautiful goal follows by Jordan Staal who ties up the game by hovering in front of the net and tossing the puck in easily. Score is tied again. Another power play for the Pens with seconds left in th second period, and Evgeni Malkin scoes a beautiful goal that makes the bottle on the top of the net jump. The third period was another action packed period. With just 2:49 left, the Sabres got a hooking penalty. It was starting to look scary when less than a minute remained, and the Sabres pulled their goalie. But Staal got the puck, and passed to Dominic Moore who got the empty net goal. That showed alot of maturity on the part of Staal who passed the puck for the sure goal. The Pens win with a score of 4-2.

Friday, January 5, 2007 -- Afternoon

Bill Cowher just completed his press conference. He officially announced that he is resigning as coach of the Steelers. The only thing that Cowher really mentioned was that he wanted to spend time with his family in North Carolina. Now the question is who will replace Cowher? Will it be Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm? Or will the Steelers go farther afield and choose someone else?

Thursday, January 4, 2007 -- Evening

Mario Lemieux and the Pens ownership had a busy day today. Earlier this morning, they had some additional meetings with the people out in Kansas City. Then they came back to Pittsburgh for a 90 minute meeting here in Pittsburgh with the Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Chief Executive, Dan Onorato, and PA governor, Ed Rendell. After the meeting, Ravenstahl and Onorato met with the press and said that they didn't want to discuss the details of the meeting in the media. As they said, they want to make a sincere effort to get the Pens to stay in the city and don't want to do negotiating through the media. Lemieux was of the same feelings. Both sides say that they are optimistic about the Pens staying in the city of Pittsburgh, and that the meeting was positive. Lemieux did add though that the team had to investigate all opportunities, including those in other cities. The Kansas City people said that their offer is a $300 million dollar arena with no cost to the Pens. I don't know how things will work out here, but Rendell made a comment that nothing is for free. This might be the only time that I agree with Rendell. You should always worry about things that are free, not only for hidden strings but for quality of the offer. A petition has been started in an effort to keep the Pens here in Pittsburgh. I don't hold out any hope for it working, but who knows. I added my name to the petition because it can only help. Lemieux has said the decision will be made within 30 days.

In other Pens news, Nils Ekman has a dislocated left elbow, and although he will not need surgery, he will be out for the rest of the season. I saw a clip of Ekman injuring his elbow, and it did not look good.

Sports have been the major news in the city, and the Steelers have been getting as much press as the Pens. The question is will he or won't he? The "he" in this case is Bill Cowher, and the question is whether he will retire. People in the know are saying that Cowher will be back in the city on Monday and will make an announcement about the situation. All concerned think that it will be a retirement announcement. Rumor has been that Cowher wants more money, but I'm not sure where that rumor started. Cowher hasn't said anything about money, and Art Rooney II, president and team chairman of the Steelers has said that if they get around to talking about money, they will do all they can to make sure that Cowher is happy. Rooney also says that Cowher is well paid when salary and bonuses are considered. We will have to wait until Monday to know for sure. Hold your horses! Just as I write that, it is announced on television that the Steelers have called a press conference tomorrow, and it will probably be to announce Cowher's retirement. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007 -- Evening

Maybe I am just being pessimistic, but I have been feeling very depressed over the Pens situation. Today, Mario Lemieux and the Pens ownership met with Kansas City officials today. Lemieux and majority owner, Ron Burkle, wanted to check out the Sprint Center which is supposed to be available for the 2007/2008 NHL season. It's not looking good because of the closeness of all involved. Lemieux is friendly with William "Boots" Del Biaggio III who has a deal to put a hockey team into the Sprint Center in Kansas City, and Philip Anschutz who has a hand in the Sprint Center is buddy/buddy with Ron Burkle. It is definitely sounding like the Pens will be moving. One of the speculations is that the Pens will move to LA because Sidney Crosby will be a big fan draw in the city. Then the LA Kings (owned by Philip Anschutz) will move to Kansas City. What is really sad is that no one cares about the hockey fans in PIttsburgh. The government officials don't care, and the Pens ownership doesn't care. No one cares, and I think that the decision was already made to move to Kansas City as soon as Isle of Capri lost the slots license bid. There is going to be a rally at 3 pm on Sunday at Mellon Arena before the Pens game for fans to show their support of keeping the Pens in the city, but it is pointless in my opinion. It should just be a gathering of fans to commiserate over the fact that we have lost a hockey francise in this city because of lack of interest in the city, county, and state government officials in providing an entertainment facility that would house the Pens and all the other entertainment events that are hosted at Mellon Arena. After all, when the Pens leave the city, we will still need a new facility to house events--and will lose the biggest lease holder--the Pens. Boy, am I depressed! Lemieux and the Pens ownership are meeting with local PIttsburgh officials tomorrow. It will just be too little, too late. :-(

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 -- Late Evening

The Pens played the Carolina Hurricanes this evening to a crowd that owed its sellout to student rush. There was a huge line of students wrapped around the building to purchase the $20 tickets for the best available seat. Everyone had a real treat. The game was billed as Jordan Staal vs. Eric Staal, but the real star of the night was Sidney Crosby who had two goals and an assist in the Pens 3-0 win. Marc-Andre Fleury got a shutout with another outstanding performance. The Pens as a whole played well in this game, and it was a fast paced joy to watch. I managed to get some pictures although it was difficult because I had a line of eager jumpers in the row in front of me. Every time someone got close to the net, up would jump the crowd. It was hard not to get excited with the level of the Pens' game tonight. It makes you excited about the second half of the season.

Monday, January 1, 2007 -- Evening

Happy New Year to everyone! This should be an interesting year in Pittsburgh sports because we will find out if the Penguins are going to stay in the city and if Bill Cowher will stay with the Steelers. I always look forward to the New Year because there are so many possibilities. Yes, there will be sadness, but the thing that excites me is the endless possibilities. At least, it seems to me that there are endless possibilities.

As for the Steelers, it does seem as if Bill Cowher will be leaving as head coach. At least, that is what the players seem to thinking. There's no word yet on when we will know for sure, but I think that we might hear sooner rather than later. There are already two openings with the Atlanta Falcons firing Jim Mora and the Arizona Cardinals fired Dennis Green. It is thought that Ken Whisenhunt would be high on the list for replacement with the Falcons. There was a retirement announced today with the Steelers, and that was Dick Hoak who retired after spending 45 years with the Steelers. Hoak was a running back with the Steelers from 1961 to 1970, and then was hired by Chuck Noll to be the running back coadh in 1971. Hoak remained in that position until this past season.