Penguins notebook: Martin (broken leg) joins long list of injured players

PENGUINS NOTEBOOK


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The Penguins are at the point where the players they have on injured reserve might make a decent six to send onto the ice if they were healthy.

There's a goaltender, Tomas Vokoun (blood clot treatment).

There are three forwards, Chuck Kobasew (left foot/ankle), Beau Bennett (broken hand/wrist) and Tanner Glass (broken right hand).

And there are two defensemen, Rob Scuderi (broken left foot) and Paul Martin (broken leg).

Martin and Glass are the latest additions to the list. Coach Dan Bylsma revealed Wednesday that Martin has a broken tibia, the larger of the two lower leg bones.

Martin isn't expected to need surgery but will be out four to six weeks. He is a strong candidate for the United States Olympic team and is expected to return before the Sochi Games in February -- but not necessarily before Team USA finalizes its roster.

He is averaging a team-high 25 minutes, 16 seconds of ice time a game and plays in all situations.

Lately, Martin had supplanted Kris Letang on the top power-play unit when the Penguins use one defenseman. Letang was back in that spot -- and in Martin's usual spot in a defensive pairing with Brooks Orpik -- Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Consol Energy Center.

Martin got hurt while blocking a shot in the third period of a 4-3 overtime loss Monday night at Boston. He played at least a little after that, despite the break.

The Penguins also lost winger Matt D'Agostini, who was placed on waivers Tuesday and claimed by Buffalo. D'Agostini, signed by the Penguins during the summer, began the season on long-term injured reserve and was in and out of the lineup once he was healthy. He had one assist in eight games.

With so many injuries and the loss of D'Agostini, the Penguins recalled forwards Jayson Megna and Chris Conner and defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. They join forward Andrew Ebbett and Zach Sill, who were recalled over the past few days. Despres, Megna, Conner and Ebbett played against Toronto.

Despres' hard work pays off

Despres played in 33 games for the Penguins last season and in 51 NHL games in all, but, in something of a surprise, he was sent to Wilkes-Barre during training camp.

"For sure, it was a little disappointing, but go back down and work harder and come back stronger -- that was my mindset," said Despres, 22, a 2009 first-round draft pick.

In 17 games for Wilkes-Barre, he had three goals, 11 points and was tied for the team lead in plus-minus ratio at plus-13.

The emphasis, he said, was on defense.

"I was on the first [penalty-killing] unit and playing against other teams' top lines," said Despres, who usually was paired with Philip Samuelsson. "I was working on being good defensively and playing a lot of minutes. It definitely helped to get some confidence."

Bylsma said more of the same is what the Penguins need.

"Consistency is going to be key for Simon," he said.

Crosby on concussion suit

Penguins center Sidney Crosby missed 101 games between January 2010 and March 2012 because of a concussion and related problems, so he his opinion is sought often on matters concerning head injuries.

But Crosby has not formed an opinion on a federal class action lawsuit filed Monday against the NHL by former players alleging that the league did not protect players from or inform them of the dangers related to concussions.

A similar suit against the NFL by former players of that league resulted in a tentative $765 million settlement in August.

"I'm aware of it," Crosby said of the NHL suit. "I haven't really read [up on] it a whole lot. I couldn't tell you who's involved or over what exactly, what the details are.

"It's not uncommon to see suits like that. Concussions, everyone is learning more and more about them.

"The fact that we're finding out more now probably has something to do with it."

The NHL suit was brought by 10 former players, but many more reportedly have joined it.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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