Penguins Q&A: An end to late-game thuggery?

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Editor's note: Updated in the wake of the NHL's one-game suspension of the Flyers' Daniel Carcillo for his late game hit on the Penguin's Maxime Talbot.

Q: Why doesn't the NHL allow for penalties to carry over at the end of the game during a playoff series? Allowing that would stop the thuggery demonstrated by the Flyers at the end of Game 1. It's an embarrassment for the NHL.
Larry Nishnick, San Diego

MOLINARI: The NHL obviously agrees, based on the one-game suspension Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo was assessed Thursday night for punching, or possibly butt-ending, Max Talbot in the back of the head in the waning seconds of the Penguins' 4-1 victory in the series-opener Wednesday night.

When he handed down the decision, Colin Campbell, the league's senior vice president of hockey operations, said playoff teams had been warned in a conference call Monday that the NHL would not tolerate clubs trying to "send a message" at the end of a game whose outcome had been decided.

Carcillo's suspension -- which was accompanied by a $10,000 fine for Philadelphia coach John Stevens -- is particularly noteworthy because Carcillo's attack on Talbot was undetected, or at least unpunished, when it happened.

The submission above was just one of several from Q&A readers suggesting that having late-game penalties carry over to the next game would be an effective deterrent; a variation on that proposal calls for penalized players to be ineligible to play in the subsequent game for a period equal to their unserved penalty time. (For example, if a player was assessed a 10-minute misconduct and two minors at 19:30 of the third period, he couldn't take his first shift in the next game until 13 1/2 minutes of the first period had expired.) The problem with that is that games are, for the most part, self-contained entities, and the thinking here is that teams should be neither rewarded nor punished for something that happened previously.

(Unless, obviously, an action is so grievous that it merits a suspension, like the one handed to Carcillo Thursday night.)


Q: I was surprised to read there will only be 18,000 seats in the new arena. With a season-ticket waiting list of 2,500 and counting, you'd think the Pens would push the current rink capacity at least 2,500 higher. Any thoughts on why they didn't hit the 20,000-seat mark? Those extra seats would bring in an additional $2 million a year in revenue if they were all priced at the low end, and that sounds significant to me.
Brian Altmann, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

MOLINARI: The Penguins' following now is such that they probably could fill PNC Park on most game nights, but there are a few pretty good reasons -- all rooted in finances 8 0 they chose to make the new building smaller than it might have been.

There's a balance to be struck between having enough seats to keep an arena's primary tenant profitable and holding down construction costs.

It's safe to assume that the people who conceived and designed the new arena didn't pick its size arbitrarily.

It's important to consider that this is a medium-sized market whose population has been shrinking for decades, and that the Consol Energy Center is a multi-purpose venue, not something that will be used strictly for hockey. While the Penguins might have no trouble attracting 20,000 or 21,000 people, the same can't necessarily be said for all of the circuses, ice shows, truck pulls, concerts and other events that will be held in the building.

Also, it was just a few years ago, when the Penguins were fixtures at the bottom of the overall standings, that they couldn't fill all of the seats in their current home, let alone a place with a larger capacity.

And, hard as it might be to believe now, there likely will be another time in the future (however distant) when they won't have a bounty of marquee talent and when they'll settle back down toward the bottom of the overall standings.

If that happens, general interest in the team, as well as ticket demand, likely will drop, no matter how much the franchise's fan base will have expanded by then. While these are good times for the Penguins, when you're talking about a building that will be in use for decades, it's important to take into account that there will be some rough times, too. (Doubters need only look to Chicago, where the Blackhawks routinely play to capacity throngs in the cavernous United Center now that they've become a successful and entertaining team, but where the crowds were of the friends-and-family variety just a couple of years ago.)



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