Penguins Notebook: Laraque unhappy with 3-game suspension

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There was no intent to injure Buffalo defenseman Nathan Paetsch, or to retaliate for something earlier in Wednesday's game, Penguins winger Georges Laraque said yesterday.

"I hope that Nathan is OK and he feels better," said Laraque, who Thursday received a three-game suspension, the first time he has been benched by the NHL. "Obviously, there was no intent there. It wasn't a chippy game. It wasn't a physical game, so it's not like I was looking for retribution.

"I barely touched him. He's 5-[feet]-10, I'm 6-3. I looked at the play a million times. I didn't raise my elbow. I was surprised he got hurt."

Laraque, one of the tougher players in the league, caught Paetsch with an elbow near the corner boards at 2:34 of the second period of the Penguins' 7-3 win.

Paetsch was knocked cold and eventually was helped off the ice.

The Sabres have said Paetsch has a concussion.

"It's unfortunate that he was injured," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "Georges said he was sorry that he was injured, but [being dirty] is not the way Georges plays.

"He's played over 600 games in the league without a suspension."

Laraque wondered if Paetsch -- who was questionable for Wednesday's game after taking a hit by New York Rangers' tough guy Sean Avery the previous game -- was taking a risk by playing Wednesday.

"If you look at the game before, when he got hit by Avery, people say he was OK and he came back from that, but he looked like he was dazed all game," Laraque said. "I think he shouldn't have been playing against us."

Laraque was dismayed that, as he sees it, the NHL is dishing out discipline based on injuries, not the plays themselves.

"Now, I guess, it's not the action, it's the result," he said. "I just hope in the playoffs that's not going to be a factor."

Crosby ad to debut

StarTV viewers won't be able to see Penguins star Sidney Crosby playing in the next week as he rests a sore ankle, but they could get to see his first United States Gatorade commercial, which makes its debut this weekend on various networks.

It's part of the sports drink company's League of Clutch ad campaign. Crosby is shown winning a shootout for the Penguins against Toronto. Fans can watch the ad at www.post-gazette.com.

Gonchar greets Russian teen

Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who is Russian, spent time after practice with Russian teenager Vladislav Makarov, who was brought to the Southpointe practice by Rob and Diane Wise.

The Wises are part of Protestant Campus Ministries at Youngstown State University, which brought Makarov to the United States for three months so he could receive donated prosthetic legs and go through rehabilitation. Makarov was placed in an orphanage in Dmitrov, Russia, after he lost his legs in a train accident.

Fun follows day off


With no games or travel between the win against Buffalo and tomorrow's matchup with Philadelphia, the Penguins had a day off Thursday and had a little fun in practice yesterday.

For the second half of the session, the squad was divided and held a face-paced, short-ice game that varied from one-on-one to two-on-two to three-on-three.



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