On the Penguins: The Lebron Precedent

No need to worry today, tomorrow, next year or the year after that, but ...

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It was one of the sports world's major stories this summer, one that generated headlines across the country for days and grabbed the attention of millions.

Not only in this country, apparently, but also in Canada. Including one guy who spent the offseason in his home province of Nova Scotia.

Yes indeed, Sidney Crosby said, he had been well aware of the LeBron James-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade saga as it unfolded, culminating in James' prime-time announcement on ESPN that he would, as he put it, be taking his talents to South Beach, joining the other two free agents on the Miami Heat's payroll.

"How could I not?" Crosby said. "It was being talked about a lot."

That Crosby was up on what was happening with some prominent players from another high-profile league probably isn't a surprise. And isn't necessarily unexpected that he would understand the rationale behind what those three did.

"They're all friends," he said. "Obviously, they all agreed that's the place they wanted to be.

"It's easy for people who don't like Miami to not like that, but I'm sure people in Miami are happy."

What might not have been anticipated is that Crosby said he wouldn't rule out something similar happening with NHL players, if the circumstances were such that they become unrestricted free agents at the same time and were interested in joining a franchise that had the salary-cap space needed to accommodate three big-ticket players.

"You'd have to have a perfect scenario where you get guys who really weren't happy where they were, for some reason and had an organization that could fit three guys [under the cap]," Crosby said.

"It's kind of like a perfect storm kind of thing. Who thought it would happen [with James and Co.], so you never know. You can never say never."

It's hard to imagine Crosby ever changing employers -- be it alone or as part of a group -- but just knowing that he could see something like that happening in the NHL might be enough to give Penguins executives a few sleepless nights when his contracts are winding down in the years ahead.

A good look in more ways than one

Just about everyone who has been in the Consol Energy Center has a favorite feature there, whether it's the wider concourses, the spectacular TV screen on the scoreboard or the state-of-the-art sound system.

Or. In the case of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the on-ice lighting.

Fleury looked particularly sharp from the earliest days of training camp, and suggested that the lighting in the new building played a part in that.

"It's very bright," he said. "The ice is really white. You can see pretty good. I like it."

Conversely, he said, "the crowd is really dark" and goaltenders can lose sight of the puck when it rises above the top of the boards.

Fleury seems content to accept the trade-off, however.

"I can't complain so far," he said. "It's been pretty good. So far, I like it. I like it a lot."

Everybody's getting a makeover

The Penguins' American Hockey League minor-league team still is based in Wilkes-Barre, but it has a new home.

Or, at least, a home with a new name.

The Baby Penguins' building, which had been called Wachovia Arena, is now known as Mohegan Sun Arena.

The venue in Philadelphia where the Penguins will play this coming Saturday has been renamed -- again---- as well.

After being called the Wachovia Center for several seasons, it is now the Wells Fargo Center.

Good thing for the people who run that facility that there isn't a cap on how much can be spent on arena signage, because it also has carried the names of CoreStates and First Union since the Flyers moved in.

All of the changes in Philadelphia have been brought about by mergers and acquisitions in the banking and financial-services industries.

The arena in Wilkes-Barre, by the way, was known as the Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and First Union Arena before a merger led to it becoming Wachovia Arena in 2002.

Quote of the Week

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek on what he knew about Philadelphia rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky before Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the Flyers' 3-2 victory at the CEC last Thursday:

"To be honest, I'd never even heard his name."

For more hockey, read Penguins Plus: Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson . Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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