Q: Since Sidney Crosby is going to be out 6-to-8 weeks, will this alter Ray Shero's plans for the trading deadline?
MOLINARI: Only Shero knows that, of course -- he never divulged what his deadline plans were before Crosby was injured, and hasn't offered any updates since -- but the belief here is that losing Crosby until sometime in March shouldn't have a major impact on the moves Shero makes leading up to the Feb. 26 deadline.
There's no reason to think the Penguins are only a player or two away from making a serious run at the Stanley Cup, so it's pretty much out of the question that they could be transformed into a legitimate contender with a couple of deals at the deadline. Consequently, it would be prudent to remain focused on the long-term objective of constructing a team that will mature into a perennial challenger over the next season or two.
That doesn't necessarily preclude making a move with the idea that its impact might be felt primarily during the stretch drive and 2008 playoffs -- much the way the addition of Gary Roberts a year ago was expected to -- but it would be foolish to deal away a high-quality young player in return for a high-priced veteran rental who likely will be playing elsewhere in the fall.
Of course, because not getting into this season's playoffs would be a psychological setback for the Penguins, regardless of the reasons behind their failure to qualify, Shero might find himself compelled to make a stopgap acquisition if the Penguins slip into an extended tailspin, even if it's one he wouldn't have considered under normal circumstances.
Q: Recently during the local Sokol Kiev game, my wife asked me, "What if the player who was tripped during the breakaway and has to do penalty shot is injured? Who will execute the shot?"
Alex Zuev, Kiev, Ukraine
MOLINARI: Rule 25.3 calls for the captain (not the coach, although the coach obviously is the decision-maker) of the team that was awarded the penalty shot to select a replacement if the player who was fouled is injured and unable to take the shot. The only stipulation is that the player selected had to be on the ice when the infraction that led to the penalty shot was called.