What was supposed to happen today didn’t – Jack Johnson did not practice.
The newly acquired defenseman was limited to an off ice workout as the entire process of the trade, including passed physicals, had not been completed by 11 a.m. this morning.
“Both teams have to give the ok that each player has passed their physicals and I don’t think Columbus has heard yet,” Johnson said this morning. “I knew that there was a possibility that I might not practice, but I came to the rink planning to practice and got an off ice workout in instead .
“I’m just anxious to get out there with the guys and to break in some new equipment.”
Johnson and interim head coach Todd Richards expect everything to be cleared up by the end of the day today. While not ideal for coaches or players, Johnson expects to play his first game without a practice with his new teammates under his belt.
“I would have liked to have had him out on the ice with his teammates and had a nice day of practice and gotten to see him first hand,” Richards said.
R.J. Umberger, Mark Letestu and Todd Richards all spoke Saturday about their ties to the city of Pittsburgh, the Penguins team or coaching/management.
Umberger, who grew up in the area, loves going “home” to play in front of family and friends and looks forward to the trip every year. The two teams played in the Steel City on Feb. 8th of last season.
Letestu is just looking forward to playing against some of his old teammates and in the only other NHL city he’s called home. Letestu played 85 games over three seasons for the Penguins, including 64 games as a rookie last year.
Richards has worked with a number of people in the Pittsburgh organization, including players, head coach Dan Bylsma and General Manager Ray Shero. Richards said he spent a couple years with Bylsma and learned a lot from him about coaching. He will also see a number or players he helped coach in Wilkes-Barre, but Shero is the person he is most tied to because of the years they spent together.
“It is (a special game for me),” I worked with Ray for four years in Milwaukee and two years in Pittsburgh, so that’s six years. It’s a good relationship and I have a lot of respect for Ray and what he does on a professional level and a personal level.”
The team claimed C Darryl Boyce off of waivers today from Toronto. Boyce might have some immigration issues and is not expected to play tomorrow in Pittsburgh, according to Richards. Boyce has 6-9-15 in 64 NHL games, including 5-8-13 in 46 games as a rookie in Toronto last season.
ENTER SANDMAN... AGAIN
Curtis Sanford was back in the lineup Friday, backing up Steve Mason, but is expected to start on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
The veteran goaltender missed a handful of games after having back issues. He leads the team in all major goaltending statistical categories, but has been slowed down a few times this season due to back spasms.