Penguins Notebook: LeClair takes high road on captaincy

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It would have been easy -- and understandable -- for John LeClair to decline Michel Therrien's offer.

To say again that he could be a leader for the Penguins without having a letter stitched to his sweater, and suggest that Therrien offer an alternate captaincy to one of his teammates.

But when Therrien -- who took an "A" away from LeClair last season and gave it to Sidney Crosby -- spelled out the significance of having LeClair take on that role, LeClair decided he couldn't refuse.

"I'm here to help," LeClair said. "It's one of those things that, if it's that important and it's something they want me to do, I'll be happy to take that responsibility."

LeClair, who will wear an "A" during road games, will be one of four alternate captains. The others are Crosby and Mark Recchi, who will be alternates for all games, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who will serve at home.

Orpik out 2-3 weeks
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said he expects to be out for "two or three weeks, probably" after having surgery on his right hand yesterday.

Orpik said a bone "you don't really need" was removed during the procedure, and that the surgeon verified there was no damage to a nearby tendon.

"He said everything else looked good," Orpik said. "So it was pretty minor."

Although team officials have said it wasn't clear when Orpik was injured, he traced it to the second day of training camp, when his hand got jammed into the glass.

"I thought it was just a bad bruise," Orpik said. "It didn't come up on an X-ray. I just kept playing. After that last preseason game, it was just killing me. I couldn't even really make a fist.

"I was hoping it was just a bad sprain, but it got to the point where I couldn't even twist the cap off a bottle of orange juice in the morning. When I couldn't do stuff like that, I knew there was something wrong."

Orpik said he hopes to begin riding a stationary bike in a few days, get the sutures removed in about 10 and resuming playing as soon as his rehabilitation is complete.

"I don't want to rush it this early [in the season]" he said. "But, obviously, I want to get back as quickly as possible."

Lemieux is honored
Mario Lemieux's retired No. 66 sweater was returned to its place above the Mellon Arena ice surface in a pregame ceremony that featured video highlights of his career -- has anyone who saw it forgotten the goal when he split between Minnesota defensemen Neil Wilkinson and Shawn Chambers in the 1991 Stanley Cup final? -- and a voiceover by Sidney Crosby on the arena scoreboard.

The crowd responded with a standing ovation, and the decibel level went up appreciably when Lemieux, who spent the night in a luxury box, stood and acknowledged their cheers.

Slap shots
In addition to their injured players -- Orpik, Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Eric Cairns (knee) and Ronald Petrovicky (hip) -- the Penguins scratched forward Karl Stewart. Although Malkin participated in the game-day skate and handled and shot the puck more assertively than he had previously, there still is no target date for his return. ... Forwards Niko Dimitrakos and Riley Cote and defenseman Denis Gauthier did not dress for the Flyers. ... Penguins Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy did color commentary on the game for a high-definition TV network.


Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .


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