Penguins Notebook: Pesonen to play in Russia
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Former Finnish Elite League standout Janne Pesonen, who excelled as a minor leaguer but didn't get much playing time with the Penguins last season, has signed with Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Finnish winger became a free agent last month following his first season in North America and opted for the Russian pro league after getting offers from the Penguins and about a dozen other NHL teams for two-way contracts, his agent, Todd Diamond, said yesterday.
In 70 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, Pesonen, 27, had 32 goals and a team-leading 82 points. In sparse playing time over seven games in several short stints with the Penguins, he had no points.
"It was not what we expected," Diamond said of Pesonen's chance to prove himself at the NHL level. "A lot of that had to do with [then-Penguins coach] Michel Therrien, and then the moves and trades they made at the deadline made it more difficult for him.
"He's not bitter. He's a class act. He would like to play in the NHL in the future if there is a one-way contract."
Pesonen's KHL contract is for two years, but he can opt out after one season. He will join former Penguins winger Alexei Morozov with Ak Bars Kazan, which won the league title last season.
Pesonen will participate in Finland's Olympic summer camp, beginning Monday.
Russia will conduct its Olympic summer camp Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in Moscow. As expected, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar are among the 38 invited.
Malkin played in the 2006 Winter Games; Gonchar is aiming for his fourth Olympics in Vancouver in February.
The Penguins named John Hynes assistant coach for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where Todd Reirden took over as coach late last season.
Hynes, 34, is heavily steeped in USA Hockey, going 216-113-19-9 over the past six seasons as a head coach in the national team development program. Last season, he was 42-17-6 with the under-17 team. He led the under-18 team to world silver medals in 2006 and 2004 and a bronze in 2008.
The Penguins declined comment on a report of an Ohio man who crashed the post-game celebration when the Penguins clinched the Stanley Cup in Detroit in June.
Ryan Craft, 32, a former high school hockey star, told the Dayton Daily News he sneaked onto the ice as players were motioning for security to allow family members to come down from the stands. He said he also went into the locker room and has photos of himself holding the Stanley Cup. Craft told the newspaper he is a lifelong Penguins fan.
First Published August 5, 2009 12:58 am