Will the new arena have an organ?
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Q: A Ryan Malone comeback? There's little doubt that the Pens are missing a little of the grit that players like Jarkko Ruutu, Ryan Malone and Georges Laraque supplied last year. This may be amplified if the Pens get deep in the playoffs. That said, do you think there's a chance that Ray. Shero will look to move a defenseman once Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar get closer to health? Say, a Kris Letang or Alex Goligoski for Ryan Malone, who is struggling in Tampa Bay but would bring a much-needed dimension to the Penguins?
Nic Ellis, Boise, Idaho
MOLINARI: Yes, as has been noted in the Q&A several times, it's perfectly reasonable to believe that, if the Penguins find themselves with eight or nine healthy defensemen at some point, Shero will consider dealing one to help fill one of the voids in the Penguins' lineup.
But no, there's absolutely no reason to think they would even consider trading for Malone, and they certainly wouldn't give up a promising young defenseman like Letang or Goligoski to do it.
Malone's contribution to the Penguins over the past few years, particularly in their drive to the Stanley Cup final this spring, was well-documented, and it's unlikely they would have accomplished as much as they did without him. He has decent hands, was fearless, played tough and was a great team guy. An important piece of their personnel puzzle.
However, if the Penguins were to trade for Malone, they would take on the balance of the seven-year, $31.5 million contract he signed with the Lightning this summer, and they simply are not interested in paying him that much (or able to make that kind of deal work within the constraints imposed by the NHL's salary cap). If they had been willing to spend that kind of money on Malone, they would have done so before the idea of him going to another club ever gained significant traction, let alone actually happened.
Malone, like most of his teammates in Tampa, has stumbled out of the gate this season. He has three goals and no assists in 14 games, and has been nursing an unspecified injury lately. Whether Lightning management is second-guessing the decision to give him such a generous deal is hard to say, but it's way too early to pass judgment on how valuable he will be to that franchise. It's not realistic to expect him to be a big-time point-producer, but he is a positive force in the locker room and his willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed should come in handy on a team that's trying to re-learn how to win.
Even though Malone's tenure here was relatively brief -- he spent just four seasons with the Penguins -- his niche in franchise history is secure because he was, of course, the first Pittsburgh-trained player to play for them. That would have been enough to make him a significant figure here; the fact that he did so much more for the Penguins, on and off the ice, only enhances his legacy.
Q: Do the Penguins have plans to continue to utilize an organ in the new arena?
Christian, Allison Park
MOLINARI: The word from the Penguins is that no decision on that -- as well as a number of other issues pertaining to elements in the new arena -- has been made, but that it will be addressed "sometime in the next year." One member of the front office, however, said that even if there is an organ, it likely will be a "secondary" feature.
Fans of a certain vintage can remember -- most of them, fondly -- a time when an organist, not recorded music played at high volume, provided the entertainment during stoppages in play and intermissions. Indeed, the pipe organ at Chicago Stadium has a fairly prominent place in hockey lore, the organist at the St. Louis Arena/Checkerdome could always invigorate crowds there by pounding out the theme song of a brewery based in that city and Vince Lascheid earned a place in the Penguins Hall of Fame with his creative keyboard work over more than three decades.
Pretty much everything changes over time, however, and hockey is not exempt from that truth. There was, after all, a time when sticks not only were crafted from wood but straight, not curved, blades were the norm. Today, it's major news when a guy doesn't have curve on his blade (Sidney Crosby is one of those rare players) or uses a stick that wasn't fashioned from some high-tech material.
First Published November 20, 2008 12:00 am