Penguins Notebook: Former Penguin a media 'Army'
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There's no question Colby Armstrong dreamed of being part of a Stanley Cup final at Mellon Arena.
He just always figured he'd do it with a number on his back, not a media credential around his neck.
But Armstrong, a key component in the package the Penguins sent to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis at the Feb. 26 trade deadline, served as a TV analyst, not a heart-and-soul right winger, for Game 3 of the final between the Penguins and Detroit last night at Mellon Arena.
Rogers Sportsnet, a Canadian network, hired him to provide insights on the Penguins, which put Armstrong in the position of analyzing players with whom he was sharing a locker room little more than three months ago.
"I woke up this morning thinking, 'What am I doing here?' " Armstrong said yesterday. "It's definitely a little weird. But at the same time, it's good to see a lot of [familiar] faces."
Armstrong did not venture into the locker room, where a stall bore his name until late February, after the morning skate, saying that "I'm just kind of staying away."
He did, however, have a warm greeting for Sidney Crosby, a close friend, after Crosby fielded questions from reporters in the formal interview area between the home and visiting rooms.
Armstrong joked about how he will fare in his new role ("Hopefully, I cannot say anything stupid") and how much camera time he is expecting ("Hopefully, not that much, unless they have a good makeup person"), but acknowledged that he might be interested in TV work when his playing days are over.
"It's a good experience for me, a good opportunity to try something like this," he said, adding that "I think I have a couple of years [as a player] left in me."
Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor appeared in his 152nd career playoff game last night.
It was, however, his first of this spring, as coach Michel Therrien opted to play him instead of rookie Kris Letang.
"We liked what we'd seen from our defensemen, so we didn't have any reason to change," Therrien said. "It's a different story right now, and we certainly could use experience on the ice and even on the bench."
Sydor described himself as "really ready" to rejoin the lineup and said he did not expect to have trouble getting into the flow of the series.
"I've been in the final before, so I know what to expect," he said.
Sydor also has been around long enough to know that he shouldn't try to alter the course of the final on his own, that his biggest contribution likely would come by playing within himself.
"I think I'm too smart for that, to try to change everything in one shift. I'm just going to go out there and do what I do, do what I've done. Just be solid and bring some leadership."
The Penguins seemed unusually subdued during their game-day skate -- it might have been the quietest one of the season -- but interpreting their behavior was difficult.
Was it a sign they were tight, aware a defeat would effectively end the series? Or were they just particularly focused on the task at hand, again because of what was at stake a few hours later?
Although several players insisted the skate was no different than any other -- "I don't think so," center Max Talbot said -- others acknowledged an almost palpable sense of urgency.
"We're trying to take a businesslike approach and do what we have to do, get a win here because we know this is almost our last life," said defenseman Rob Scuderi.
The Penguins' focus is on the series with Detroit, of course, but their American Hockey League affiliate has caused a stir in the northeast corner of the state, advancing to the Calder Cup final against the Chicago Wolves. The series begins tonight in Chicago.
Although Wilkes-Barre/Scranton isn't loaded with high-end prospects, the Baby Penguins have consistently demonstrated a knack for producing when it matters most.
"It's a club that has found ways to win all year," said assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher, who is general manager of the Baby Penguins. "From that standpoint, it really didn't surprise me."
First Published May 29, 2008 12:00 am