QUESTION: Is Evgeni Malkin definitely going to be with the Penguins and if so, how long until he joins? P.S. i have to stay up till 3am in the morning to catch all the penguins games but its worth it!
Chris Lewin of Manchester, UK
BOB GROVE: Staying up until the wee hours of the night to listen to the Penguins makes you a great fan, and we thank you for your support. Hopefully you'll have some victories to listen to very soon.
The timetable for Malkin's arrival in Pittsburgh is uncertain, although many signs point to him being here next season. Remember that Russia was not among the European countries which this off-season signed the agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation that regulates payments from NHL teams to European teams who lose their players to the NHL. It's not clear if the NHL is discouraging its teams from negotiating directly with Russian clubs, which is what the Russian clubs prefer as a way to drive up the price.
Alexander Ovechkin had a clause in his Russian contract which allowed him to go to Washington if he signed by a certain date. I'm not sure anyone here knows the details of Malkin's contract with Magnitogorsk, which could include a similar clause. We do know that Malkin felt he owed his team one more season in the Russian Super League this winter and wanted to stay there, and all reports point to the fact he's earning a big salary doing so. He can't play here in 2005-06 at this point, having played a game in Europe past the start of the NHL season.
That said, we do know two things: the Penguins are going to make every effort to get him here next season, and Malkin has said repeatedly that he wants to play in Pittsburgh this fall. He's been the top scorer in Russia all season, helped Russia to a silver medal in the World Junior Championships earlier this month (where he was MVP) and will play for his country in the upcoming Olympics. By next season he'll have nothing left to except whether or not he's one of the best young players at the NHL level. That's why I think it's likely he'll be here next season.
QUESTION: How did Pittsburgh determine the penguin as the team mascot, and who designed the skating penguin logo.
Kyle of Scottdale, Pa
BOB GROVE: The decision to name the team "Penguins" can be traced to Carol Dangerfield, the former wife of team co-founder Jack McGregor. As she tells the story,
"When Jack got the franchise, he was so thrilled. Then he said, 'Oh my gosh, we've got to name it.' I said, 'I love to think of things like that.' I was thinking of something with a 'P'. And I said to Jack, 'What do they call the Civic Arena?' And he said, 'The Big Igloo.' So I thought ice. . . Pittsburgh. . . Penguins. We talked about other names, but we kept coming back to the Penguins. Our friends really liked it. We pictured the uniforms being black and white."
Pittsburgh did conduct a Name The Team contest, and McGregor believed word of ownerhip's choice leaked out, causing hundreds of entries to include the name "Penguins."
The design of the skating penguin you see today was the work of Bob Gessner, a local graphic artist who had done work for the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL, the University of Pittsburgh, the Pirates and Steelers.
QUESTION: What do you think about Andy Chiodo spelling Fleury for a game? Just about everyone else has gotten a try. It seems that in the last couple of games Fleury allowed a few goals that MIGHT be attributed to fatigue. It isn't easy to quantify that though.
And anyways as an old fan of Chiodo's Tavern in Homestead I'd always hoped that Andy would make it with the big club.
Justin Douglas of Pittsburgh, PA
BOB GROVE: As far as Andy Chiodo goes, this season has not been as memorable for Andy as 2003-04, when he played eight games with the Penguins and went 3-4-1, earning his first win at Phoenix on Feb. 25 to stop the Penguins' 18-game losing streak. He made his second AHL start of the season last Saturday in the Baby Pens' 7-0 home loss to Bridgeport, and he's compiled a 3.19 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in 14 games with Wheeling of the ECHL -- not great numbers.
Andy did not have a strong training camp and has been stuck this season behind Dany Sabourin in both Wheeling and Wilkes-Barre, where Sabourin has been consistently good. Although Sabourin did not play well in his only NHL appearance of the season, it's highly unlikely Michel Therrien would turn to Chiodo before either Sebastien Caron or Sabourin when he decides to give Marc-Andre Fleury a rest.
I agree that Fleury probably needs a rest. Chiodo's got plenty of time to make it back to the NHL, but he's got to earn that chance first, and I don't think he's done that to this point.
By the way, I know many of us miss Chiodo's Tavern. . .
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