|Pittsburgh Penguins forward Kris Letang played on several teams with Luc Bourdon, including rooming with the late Vancouver Canucks forward for two seasons with Val D'or in the QMJHL. Bourdon passed away on Thursday after a motorcycle accident in New Brunswick.
Letang and Bourdon spent two seasons as roommates when they played together for Val d'Or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2004-06. They also won two gold medals while playing for Team Canada.
"I was going out of my apartment and my agent called me and just told me what happened to Luc," Letang said solemnly Friday morning. "It was so tough to handle it because Luc was one of my great friends, someone I can always talk to about my tough times and someone that always liked to have fun."
Letang said he last talked to Bourdon three days ago, and the conversation centered around Bourdon's new motorcycle, the one that eventually killed him.
"He got it three days ago and he was pretty excited," Letang said. "He's a guy who had fun with sports stuff, like Seadoos and sports cars. We talked about it. We knew it was dangerous, but he had fun with it. I know he didn't speed with it. He just had a bad move or something. Those things, you have no second chance."
Letang skated with the Penguins during their Friday morning practice here at Mellon Arena, but said he didn't have any energy during.
"We shared everything together," Letang said. "We were supposed to go on vacation this summer. He was coming to Montreal all summer to train. Only close people could know Luc really well. He was a guy who would stick up for you and was always there for you."
Sidney Crosby was stunned by the news that Bourdon, 21, was killed in a motorcycle accident in northern New Brunswick.
"It's tough," he said. "The hockey world is a small community, and I think a lot of guys probably crossed paths with him at some point. Personally, I was drafted with him in Junior and the NHL Draft – I saw him there.
"It's sad to see someone that young have something happen like that. It certainly makes you realize how valuable life is and how lucky we are. But it's an unfortunate incident for sure."
There will be a moment of silence in honor of Bourdon prior to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday.
-- Dan Rosen and John Kreiser
Play day – With two days off between Games 3 and 4, Thursday was a day for the Detroit Red Wings to get away from hockey. The Wings put the skates and sticks away and hauled out the paintball guns and golf clubs at a local resort.
"There were Hummer rides, rock climbing, and some guys played golf," said center Kris Draper, who added that he was involved in a "mini-putt tournament" that he won along with goaltender Chris Osgood, beating several other pairings.
"Ozzie once again carried me," Draper joked to the assembled media throng after Friday's skate.
Draper said getting away from hockey for a day was good therapy for a team that's been playing hockey for nearly eight months.
"It was good to get a day off," he said. "We came back today and had a good practice, and we'll be ready for tomorrow night."
"I thought what we did yesterday was great … absolutely fantastic," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's a great spot we went to. We totally got away from hockey and did something different, which I think is important. We just found a way to do something else while we were doing it."
-- Brian Compton and John Kreiser
Sykora confident – Penguins winger Petr Sykora has gone scoreless in the past seven games, but he's not getting down on himself.
"The chances are there," Sykora said. "I believe I'm still going to score a big goal."
Whether he does Saturday night remains to be seen, but Sykora said it would be a perfect time for him to break out of this mini-scoring slump.
"(Sidney Crosby's) line is playing pretty well right now. They're creating chances and coming up with some goals," Sykora said. "It's up to the secondary scoring to steal one or two goals here. It wouldn't be better timing than for it to happen tomorrow."
Sykora had two streaks of eight streak games without a goal during the regular season (Nov. 7-Dec. 6 and Dec. 13-Jan. 1). He closed the regular season on a six-game scoring drought, but had three goals in the Penguins first two playoff games.
-- Dan Rosen
Cleary – who has two goals and an assist in 19 games – knows his role will simply be to get to the net, just like Holmstrom.
"Whatever line I'm on, I just try to go to the net and be good in the corner," Cleary said. "With Pav and Z, you have to go to the net because it'll be there and on your tape. These guys are so good with the puck. It's so easy playing with them. You just have to work hard and go to the net."
-- Brian Compton
To grow or not to grow? – Playoff beards have become a hockey tradition, and with the Playoffs nearly two months old, there are some pretty good ones in the Detroit locker room.
"Whatever you want to do," he said. "I think some of these things are getting out of control. There are some pretty good growths around here."
But not everyone has joined the Beard Brigade. Among the non-growers is goaltender Chris Osgood.
"I think Ozzie shaves so he doesn't have to answer any questions," Draper said.
-- John Kreiser
Discipline matters – The secret to success is sometimes not trying to do too much, especially against a disciplined opponent like the Detroit Red Wings on a stage like the Stanley Cup Final.
"They're smart. They play between the whistles," Pittsburgh defenseman Darryl Sydor said of the Wings. "They're a disciplined team that's not going to so anything after the whistle, so we have to be smart."
As much as players want to get involved physically, Sydor maintains that they can't go running around looking for a highlight-film hit.
"It's a game of contact, when you run around trying to make the big hit for no reason and get yourself caught out of the play, that's something you don't want to do," he said.
The Penguins will need to improve their discipline in Game 4; they allowed Detroit 19 power-play chances in the first three games.
-- John Kreiser
Power outage – There have been plenty of power plays in this year's Stanley Cup Final, but not a lot of power-play goals.
The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have combined for 30 power plays in the first three games – 19 for the Wings and 11 for the Penguins. That's 10 a game, well over the average of 8.7 in the first three rounds and 8.6 during the regular season.
But the 10 percent success ratio (2-for-19 by Detroit, 1-for-11 by the Penguins) is a big drop from the League-wide rate of 19.0 percent in the first three rounds. Pittsburgh was second through the conference finals at 24.6 percent; Detroit was fifth at 21.0.