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Q: Why do the Penguins allow their star players to play for other teams, after the season is over or during the middle of the season? What happens if there is a career-ending injury?
Chris Sylvester, Dupont Pa.
MOLINARI: Your question presumably was inspired by Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar joining Team Russia for the world championships now underway in Germany, and there's no question that both players likely would have benefited from getting some rest after the Penguins' playoff run ended rather than traveling to Europe to compete in a tournament.
However, the Penguins had no power to prevent them from playing, per Article 24.6 of the league's collective bargaining agreement with its Players' Association. As far as the risks to the Penguins, either the International Ice Hockey Federation, which runs the world championships, or the player's national federation is required to purchase insurance to cover the remaining value of a player's NHL contract, as well as whatever loss of earning power the player might experience if he is injured competing in the worlds.
(As an aside, for purposes of his NHL contract, a player who is injured during a game at the world tournament is treated the same as one who is injured during an NHL game.)
Q: What's the status of Jarome Iginla? Imagine the possibilities with him and Sidney Crosby. When Iginla was asked what would happen if the Flames wanted to move him, he said this: "If they don't want me here and they want to move in a direction or rebuild or believed they could do better, I would look at it. Absolutely."
Patti Jorash, Holliston, Mass.
MOLINARI: Iginla, who will be 33 next season, is coming off a 32-goal, 37-assist season in Calgary, and has three seasons left on a contract that carries a salary-cap hit of $7 million.
His game is a superb blend of physicality and finesse, his intangibles are exceptional and playing alongside players whose skill level matches, or exceeds, his own tends to bring out the best in him. Suffice to say, if the Flames decide to entertain trade offers for him -- and that would be an epic move by that organization, because he's been the cornerstone of the franchise for years -- Iginla is not the kind of guy you're going to pick up for a half-baked prospect and a conditional sixth-round draft choice.
Whether the Penguins would be willing (or even able) to pay what surely would be a staggering asking price is hard to say, and whether they'd be able to fit his contract under the salary-cap ceiling without making profound changes to their own roster is questionable, at best.
There seems to be little reason to fear that Iginla is closing in on the end of his career and there probably isn't a team in the league that wouldn't like to have him, but for the reasons mentioned above, it's pretty tough to concoct a realistic scenario under which he would end up with the Penguins.