Penguins Notebook: Whitney's rare fight gets some attention
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Fight are pretty rare in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fights involving former Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney are pretty rare at any time.
But one of the two dozen major penalties handed out for fighting in the first 38 games of this spring's playoffs went to Whitney, who traded punches with San Jose's Joe Pavelski at the end of the second period of Anaheim's series-clinching, 4-1 victory Monday night against the Sharks.
Whitney got a bloody nose, along with some praise from his former teammates, for his trouble.
One offered a possible explanation for why Whitney lost some blood, as well as his fight.
"He's got a problem with bloody noses, I think, so I don't know if it was from a punch," said center Max Talbot, another infrequent fighter whose bout with the Philadelphia Flyers' Daniel Carcillo was cited by teammates and coaches as the turning point in the Penguins' 5-3 victory Saturday at the Wachovia Center.
Although most observers gave Pavelski a clear decision in the fight, the Penguins were impressed by Whitney's willingness to drop his gloves with him, much as they were by Talbot's willingness to take on an opponent he almost certainly knew would beat him.
"It didn't go all that well, but [Whitney] was sticking up for a teammate," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "So that's what really matters."
Any uncertainty about the Penguins' coaching future was removed yesterday, when Dan Bylsma had the "interim" removed from his title.
And, if Bylsma has his way, members of his staff won't be going anywhere, either.
Bylsma praised the performance of assistant coaches Mike Yeo and Tom Fitzgerald and goaltending coach Gilles Meloche and said he wants all three to return next season.
So, apparently, does general manager Ray Shero,who said those three "have done an outstanding job."
Returning shouldn't be an issue for Meloche or Yeo, but whether Fitzgerald will want to move into coaching fulltime is not clear. He was the Penguins' director of player development until Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien Feb. 15. Fitzgerald's family continues to reside in Massachusetts.
He said recently he hasn't spent much time assessing his long-term coaching prospects.
"The truth is, I live every day, day to day," he said. "I'm a hockey person. I've done it professionally for half my life. I don't know. Hockey is in my blood. It's a passion. It's what I do. It's who I am. The cards will lay where they lay when this season's said and done."
San Jose is the latest regular-season champion to make an early exit from the playoffs.
Detroit won the Presidents' Trophy and Stanley Cup in 2007-08 but is the only team to do so in the past six seasons. For the Sharks, being knocked off by the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference is just the latest in a string of postseason disappointments.
"They have such great [regular seasons] every year," Talbot said. "Then, when they get into the playoffs, they can't [succeed]. I think it's a mental thing."
The Penguins have not learned if power-forward prospect Eric Tangradi will require surgery to repair the damage done to his left hand when it was severely cut in an Ontario Hockey League playoff game last week. Shero said the team is waiting for an assessment from Tangradi's doctor, which will be relayed through team physician Dr. Charles Burke.
First Published April 29, 2009 12:00 am