Note: You can follow the Penguins on the Penguins Plus blog at PG-Plus. Membership in that site is only $3.99 per month or $36 per year.
Because of the strong response to Bill Ratay's Mellon Arena memories printed in the Q&A recently, similar submissions from other readers interested in sharing their recollections will be posted in the Penguins area of PG-Plus. Those pieces can be sent via the Q&A submission form or to DMolinari@Post-Gazette.com
Q: Why in the world is Chris Bourque in the Pens' lineup when you have two thoroughbreds in Eric Tangradi and Luca Caputi in Wilkes-Barre? He doesn't have one-tenth the talent that his dad had.
Brian Pietro, Weirton, W. Va.
MOLINARI: Bourque has done absolutely nothing during his time with the Penguins to suggest that he can be a significant contributor, let alone an impact player, at this level. However, the fact that his talents don't begin to approach those of his father, Hall of Fame defenseman Raymond Bourque, has nothing to do with anything. Judging Chris Bourque's work by the standards set by his father is neither fair nor meaningful. After all, it's not as if the Penguins had to choose between the two.
As for Tangradi and Caputi, both have a chance to fill prominent roles for the Penguins in coming seasons. That doesn't mean they're ready to step in and contribute at this level now, however. Caputi is in his second season of pro hockey and Tangradi is in his first. It would be downright irresponsible for the Penguins to retard their long-term development by putting them in the NHL before they are ready.
The bottom line is that the fact that Bourque is in the NHL while those two guys still are in the American Hockey League shouldn't be interpreted as a statement on what management feels about their respective potential.
Q: During his fight in the third period against the Pens the other night, the Thrashers' Ilya Kovalchuk's penalties included one for instigating the fight while wearing a visor. If he would have taken off his helmet before starting the fight, would he still have received that penalty?
Brad Krenicky, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Q: Who is playing for Wilkes-Barre? What do American Hockey League teams do when they go through injury bugs like the Pens have? Are their call-ups like the NHL? With all the recent injuries and players from the Wilkes-Barre called up, how do they maintain their farm system?
MOLINARI: The Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre does the same thing the parent club does when it loses players -- it promotes them from the club directly below it on the organizational depth chart. In this case, that's the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.
The bas news for the Nailers is, they occupy the bottom rung on the corporate food chain, so they're the ones who really have to scramble to find capable bodies when the ripple effect of multiple player call-ups moves through the organization.