No prayer for Satan
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Q: Why hasn't Miroslav Satan been cut yet? It's no secret that the guy has zero work ethic and plays with absolutely no competitiveness or intensity. Why not take the salary-cap hit and just get rid of him?
Nick, Hilton Head, S.C.
MOLINARI: Satan might finally be running out of chances here -- coach Michel Therrien bumped him off the top two lines a while back, then restricted his ice time during the Penguins' 3-0 loss to Detroit Sunday -- but it remains to be seen if he'll actually take the next step and put Satan in the press box for a game.
FYI, "cutting" players to be free of all ties to them isn't as easy in the NHL as in some other sports, because contracts are guaranteed. That means the Penguins can't get out of their $3.5 million commitment to Satan, no matter what they do with him. If they would send him to their farm team in Wilkes-Barre, his salary wouldn't count against the NHL cap, but that would be a pretty public humiliation of a guy who's been in the NHL for a long time, and doesn't seem like the kind of thing general manager Ray Shero would do unless absolutely necessary. The Penguins understood what they were getting, warts and all, when they signed Satan as an unrestricted free agent last summer; they just hoped that being put on a line with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin would rekindle his goal-scoring touch and provide a blowout patch of sorts for the hole created when Marian Hossa went to Detroit.
Obviously, he has not come close to living up to their expectations, and his inability to contribute in other situations when he's not scoring has rendered him pretty much of no value to this team. There's always a chance he'll start producing goals on a regular basis, but there's also a chance the Penguins' game against San Jose tomorrow will be postponed because an asteroid will land on Mellon Arena in late afternoon. Don't bet big money on either, however.
Q: What do you think of Ray Shero possibly looking Sean Avery's way? He would provide the fire we desperately need. Despite his controversy, I think he would fit perfectly here.
Vikki, West Mifflin
MOLINARI: When you need to have a fire lit -- and that really doesn't look like a major issue for the Penguins lately -- you don't bring in an arsonist. While the Penguins clearly have some significant holes in their lineup, those do not include one for a guy proven to be a toxic presence on every team of which he has been a part.
Avery, of course, signed a four-year contract with Dallas during the offseason, but earned a suspension -- and, ultimately, was banished -- from the Stars for an utterly tasteless, clearly premeditated remark he made earlier this season. That incident was just the latest in a series of over-the-line episodes involving Avery, and earned him a place in a behavioral health program.
The hope here is that for everyone's sake, especially Avery's, the ideas he was exposed to in counseling there actually made an impression. Whether there's any real cause to be optimistic about that being the case remains to be seen. Avery was released from the program last week and cleared waivers yesterday, which was not a surprise. If another team is going to grab him, it will be on re-entry waivers, which would put the Stars on the hook for half of the contract they gave to him. Should a club decide he's worth the risks inherent in adding him to its personnel mix, expect it to put Avery on a leash that's tighter than piano wire.
Avery has some merits as a player -- if he didn't, he'd have been run out of the league long ago -- and there are reports of various teams having at least a modicum of interest in acquiring him at some point in the not-too-distant future, but that is mostly an indication of just how desperate some clubs can get at this time of year. Maybe the past few months have changed Avery, and he'll be a solid citizen and credit to the game for the balance of his career. It could happen. So could that whole asteroid thing.
First Published February 9, 2009 2:21 pm