Penguins Notebook: Armstrong waits to see if he will be free agent

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ATLANTA -- When Atlanta traded Marian Hossa to the Penguins in 2008, the Thrashers insisted that Colby Armstrong be part of the package coming back.

But, even though Armstrong has given them the same talents and intangibles that made him an integral part of the Penguins' lineup, his long-term future in Atlanta is far from certain.

He signed a one-year contract in the offseason and, unless he gets a new deal in the interim, will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

"Who knows what's going to happen from now until then?" Armstrong said before the Thrashers faced the Penguins last night. "We'll see what happens from there. Hopefully, we can get things going here."

His take on a few other issues:

Atlanta's attendance -- "It's pretty hit-or-miss. Some games are great, then other games are fairly quiet. It's kind of weird. But I guess the first few months of the season are always like this. ... The interest isn't as crazy as it is, the more north you go. But, at the same time, the fans we do have here are pretty hardcore."

The Thrashers' 6-4-2 start -- "We're a pretty deep team. We picked up some good, solid veteran guys who have been doing a great job for us."

His offseason wedding -- "The wedding was awesome. We ripped it up. It was like a week-long thing. We had a blast. It was awesome. Good times."

Not socializing with his ex-teammates Friday -- "I have eight buddies in town from Saskatoon. Trying to host all of those meatheads is pretty tough. I feel sorry for the wife."

Armstrong, by the way, learned recently that he will become a first-time father in 2010.

Kennedy will return soon

Right winger Tyler Kennedy, who has missed 11 of the Penguins' past 12 games because of what is believed to be a groin or hamstring injury, yesterday participated in the game-day skate.

"I'm getting better," Kennedy said.

Although he said he does not have a target date for his return, there are indications it could happen this week. Kennedy noted, however, that he wants to guard against returning prematurely, a mistake he made Nov. 3 at Anaheim.

"It's taking longer than I thought," he said. "I just have to stay focused and stay positive. I thought it would go away, and it ended up not going away. It's a learning experience, for sure."

Taking a knee

Ottawa forward Shean Donovan, a former Penguin, reportedly will miss at least six weeks as a result of damage caused in a knee-on-knee collision Thursday with Penguins winger Matt Cooke in the third period of the Senators' 6-2 victory at Scotiabank Place.

Indications are that Donovan will need rehabilitation, not surgery, to fix a damaged medial collateral ligament.

"There's a good chance there may be some [anterior cruciate ligament] damage as well," Senators coach Cory Clouston told reporters yesterday. "It might take 6-8 weeks before we know what the complete extent is. It could be a lot longer depending on how the ACL is."

Cooke offered this perspective on the play during which Donovan was hurt.

"The puck went down to their defenseman, and our guys were changing. So, I stayed on the ice to make sure they didn't get a quick breakout. I was playing in between the other guy on the [boards] and whoever was in the middle. I played in between so I could react to the puck, and, when it was passed to Donovan, I cut in and hit Donovan."

Although Clouston and Senators general manager Bryan Murray suggested Friday that Cooke's hit was dirty, Donovan does not seem to agree.

"I let my guard down, I guess," he told the Ottawa Sun. "I thought there was nobody there and I made the turn. He was out there. I've played against him lots of times. He finishes checks. It was a hit, and obviously he went through with his knee to finish it. It's not the dirtiest check I've ever seen."


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


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