• Q: I was glad to see that the Penguins will be wearing blue sweaters for the outdoor game. Do you think that this could be a springboard for the team introducing a regularly used third jersey in blue sometime in the next season or two? I would think that it would be great marketing if the team rolled out a "heritage" sweater from the team's past every few years.
Stephen Hrebenach, Wilmington, Ohio
MOLINARI: Interesting idea, except that the Penguins have only been around for four decades, and don't have a long list of "heritage" uniform designs. If they brought one back "every few years," as you suggest, the supply would be exhausted in a relatively short period of time.
The point is moot, though, because the Penguins have no plans to bring out a third jersey -- definitely not until they've moved into the city's new arena, if then -- and that's not the kind of decision they can reverse on short notice. There is a new policy that compels teams to petition the league office two years in advance for permission to introduce a new sweater.
The NHL has the final say on all such matters, and it was the league, not the participating teams, that decided the Penguins and Sabres will wear "retro" uniforms for their game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo Jan. 1.
• Q: Give me your opinion on this. Dave Semenko was before my time. Would Georges Laraque have whipped him or would he be beaten to a pulp? Laraque is the most devastating fighter I have seen.
Steve Evanchuck, Poland, Ohio
MOLINARI: Well, it depends on when they fought. If it happened in, say, 1984-85, when Semenko was in his prime, you'd have to like him, since Laraque would only have been eight (and probably didn't go much more than 5-11, 215 pounds then). If they squared off today, though, Laraque would be the obvious pick against Semenko. Or any other 50-year-old, for that matter.
In all seriousness, the moderator of this forum isn't a connoisseur of hockey fights, and isn't qualified to offer a technical breakdown of each man's style, strengths and soft spots (not that that are many). But while both were among the most feared (and, of course, fearless) fighters in their respective eras, one has to suspect that Laraque's physical superiority -- he is 6 foot 3, 243 pounds, while Semenko was more like 6-3, 215 -- would have tipped things in his favor.
Of course, Laraque would be in trouble if the tiebreaker in their bout turned out to be nicknames, because Dave (Cementhead) Semenko certainly had one of hockey's better ones during the past quarter-century or so.