Penguins Notebook: Excited Sykora receives his Stanley Cup ring
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On his way from the Minnesota team bus to the visiting locker room at Mellon Arena a couple of hours before the Wild played the Penguins last night, winger Petr Sykora stopped by the familiar Penguins offices to receive his diamond-heavy Stanley Cup ring from general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma.
"I knew I was going to get my ring, so I was very excited," Sykora said a few minutes later. "This is why I play hockey. I was shaking when I got the ring."
Sykora signed with Minnesota at the beginning of this season after spending the past two with the Penguins.
He struggled during the stretch run of the regular season and did not play regularly in the playoffs, then struggled some with the Wild -- including being a healthy scratch two games ago -- before getting a goal and an assist Friday in a 3-2 home win against the New York Rangers.
All that only fueled his desire to play at Mellon Arena last night.
"I always love to play here," Sykora said.
"It's been a crazy day. I just want to go out there and show the fans I can play hockey."
Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher, formerly the Penguins' assistant GM, also got his Cup ring last night.
Post-Gazette hockey writer Dave Molinari was honored before the game. Earlier this year, he was named the 2009 Elmer Ferguson Award winner.
The award is given "in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalism and to hockey."
Recipients are selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and gain automatic entrance into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Molinari will receive his award Nov. 9 in Toronto in conjunction with the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Penguins team president David Morehouse presented Molinari with an engraved crystal plaque.
It was a long few days for Penguins prospect Mark Letestu, and he did not get to practice with the NHL team.
By the time it was determined Thursday that the forward was being recalled, it was too late to arrange a workable connection to get him to Columbus, where the Penguins were facing the Blue Jackets Friday night, from Winnipeg, where Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was playing the Manitoba Moose.
At least, Letestu said yesterday, he got to spend that day with his parents, who had driven 10 hours from Elk Point, Alberta, with the hope of watching him play.
Early Friday morning, Letestu got out of Winnipeg, went through Minneapolis and got to Columbus in the afternoon but did not dress for the Penguins' 4-3 shootout win.
"At least, I got a chance to watch the game," he said yesterday morning.
"It was a bit of a long day, flights that didn't work out, but it was all worth it."
He flew to Pittsburgh with the Penguins Friday night, but yesterday afternoon was sent back down to Wilkes-Barre without making his NHL debut.
Letestu could have stayed in Minnesota, watched the Wild beat the Rangers Friday in a game that started one hour after the Penguins' game in Columbus, hopped on the Wild's charter -- and still made it to Pittsburgh before the Penguins, who only had to fly from Columbus.
That's because the Penguins' charter took off but had to return and land because a door was not properly shut. Everything was straightened out, but it was about 2:30 a.m. when the team got to Pittsburgh International and after Minnesota had landed.
"It was more than we bargained for," Bylsma said of the trip. "I guess it was [related to] Halloween."
First Published November 1, 2009 12:00 am