Q: I thought Max Talbot whacking Pavel Datsyuk on the foot with his stick (during Game 5) was ridiculous, and possibly an intent to re-injure. Furthermore, I thought Sidney Crosby's slash on Henrik Zetterberg was totally inappropriate for a guy who is being marketed as the face of the NHL. I think Crosby and Talbot are better than that and shouldn't resort to goonism when the game isn't going the Penguins' way.
Richard Esper, Youngstown, Ohio
MOLINARI: Whether Talbot actually was trying to hurt Datsyuk is impossible to know because at that point, there were conflicting reports about which of Datsyuk's feet had been injured. Consequently, Talbot had no better than a 50-50 chance of picking the correct one.
For better or worse, there is ample precedent for targeting an opponent's injury -- this is precisely why clubs insist they should not be compelled to divulge any meaningful injury information -- but that's not the most troubling thing about the way the Penguins melted down during the second period of that 5-0 loss. And it has nothing to do with Crosby being marketed as the face of the NHL, because that's not something he asked for, or volunteered to do.
No, the real issue was the lack of maturity and composure that the Penguins showed, because it was so unexpected and out of character. There is a particular burden in that regard on Crosby, because he is the Penguins' captain and thus has responsibilities that go beyond those of other players. Whether he was retaliating for an earlier cross-check by Zetterberg, as Crosby contends, isn't the point; he was guilty of allowing his frustration to percolate to the surface and take the form of a slash that no one in the building could have missed.
It's understandable that the Penguins were exasperated by what was happening to them, but that doesn't justify the way some of them channeled those emotions. Frankly, not much could.
Q: What are the requirements to getting your name on the Stanley Cup?
Matt Coohill, Redmond, Wash.
MOLINARI: They are pretty simple, actually. A player is guaranteed a spot on the Cup if he appears in 41 or more regular-season games, or at least one during the Cup final. (And no, a player who is part of another organization when a team wins the championship cannot get his name on the trophy, no matter how much he contributed to the club's success during that season.)
There is some flexibility, however. Team can ask the league to add player who did not, because of extenuating circumstances, meet either criterion. That's what the New York Rangers did in 1994 for Eddie Olczyk, who dressed for just one playoff game after a thumb injury limited him to 37 appearances during the regular season.
Q: When did the playoff beard tradition start? I know Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur never had playoff beards.
Jeff Evagues, Manorville, N.Y.
MOLINARI: That's not something for which official records are kept, but the belief here is that the New York Islanders of the early 1980s were one of the first teams, if not the very first, to have a significant number of players put their razors away for the duration of a playoff run.
And because the Islanders won four consecutive championships in 1980-83, guys like Clark Gillies and Ken Morrow had a pretty good lumberjack look going by the time late spring rolled around.
Q: Is Tie Domi associated with the Penguins organization?
Bob Goodman, Scituate, Mass.
MOLINARI: No, but that's been a pretty popular question among Q&A denizens in recent weeks, because Domi has been in regular in Mario Lemieux's suite at games during these playoffs.
Improbable as it sounds, given that Lemieux is most of the most gifted players in hockey history and Domi made his living largely because of his toughness, those two have become pretty good friends in recent years. Consider it another example of how opposites really do attract.