Q: I've been watching a lot of old Penguins games, courtesy of the NHL Network. I noticed that when Mario Lemieux was out with a broken wrist in the 1992 playoffs, Bryan Trottier wore the captain's "C." Is that something that is no longer done, was it a one-time deal and if it is still done by other teams, why haven't the Pens give the "C" to someone else while Sidney Crosby is out?
MOLINARI: Teams have the right to designate a replacement captain when the usual one is out of the lineup, for whatever reason -- in Crosby's case, a high ankle sprain -- but there really is no practical benefit to doing so.
Rule 6.1 says, in part, that the captain "alone shall have the privilege of discussing with the referee any questions relating to interpretation of rules which may arise during the progress of a game," but Rule 6.2 notes that when the captain isn't on the ice, his team's alternate captains are "accorded the privileges" usually enjoyed by the captain.
Q: Why would the Penguins waste millions of dollars hiring a contractor to tear down St. Francis Hospital when they just as easily could've contracted Gary Roberts to do it? He would've finished by now.
Sean White, Shadyside
MOLINARI: Roberts has, in fact, spent the past month-plus recovering from a broken leg, not battling Chuck Norris to determine which is the dominant force in the universe. But if Roberts' devotees are correct and he actually is Superman, do you think Buffalo forward Tim Connolly -- the guy who fractured Roberts' left fibula by falling on it -- is now known to his teammates as "Kryptonite?"
Q: I heard once that Ron Stackhouse, in his pre-NHL days, was the substitute for a goalie on a penalty shot. Could an NHL team send out a skilled defenseman to confront a shooter on a penalty shot? Would it be just stupid, or both stupid and illegal?
Barry Davis, Felton, Pa.
MOLINARI: The NHL rulebook devotes more than three pages to Rule 25, which covers penalty shots, and tucked neatly in the middle of all the information about how the shot is to be conducted -- including confirmation that "lacrosse-style" and "spin-o-rama" moves are allowed -- is this nugget: "Only a player designated as a goalkeeper or alternate goalkeeper may defend against the penalty shot." That makes it pretty clear that whoever is defending against the penalty shot has to at least be wearing goaltender's equipment, which would negate any edge a fast-skating defenseman might have in challenging the shooter.
Also, because the goalkeeper must remain in the crease until the shooter gets the puck at center ice and begins moving toward the net, a defenseman filling in for the goalie would be highly unlikely to get close enough to the shooter to affect his shot before the puck is released. What's more, if the pseudo-goalie would try to skate directly at the shooter to reduce the amount of net visible to him, the ehooter could simply move toward one side or the other and be shooting at a basically empty net. It would be not unlike the situation often seen near the end of a game, when the goaltender has been replaced by an extra attacker and his team's defensemen are unable to prevent an opponent from scoring into the empty net.