If Tomas Vokoun loses any playoff game, should Dan Bylsma go back to Marc-Andre Fleury?
Chunkles: Jerry, recently reading about Joe Greene retiring, the 70's Steelers are falling off. Has the PG tried to get an interview with the Emperor? I know Chuck has been ill but wouldn't it be nice to hear from him and the stories he could tell. A book from him would be off the charts!
Jerry Micco: I know we have tried to get an interview with Noll, but have not been successful. I think his illness may prevent any type of lengthy interview, but I don't know much more beyond that.
Ralph_LA: Any thoughts on the shortstop situation and Mercer being sent down?
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates are going to use Barmes through this season and then try to figure out what to do with Mercer. I don't think Mercer is a shortstop and they'd be forcing him in there. Last season they tried it a bit and he just didn't fit there. As a matter of fact, when Chase d'Arnaud gets healthy, he'll be the shortstop at Indianapolis. I think they'll figure out what to do with Mercer. Or trade him, one of the two.
DormontDirtBag: Jerry, I seem to recall at the time of the trade that Ray Shero would not agree to the Hosaa deal unless, and only unless, Pascual Dupuis was included. Is my memory accurate?
Jerry Micco: I'm not 100 percent sure on that, but I do recall him wanting Dupuis as part of the deal. Now whether that was a deal killer, I really don't know.
Guest: Jerry, at what point does Blysma give Flower another shot?
Jerry Micco: Probably after a Vokoun loss or a game they win but Vokoun is very shaky. But so far, you cannot say Vokoun hasn't performed anything but in championship mode. Hard to replace a guy who's playing that well, but I'm sure he knows that if he stumbles, Fleury will be back between the pipes.
Guest: Jerry, do you remember who the penguins traded for hossa and dupuis? Seems to me that this has to be one of the best trades ever! Would you agree?
Jerry Micco: Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, big-time prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Thrashers. And yes, there is no question the Penguins made out in that deal.
The Chief: Jerry, hope you had a good week. As for your question, I believe that this is Tomas Vokoun Stanley Cup to win or lose. We have three years of facts on how Flower plays in the playoffs. I think that is enough data to answer your question!
Jerry Micco: But I also think that they've seen Fleury win a Cup, and a Game 7 on the road to win it, and are heavily invested in him enough that they'd like to see him do this. I'm not knocking Vokoun, but the Penguins always saw him as a back-up and an alternative to Fleury. And everyone knows Fleury can have bad games, which he did against the Islanders, but the Penguins played poorly in front of him in a couple of those games, too. But you may be right. The Pens may have staked their chances totally on Vokoun.
Andrew: Although I was at the Pens game last night, it was refreshing to see the Pirates pulled out a victory in dramatic fashion against the Brewers. It was also nice to see that the entire Brewer lineup didn't steal at least 1 base in the game like they pretty much did Monday night. Was having 3 lefty pitchers start back-to-back-to-back part of Hurdle's strategy for the baserunning issues that occurred all throughout last season do you think?
Jerry Micco: Russell Martin behind the plate is a completely different ballgame for the Pirates. He's got a great arm and when he gets help from the pitchers to hold guys on, he can throw out his share of guys. McKenry is a nice backup, but defensively he has a ways to go.
yinzer in va: Jerry, So where do see Mercer playing? Second and third are taken, so could he fit at first?
Jerry Micco: I don't think so. I'd say Walker or Alvarez would move to first in a couple of years to accommodate him. My guess is that eventually, Walker will move to first if the Pirates decide to sign him long term. I say if because they don't seem inclined to do that right away.
yinzer in va: Mercer definitely deserves a longer look. Do you think he gets another, and longer, look in September.
Jerry Micco: Depends on where the Pirates are in the standings in September. He could help them down the stretch, but I don't see him starting in a pennant race. He's actually better off playing every day in AAA than once a week in the bigs.
Chunkles: Congrats to Vokoun, I like him BUT these fans who bash Marc Andre forget how well he played to get them in the play-offs. I know he needs to step up in the play-offs but give the kid a break! People were calling the FAN today bad mouthing him and he didnt even play last night! He doesnt deserve all the negative BS. I will say this, the Pens seem like a good group of guys but the Flower, he ALWAYS makes time for the fans whether he is handing out pizza or signing autographs. Hang in there Marc, we will need you!
Jerry Micco: I think many fans do feel that way, and I think down deep, the Penguins organization does, too. I still think that at some point, they'll come back to him during the playoffs. And it'll be up to Fleury to then make his case that he's the guy. Because if he fails, he may lose his job again.
Guest: Have the Steelers started their OTA's or Rookie camp? If so, how does Jones & rest of the rookies look?
Jerry Micco: They've already had rookie camp. They start OTAs next week. Hard to tell much from rookie camp. Just pretty much getting the plays and running a few things. They really like Landry Jones, so I think he'll get his shot to make the club as the No. 3 QB. Actually, he should be a lock for that.
The Chief: Your opinion if the Bruins should have been assessed a minor delay of game penalty after their fans tossed all the debris on ice, essentially giving the Bruins a timeout that they did not have.
Jerry Micco: I don't think the NHL referees were going to do that in the height of a playoff game. They just wouldn't do it. Not saying they shouldn't, but that's a rare call.
Guest: I say AJ Burnett gets dealt to a contender at the deadline if the Bucs are out of it. Think he asks for a trade? One last shot at a World Series
Jerry Micco: I'd say if the Pirates are out of it by the trade deadline at the end of July, then I'd see him getting dealt, along with Wandy Rodriguez. But I don't think the Pirates will fall out of the pennant race that soon. I think they're good enough to hang in there, maybe to the end.
yinzer in va: Jerry, if Pens win game 2, it's over in 5 games. If not, it's more like the Islanders series.
Jerry Micco: I think the Pens can win this in 5. Senators a completely different team than the Islanders. The Senators can't match the Islanders speed and talent on the offensive end. Ottawa is much stronger in goal and overall on defense. But the Pens like this matchup much better.
Greg: The penguins have some tough decisions to make this off-season. I know it's very early, but do you have any predictions as to current penguins who may be wearing a different sweater come fall?
Jerry Micco: Not really. I know Dupuis is up, and Dave Molinari will discuss that in his story for tomorrow's PG. Other than that, I don't have that info at my fingertips.
Phil: Tabata's recent play and the tatoo on the neck are tremendous. Can we give the guy a second chance? He's earning at least that.
Jerry Micco: I think he's going to platoon more with Snider in right, and you may see him out there when Hurdle decides to give Marte or McCutchen a day off. I like the Pirates doing the platoon thing. Jones/Sanchez and Snider/Tabata give them a nice situation. And if Jones is hot, you can put him in RF and Sanchez at first. I like the movable parts.
The Chief: Jerry, your thoughts on the family of Derek Boogaard law suit against the NHL.
Jerry Micco: It won't be the only one we see filed. Other than that, they are within their rights to do this. Be interesting to see what the courts say.
Guest: Jerry, is Tiger back? He commanded a course that he typically struggles at. Still a chance to get 2 majors this year?
Jerry Micco: As I said before, I thought he'd get one this year, and possibly 2. I'm not sure he can win the US Open, but he's usually been lights out at the British and PGA. I can certainly see him winning one of those.
Guest: When is the voting for the Hart Trophy done, before the playoffs?
Jerry Micco: The votes for the Hart are done at the end of the regular season.
DormontDirtBag: Jerry, Had you heard any estimates as to when Crosby might be able to get rid of the face shield?
Jerry Micco: None. I think he's going to wear it for most, if not all, of the playoffs. His jaw was pretty well shattered and it's going to take a long time to heal. I don't think he or the Penguins want to take any chances.
praveen: I feel Iginla has helped add a different dimension to the offense, 4especially the PP, - KISS - Keep it simple stupid. Either with his chip passes or with a nice goal. If Bylsma can mine this for all its worth, that can more than offset his not so strong play in regular 5 on 5 shifts. I was surprised to see him lose a lot of battles on the boards in the Ottawa game.
Jerry Micco: I wasn't. Iginla has lost a bit of his speed and strength that he had in his prime. I think his best work is on the power play, and that's something that the Penguins can certainly use. And he's not hurting the team out there 5 on 5, but he's not going to be a dominant player, as he once was, at even strength.
John: Tomas Vokoun looked a little shaky last nite - a lot like Fleury did in game 2 against the Isles. The only difference was the defense cleared the pucks away from in front of the net for Vokoun. I think more blame should be put on the D and not on the goalie.
Jerry Micco: I thought Vokoun didn't play well in the first period last night. After that, he was very solid. Yes, you can't put the entire blame on the goaltender, but Fleury did let in some very soft goals and looked shaky for entire games. That doesn't mean he shouldn't get another shot to play at some point.
Guest: Are playoff hockey ticket prices a little too high? Come on $240 (face value) to sit in the lower bowl, in the corner where the pens only shoot once??? I can justify paying these prices for an NFL playoff game because we aren't talking best of 7, it's one game, winner take all.
Jerry Micco: There are better deals up high, but hockey doesn't get the TV revenue many other sports do, so that's passed on in ticket prices. And the Penguins have no problem selling tickets at just about any price as evidenced by their long sell out streak.
praveen: I can't think of an equivalent of how Toronto choked. Forget the 3 goals in 10 min given up. For me, it's the 2 goals with an empty net inthe space of 30 seconds. Carlyle should have had his best blockers and have people go down on the ice blocking those big shots if needed. Pirates choking the 9th inning to the Braves comes close. Maybe if Bettis fumble was returned for a TD in the INdy game could have been similar in terms of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Jerry Micco: Hockey is an odd game sometimes. A bounce here, a deflection there, and it's a new game. Like you, I can't recall off the top of my head such a collapse, but I'm sure they exist. Also like you, I can't believe Toronto didn't just sell out to block everything and dump the puck. Not to take away from the Bruins, who are a very good team, but there's no way they should have scored those final 2 goals.
Phil: If a large segment of people are offeded, then that's not good, but Redskins is a historical name like Bears, Steelers and Eagles. You can't change an iconic name like McDonalds to Buger Barn, right?
Jerry Micco: I'm back and forth on this. Redskins is an offensive name, no question. You won't find many Native Americans who think that's a cool thing to be called. And I get the tradition of it. But I'd also think that if they really wanted to do so, they could change their name and still sell out most of their games. Great fan base in DC.
Andrew: Jerry, do you or any of the other reporters for the PPG cover the Pittsburgh Power? I've never seen a game, nor do I really have the urge to go to one, but I'm just curious to see if anyone knows how the arena league football team experiment is doing after a few seasons? Making money/losing money?
Jerry Micco: Craig Meyer handles the Power for us the majority of the time. We basically write advances and cover games, but he's also working on a couple of feature stories. I'm not sure the attendance is as high as it was in their first season, and there seems little buzz about the team. Doesn't mean it won't be around next year, but that's my take on it.
praveen: I like Fleury. I just never thought he was an elite player because of his mindset(choked even in the juniors tournament). He did have those cup years to hold onto. In any case, I still think Bylsma should rotate the two goalies with Vokoun getting more starts until the finals. Then you play your best playing goalie in every game of the finals in case they make it that far.
Jerry Micco: Many in the media think that the goalie situation is a distraction for the Penguins. I'd think if they did what you suggest, there'd be a bigger distraction. I think at some point, they'll come back to Fleury. Doesn't mean they'll do that forever no matter what, but I think that's what eventually will happen.
The Chief: Another week in golf, another Tiger issue. Obviously he has brought this scrutiny on himself. What happens next?
Jerry Micco: The networks hope there's more to it. Their ratings are through the roof when he plays and especially when he's in contention.
Guest: Why is there no NBA team in Pittsburgh? it's a great sports town. Could basketball work in Pgh?
Jerry Micco: It's also a smallish market with a very successful football and hockey franchises. And if the Pirates can break the streak and contend, that's three pretty healthy pro franchises. I think if the NBA came here people would go. It's a great league populated by many stars. But I'm not sure it could survive the long haul because there is little history here.
The Chief: You agree with John Clayton that the Steelers are out of the Salary cap mess by 2014?
Jerry Micco: I think they'll get their house in order by then, yes. Working on it this year, but are really up against it.
Ken: Jerry, Game 7, '71 series is on youtube. Most underrated major play in Pittsburgh sports history? Pagan's clutch double in the 8th scoring Stargell from first, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Jerry Micco: Kind of forgotten like Hal Smith's 3-run shot to give the Bucs a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the 8th of Game 7, 1960 Series.
The Chief: Over under on Chris Neil's 10 minute misconducts in the Pens/Sens series.
Jerry Micco: Let's say 1.5. I think he'll get one if they are down 3-0 or know they are going down 3-0. He's going to want to fight multiple people at that point.
Guest: Who ya got in The Preakness Saturday?
Jerry Micco: Apparently Orb looked great in is last workout at Belmont before heading to Pimlico. If he's going to run like that, I like him to win round 2 of the Triple Crown.
praveen: I like this shortened regular season for hockey. it's too bad that the league will never go for it. Forget playoff hockey prices, i find season ticket prices for good seats in hockey to be ridiculous, especially in the casual hockey markets.
Jerry Micco: As I said, they rely on ticket sales more than the other pro leagues to generate revenue. But the shortened season was fun. The league, as you point out, wants those 82 games, however. Gotta drive that revenue to pay the stars. Really, just like any other pro sport.
Guest: Ovechkin's comment about referee's calls the other night valid, NHL wants 7 game series to generate revenue lost in lockout?
Jerry Micco: I don't believe in conspiracy theories, especially from guys who should lead their team in big games, but get 1 shot on goal and generally disappear in a 5-0 loss.
Guest: If the Pens didn't give college/high school students the unsold $240+ tickets for $20 would the sell out streak be intact?
Jerry Micco: I'm not sure how that works, but the fact is they are selling the place out. I can remember when I first came here in March 2004 that wasn't happening. Sid Crosby, Geno Malkin and a beautiful new building changed a lot of things. And winning certainly does help.
The Chief: How good would the Pirates be right now if they had Wieters instead of Moskos and Machado instead of Talion?
Jerry Micco: I won't sell Jameson Taillon down the river just yet. A lot of potential there and he's a No. 2 guy in any rotation with Gerrit Cole. Can't have enough good pitching. As for Weiters, well, that's an open wound for the Pirates.
DormontDirtBag: Jerry, Pittsburghers who call Leafs chokers should control their glee. I lived through the Isles comeback against the Pens after being down 3-0 back in the '70s. That nearly ruined my childhood. Were you around for that, or was that before your time?
Jerry Micco: I was a student at Penn State during that time, and I remember how everyone felt sick after blowing that lead. But I don't hear a lot of Pittsburghers saying the Leafs choked. But a lot of Toronto fans and media are saying that.
praveen: Jerry, I have been boosting Dupuis' value in this chat for a couple of years now(and you seemed to have the same opinion too). He deserves the raise he will get (hopefully with the PEns or with someone else). I knew he didn't need Crosby to show his value to the team even if Crosby does help him become more prolific. Leading the league in goals inthe playoffs, wow, even I didn't expect that a couple of years ago.
Jerry Micco: Dupuis has had either Crosby or Malkin as his center most of the time and has taken advantage of that. But there are other reasons he's valuable. Still has good speed; a very good slap shot and an excellent PK. All those and he's good for 20-25 goals a year? Not a bad package as a player, I'd say.
praveen: Shouldn't the NHL encourage NBC Sports Network(formerly Versus) to at least let the local teams free channels to simulcast for a free the playoff games? They do it in the NFL for ESPN's MNF. It's not like NBC pays the NHL a huge amount of money to deserve such super exclusivity.
Jerry Micco: But NBC is taking a chance that hockey will drive eyeballs and advertisers. If they allow simulcasting on a sport that has a limited audience, they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Will: Chuck Muncie's death reminds me of the greatest offense I ever saw, at least in the era before passing is as refined as it is now--the early 80's Chargers. Fouts, James Brooks, Muncie, Kellen Winslow, Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner. They beat the really good '82 Steelers here in the playoffs in a shootout. Fun to watch.
Jerry Micco: Air Coryell. One of the great offensive machines of all time.
praveen: Not happy at all with this offseason from the Steelers. Maybe if they went all out and renegotiated all the aging veterans salaries(such as Troy) ala Harrson, they could have at least made some definitive accelerated fix of the cap situation. What gives me hope? Ravens were flawed team and they still won the SB. So maybe a not so elite Steelers team can do the same where everything falls in place. Wish for some luck.
Jerry Micco: They'll need it. I'm thinking at best, this could be a 9-7 team. Going to be a tough season for them, but not necessarily a terrible season. Going to take them a year to get some things, like the cap, in order. Also for younger guys to step up. Or not, which would really set the process back.
Guest: What is El Toro's value - either in terms of a long-term contract or as a trade piece?
Jerry Micco: I think the Pirates value his bat too much to trade him. But he's also got to prove he can put up the numbers to justify the salary. Jury is still out on that as far as consistency goes.
praveen: Is there anyway we could get more Pens features during the playoffs? Get some young energy to complement the regular stuff. Seth has some good stuff to add to the regular stuff, but it is not user friendly to browse through several of the blog items because of the lack of a collapsible feature. Pirates aren't going to win anything and they seem to have more detailed coverage.
Jerry Micco: Well, we have 7 people at Pens home playoff games and age has nothing to do with energy. We generally ramp up Pens coverage on all our platforms during the playoffs. As for the blog, we're likely going to a new system in a short time, so that problem may resolve itself. But we're doing more, and rightfully so, on the Pens during this run.
Guest: Thoughts on evaluating Huntington - the MLB team is competitive and the Minors have a number of good prospects - would be hard to get rid of him, no?
Jerry Micco: I think we have to see how this season plays out. Do they collapse late again? Or do they play well enough to at least break the streak and even contend? Jury's still out, though I think Huntington doesn't get enough credit for the good trades he pulls off. Has his share of bad ones, too, but a lot of GMs fit that category.
Guest: Big Ben - Future HOFer?!
Jerry Micco: Yes, I believe so.
Jerry Micco: OK folks, I need to get to some other stuff. Excellent chat today loaded with great questions. Thanks for taking time out of your day to join me. Still my favorite work hour of the week. I'll be back next Wednesday at noon for more, and I hope you can join me. Until then, have a terrific week everybody! Follow me on Twitter: @PG_JerryMicco
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