Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
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Q: Do you think it will take some injuries for Mark Recchi to make it back into the lineup? I don't see a spot for Recchi, based on how people are playing right now.
Brian Jackson, San Francisco
MOLINARI: Although he has made a few exceptions during his nearly two years as coach, Michel Therrien does not, in general, change his lineup after a victory and/or strong performance. Based on that precedent, Recchi -- a healthy scratch for four of the past five games -- seems like a longshot to dress for the Penguins' game against Dallas Friday night at Mellon Arena.
While general manager Ray Shero has declined to discuss Recchi's situation publicly, the front office appears to be assessing Recchi's place in the team's plans, both in the short term and for the balance of the season. That won't have any impact on the decision of whether to use Recchi in a particular game, however, because Shero leaves game-day personnel decisions to Therrien and his staff.
Recchi, whose permanent residence is here, surely did not envision what might be his final season in the league playing out the way this one has begun; he has two goals and six assists in 19 games and has slid from a place on the No. 1 line and power-play unit to the scratches list.
Precisely what Recchi thinks about his situation isn't known, because he has turned down all interview requests in recent weeks. However, there's no evidence he's prepared to walk away from the game and it's conceivable that he would accept a trade, even if he doesn't overtly request one, should he fail to reclaim a spot in the lineup in the reasonably near future.
If the situation doesn't work out to the satisfaction of all concerned -- which would entail Recchi reclaiming a place in the lineup, and then producing at something close to the level his bosses anticipated when he was re-signed last June -- it's easy to see how it could lead to a sour ending in the relationship between Recchi and the franchise.
That would be unfortunate, because he played an important role while the team was being transformed into a championship-caliber club nearly two decades ago, and his return as a free agent in 2005 helped to rejuvenate fan interest in the wake of the NHL lockout.
Recchi never has given anything less than a full and honest effort, here or anywhere else he's played. That's not enough to guarantee him a place in the lineup if the coaches conclude that other players can contribute more, of course, but it should be more than enough to earn the respect and appreciation of people with an emotional investment in the Penguins and their history.
Q: Who would play goal if something happened to Marc-Andre Fleury and Dany Sabourin during a game?
Ann Levitsky, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: With goalie coach Gilles Meloche and senior advisor Ed Johnston on the payroll, the Penguins actually have a couple of longtime NHL goalies on hand at most games, but they wouldn't reach down the front-office depth chart for a replacement in the situation you describe.
Thanks to Rule 5.3, they wouldn't have to. It reads, in part, that "If both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible." What that means, basically, is that the Penguins could turn to anyone in the building who isn't under contract to another club, whether it's someone from one of their minor-league affiliates, an amateur goalie who just happens to be in the crowd or even a guy whose experience consists of time logged in a beer league.
That's the best way to weather such a crisis, albeit not to contend for the William Jennings Trophy.
First Published November 28, 2007 12:00 am