Are the Penguins injury woes a result of poor conditioning?
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Q: This injury bug going around is getting ridiculous. It seems every other day, we find out the Pens will be without another player for two or four weeks. Did the team not condition well enough during the pre-season, or is this just bad luck early in the year?
Brad Thompson, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: Conditioning might well prove to be an issue for the Penguins as the season moves along, because back-to-back long playoff runs have limited the time players had to recover from the rigors of one season and to prepare for those of the season before them.
However, a lot of their medical woes through the first quarter of this season simply cannot be linked to suspect conditioning, even if the guys who got the injuries had devoted the entire offseason to getting in the worst shape possible. Sergei Gonchar's broken wrist would headline that list, and Jay McKee's infected finger is another good example. It's hard to imagine any workout that could have prevented those problems from arising.
That said, ever since the earliest days of camp, coach Dan Bylsma and his staff have had to try to walk a fine line between making sure that their players are in game shape and prepared to play while not draining their energy reserves any more than is absolutely necessary. The Penguins would, after all, like to extend that streak of long playoff runs to three next spring.
Q: I read the question and your response regarding the need to trade Mr. Crosby (in Monday's Q&A). I was interested to know if Mario Lemieux received the same kind of criticism early in his early career.
Deron Gormish, Carrolltown, Pa.
MOLINARI: No, he didn't, and for a couple of very good reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with his remarkable talents.
The Penguins didn't have much more than a cult following when Lemieux was drafted in 1984 -- their official, average attendance in 1983-94 was 6,839, and a now-deceased team official later acknowledged that even that meager total had been inflated -- so it took a while before most people really started to pay attention to him or the team.
More important, though, was that fans who had an opinion, positive or negative, about any subject were limited to basically two ways of making their point to a large audience: Via letters to the editor or radio call-in shows. There were no message boards (aside from the ones in supermarkets where people pinned notices about lost pets) or blogs. Most folks weren't even contemplating the idea of something like the Internet, let alone grasping what an omnipresent force it would become.
The Internet gives people an opportunity to express their feelings, often without first being filtered. That leads to some knee-jerk reactions and ill-considered opinions being put out for public consumption, but that's one of the trade-offs that comes with such technological leaps forward.
Q: Did the Penguins have to order extra red practice jerseys?
Jonathan New, San Mateo, Calif.
MOLINARI: Not yet, but if they continue to lose players with the frequency they have in recent weeks, the Penguins might need to purchase enough red jerseys -- those are the ones given to guys who are not supposed to have contact during workouts -- to singlehandedly pull this country out of this recession.
First Published November 20, 2009 12:00 am