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Penguins Report: Closing Time 2011

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby experienced concussion symptoms in recovery (1:11 PM).
  • Crosby’s full transcript (1:37 PM).
  • Bylsma nominated for NHL Coach of the Year (12:10 PM).
  • Shero: State of the Union (3:32 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on injuries, the power play and free agency (3:30 PM).
  • Malkin and Fleury share their insight (2:35 PM).
  • Cooke, Kennedy, Asham and Rupp speak eloquently (4:23 PM).
  • Talbot, Dupuis and Letang spit knowledge (4:15 PM).
  • Neal playing for Canada in World Championships (12:44 PM).
  • Michalek playing for Czech Republic in World Championships (2:59 PM).
  • Our humble staff thanks you (4:20 PM).
  • Random pics (3:45 PM).
  • Locker room cleanout pics (2:43 PM).
  • More locker room pics (11:21 AM).
  • “I have become a silent movie…” (4:37 PM).
  • “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…” (11:00 AM).

4:37 PM:
Well, that will do it for the 2010-11 season...sigh. It's been a great year and I'm looking forward to doing it all again next season. Before we go, let's end the Pens Report, the way we start it - with a song.

Now that the year is over and the Pens Report will go silent for the summer, it only seems appropriate to finish off with Elliott Smith "Can't Make a Sound." Enjoy your summer everyone. We'll see you next year. Let's Go Pens.

"Why should you want any other when you're a world within a world?"

4:23 PM:
Final sounds heard around the locker room...

Matt Cooke

On not being able to play in the postseason:
The reason why we play is to play in the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup. To have my teammates battle out there without me hurt a lot.

On hearing the fans appreciate his PK efforts:
I appreciate that they see my worth and value, but it’s still hard to take a positive out of something I caused.

On if he blames himself for the first-round loss:
Absolutely. Maybe even if I was playing it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I would rather be out there helping and going to battle with my teammates.

On if he’ll change his game:
I’ve changed my game since the Savard hit. I’ve tried to make some changes. In the New York game alone I had a chance to hit McCabe, he turned and I didn’t hit him. I had a chance to hit Dan Boyle and didn’t hit him. Unfortunately I made a mistake, but since then I left the team for a week right after and worked on some things I needed some help with. I’ve had a chance to work with some great people outside of hockey and I will continue to do so. I’ve spent hours upon hours with Dan analyzing the game and re-teaching when and where to hit. Everyone knows the game has changed over the last 15 years. I want to come back next year and provide for this team and help this team win, keep my word and do the things I said I would do.

On how hard it is to change his game:
I’m not going to put a tutu on and dance around out there. There are a lot of situations that can go bad in a hurry. Those are the areas and times where more caution has to be taken. I’m fully prepared and I’ve already gone to pretty good lengths to change. I will continue to do so and prove that this is possible.

On who he consulted with after the suspension:
It’s something I did on my own. After it happened I asked Ray and ownership if it would be OK to leave for a little while. They were OK with it. Everyone has times in their lives when you need help or need to talk to somebody. I’ve had the chance now to work with some people. I spent a week specifically dealing with those things.

On similar plays not receiving a suspension:
My suspension is my suspension. It’s what I did. The league made a decision they felt they had to do. I accept that. I don’t really have an opinion on the other hits because the league is doing their job. It really doesn’t have any bearing on how I go about what I’m committed to doing.

On the support from the teammates:
My teammates have been amazing. They tried their hardest to get me back and get to the second round. Unfortunately we just came up a little bit short. Throughout everything, from the first I got suspended to the last night here my teammates have been amazing.

On if the team wants him back:
I hope so. It’s hard to talk to anybody about intentions and plans when you never know what’s going to happen. I personally have full intensions of coming back and being better for this team.

On if the league was too harsh on him:
I couldn’t tell you what the league thinks. It is something that I’ll deal with as my suspension. Outside of that I can’t control or do anything else. The game is the game. There are always going to be things that happen throughout the course of a game and the league has done a pretty good job of dealing with those things in the past. The proof of everything will come. I can sit here and say I’m going to change. When you see me next year, that’s when the proof will come.

Tyler Kennedy

On if it's hard to believe the season is over:
Yeah for sure, you know, we made huge steps with the guys we had in here, and it's still pretty sour in our stomachs.

On how he feels about his series:
I thought I played well, but obviously you want to score a little bit more. I thought I had a lot of good chances in Game 7, but couldn't find the back of the net.

On if the organization needs to try and keep some of the free agents here:
Yeah, I think so. I think the guys in here are great hockey players, and that's why they're here. That's why Ray got them. But it's up to Ray, and we'll see.

On how he would assess his season:
I thought at the beginning of the year I had a pretty good year. I thought I played pretty well the second part of the year. I was given a great opportunity, and I thought I did well.

On if it's pretty amazing looking back how the group came together without Crosby and Malkin at the end:
Yeah, for sure. A lot of guys stepped up and we have great leadership in here with some of the older guys. It just shows that we have a character team here.

On what he thinks will happen with him contractually:
Hopefully I sign back. I love Pittsburgh and I want to be back.

Arron Asham

On what he thinks for next year:
Next year, I hope to be back. I came here and the goal was to win a championship, and we went through a lot of injuries and that sort of stuff. But I like the city, I like the fans, I like it here and I hope to be back.

On feeling shortchanged with his injuries:
I only played 40-some games, and didn't really feel comfortable out there during the regular season. I started to feel better around playoff time, but that’s the way it goes. Hopefully we can get something done and I can make it back here. That’s what I’m hoping.

On if there’s been any preliminary discussions with Shero:
No, nothing. I’m sure I’ll have an exit meeting with him, then we’ll go from there.

On his plans for the summer:
I’ll be here till the end of June, then I’ll go back to Canada.

Mike Rupp

On the season:
We didn't think too much about where we’d be at the end of the year, and we’ve got to like that. On the other side of it, we were up 3-1 in a series we should have won and we didn't do it. With that said, you just have to learn from your wins and learn from your losses. That’s two years now we’ve had opportunities to close teams out.

On how he feels about free agency and what his future holds:
Well, Pittsburgh’s quickly become home for my family and I. Regardless of where the hockey side of things takes me, it’s home. So we’re digging in and plan on – we’ve developed relationships here where we just love the area, and we’d love to be back here.

On how he would assess his season individually:
I thought it was good. I felt like you knew what you were going to get each night from me and I think that is a thing that is important from your fourth line, is to play a particular way every night, and I feel that we did that.

Time to go back to the places you will be from: Michelle Crechiolo

4:20 PM:
We’re starting to wrapup the day and this season’s final Penguins Report (tear). It was an exciting year and a lot of fun for our web staff to cover, and hopefully, for all you Pens fans out there to enjoy. I want to thank you all for following the Pens Report this season. It’s evolved quite a bit over the years, but I think this was our best season yet. I hope we’ve kept you all well informed (and mildly entertained). I wish we could still be going for a few more weeks, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I’d also like to thank our incredible staff: Michelle Crechiolo, Tony Jovenitti, Joe Prince-Wright and Jason Seidling. They’ve done an incredible job all season long and have sacrificed a lot of time and hours to make the best website in the NHL. Even though the end came too soon (sigh), at least the gang can now get some well deserved R&R.

The gang from left to right: Tony Jovenitti, Sam Kasan, Michelle Crechiolo, Joe Prince-Wright

4:15 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Maxime Talbot

On if he’s optimistic if he’ll be back:
Yeah, obviously it’s something where I’ve been here the longest after Brooks Orpik, so you guys know how much this team means to me.

On if there’s a struggle between wanting a big contract and maybe taking less money to stay in Pittsburgh and if he’s thought about that:
You think about it. Ray’s going to talk to Dan and we’ll see if I’m still in the plan, and that’s where it starts. It starts with them and you guys all know my position, so it’s all going to be about talking. Like I said, everyone knows how much I want to stay here. So we’ll see what’s going to happen in the next couple of days. It’s definitely something that it’s the first time in my career I’m in that position, so it’s not something that’s fun because it’s uncertain. But at the same time, we’ll see what happens.

On if he expects something to get done soon either way:
I have no timeline, no expectations. I’m not sure what to think right now. It’s not something where Ray told me, ‘Oh, we’ll talk in the next three days.’

On how good it would be to get some of the free agents back:
It’d be huge. We have a great, great group of guys in here. It’s something where you look at all the guys that did a lot of work this year. There’s a lot of guys that deserve a lot of credit for what we’ve done this year. We have a great group of guys, there’s not one guy in this dressing room where you’re like, ‘Ugh.’ Everybody is a friend and family.

On the thinking that him and Dupuis might be the hardest to sign out of the free-agent group because of they seem to be the most offensive players:
I don’t know if it makes it harder or easier, but I cant really put myself in the team’s shoes. All I think about right now is my own shoes and what I want to do, and you all know what my position is on that.

Pascal Dupuis

On how the process of free agency works:
Basically my part is yes, I do want to be back, yes, I want to be a part of this team for long runs. But it’s the business out of it. My agent’s got to talk to Ray and they’ll take care of it.

On the thinking that him and Talbot might be the hardest to sign out of the free-agent group because of they seem to be the most offensive players:
I don’t know what to say about that. Yes, I do want to be back, and hopefully they’ll consider my numbers for bringing me back.

On if part of him is curious to see what offers might come his way from other teams:
Like I said, the agent’s going to talk numbers and with Ray. All I can say is yes, I do want to be back, and I want to be part of this team again.

On what he thinks his biggest strength is he has to offer:
I think I can play any role. I can play the left side, right side. I can kill penalties. I got my share of goals here and there. I can bring leadership. I’m 32, I’m getting old, so I bring experience as well (laughs).

On if he feels almost cheated that if it is his last year, it had to be one filled with injuries:
No, I don’t want to think about it that way. In my head, I’m coming back. So this was not my last game, hopefully.

On if this was a disappointing year because even though they had a good run at the end of the year, the goal was to win a Stanley Cup:
Yeah, we did have a good run. We went through a lot of adversity this year. The playoffs obviously didn't end up the way we wanted – I still have a hard time swallowing it, actually.

On what it is about this place that makes him want to stay:
There’s so much. Like the hype, the city loves their sports. It’s a great place to live. I myself have four kids, and everybody’s happy to be here, everybody loves it. Friends, schools, everything. At the same time, you come to the rink and you see all the fans, everybody’s wearing the black and gold outside – it’s such a sports city that you do want to play here and you do want to live here.

Kris Letang

On if he’ll think about the power play all summer:
That’s a great question (laughs). No, I’m going to think about how we had to deal with injuries, how we had to deal with a lot of stuff this year. But next year is going to be a new season, new guys and no, I’m not going to think about it.

On how he would sum up this season:
I mean, yeah, of course when you work that hard to get up in the standings with all of the injuries that we had, we had a great season. We finished with 106 points. But obviously it’s disappointing to finish in the first round. But at the same time, it’s just a question of learning and just maybe not doing the same mistake over.

On how encouraging it was to do what they did without Crosby and Malkin:
I think we’re a team that relies a lot on our system. I think every single guy in this dressing room believes in it and that’s what makes us successful over the years. I think every guy that comes up from Wilkes-Barre, they know the system, they play the same way that we do and that allowed them to have success.

On if he heard from Team Canada:
I’m still here. No, I’m not going to say why.

On if he felt he grew in certain aspects of his game this season:
Yeah. I think my game got, in my mind, a lot better defensively, offensively.  I got a chance to play with ‘Brooksie’ all year, and we learned to play together. I think yeah, I learned a lot of things and I think there are a lot of things still to be learned, too. I’m looking forward to another season, but I think I gained some confidence out there.

On how he is health-wise:
I’m good. Just a few things that have to be fixed, but no surgery.

On if he’ll watch any of the playoffs:
No, I won’t watch them. It’s something that when I’m not playing, I’m not watching.

Time for her to go out into the world: Michelle Crechiolo

3:45 PM:
Pens pics II...

Kennedy fer sure addresses the media

Letestu signs autographs

3:32 PM:
State of the Union with Ray Shero...

On Crosby having a recent setback and the state of his progress at this point:
I’ve been up to speed with Sid since day one here, with Dr. Collins over at UPMC and I just talked to (Dr. Collins) again today. Sid saw him yesterday. He’s in great hands. I think the great thing with Sid now is that he’s got time on his hands. He has made significant progress. This is an injury, as we’ve all said from day one with this, where he’s not going to come back until he’s 100 percent. He had made lots of progress, but he wasn’t there. He looked fantastic skating, which was great news. But this is an injury where when you do have something, whether it’s fogginess at times or whatever, you have to step back a little bit. But I think the great news is that he’s got all kinds of time on his side right now. Dr. Collins expects a full recovery. It’s just a matter of time, as we know with these injuries. So that’s the good news. I’m not concerned about it. With the season ending, it’s disappointing, but from Sid’s standpoint, the pressure of the questions ‘Is he going to come back? When will he come back?’ goes away, and now he can get back to just healing and feeling good about himself and taking his time.

On if he has figured out which free agents he wants to keep, what the timeline is and how difficult it will be to try and keep as many as he can:
I’m going to talk to our coaches this afternoon, just a preliminary discussion in terms of our free agents. But this is going to take place over the course of time. We just got done a couple days ago. Looking at our roster, both our goaltenders are signed, seven defensemen are signed – up front is where we have the unrestricted free agent questions and that’s something we’re going to have to, like every year, make decisions on. There’s only so many positions and only so much salary in the salary cap to go around. We’re going to have to see exactly which direction we’re going to go. So I met with a few of the guys here this morning, told them exactly that, and we’ll make those decisions over the course of time. The magic day is July 1 for those guys, but certainly I’d like to have some sort of idea sooner than that as to who we’re going to bring back.

On if he is confident that Crosby was properly diagnosed between the first hit on Jan. 1 and the second on Jan. 5:
Absolutely. One hundred percent confident. We've talked about this at length, and between the first and the fifth, and you don’t have the symptoms or whatever – we’ve seen this with many athletes. It’s a tough injury to diagnose. It comes down to symptoms when they do happen. Sometimes they do happen after another hit or a practice or just over time, the symptoms come on. As I said before on Sid on Jan. 5, we played Tampa Bay and I talked to him myself for 10 minutes before the game, probably around 4:30. It never, ever occurred to me there was anything wrong with him. And I’ve had many conversations with Crosby over the last five years, and it never occurred to me. So when he had the hit in the Tampa Bay game and after the game he said he didn't feel right, that’s when I talked to his parents and said ‘If he feels like this way tomorrow, he’s certainly not making the trip to Montreal or playing the game in Montreal.’ So anyway, hindsight is 20/20 on these injuries, but in terms of what happened in that five-day period and what symptoms he had heading into the Tampa Bay game, I think we’re all confident as to how things were handled and treated. It’s a symptom-based injury, and we’ve seen this many, many times since then with hockey players and football players with what happens. The good news is the league is taking steps for all the players to be more precautionary and certainly more proactive in regards to these injuries, so that’s the great news.

On if not having a solid timeline for Crosby’s recovery affects the way he looks at the offseason and his free agents:
In regard to Sid’s injury, my expectation is that he’ll be back at training camp next year and I’m not going to go out there and try to replace Sidney Crosby on July 1st, because that would never happen anyway. But in terms of the free agents, we have some holes up front because of unrestricted guys. Like with anything, it’s like part of a puzzle you have to try to put back together in terms of the roles you need, the character, the experience, the money, because you can’t bring back everybody. That’s usually the case. So it’s something we’ll talk about with our coaches and our scouts as we do every summer and make that determination. The other guy that is grouped in the free agents is Tyler Kennedy, which we’d like to get him signed as well. So just another guy to add to the equation.

On having his top-four defensemen set and how he looks at the last two spots and if the similar playing styles of his free-agent forwards makes it more difficult for him:
Not really. I mean, they all bring value. One of the ways we got 106 points this year was by some of these players. They played prominent roles, they played in a variety of situations for us and we’re lucky to have them. They did good jobs for us. So in terms of the guys on defense, it’s really a first year for (Deryk) Engelland and Ben Lovejoy. I think they did themselves proud. They did a good job. Matt Niskanen came in and did a good job for us as well, and Simon Despres is turning pro next year and he’ll be on our roster in Wilkes-Barre, and we have some other guys down in Wilkes-Barre that are doing a very good job for us. The strength of our team was on our defense and our goaltending, and we needed that the second half of the year with these injuries. It's a team that I’m real proud of. The way we’re built down the middle, that’s the way it’s been here since I got here and when you’ve got (Jordan) Staal, Crosby and Malkin that have only played half a season, the other guys had to step up and that says a lot about the team and the character guys that we have and finding ways to win games. It made for a story, and these guys were a story every night. Some of these guys, these role players you talk about – they’re unrestricted guys, that's why we can’t bring them all back and that’s the tough thing. But they all provided us with something that says a lot about them.

On what Dan Bylsma did this season from a GM perspective:
Number one, congratulations to Dan for being nominated for coach of the year. It’s very well deserved. Him and his staff, it was a tough year and I think when you plan on some things, you plan to have certain players. We lost, and part of this I want to give credit to Tampa Bay. We lost to a good hockey team, and there’s no shame in losing to Tampa Bay, they’ve got some top-notch players as we know, they’ve got some good experience. They’re deserving to move on. But to get to the point we got to, what I said a month ago, people asked me how we were going to do in the playoffs and I wasn't sure. But what I did say was that we’re going to be a hard out. We’re going to be a hard team to play against. We’re going to make the other team pay a price. Then to go to seven games and lose by a goal, I wish we were on the other end of that by a goal, but it says a lot about the way Dan coached the team. You go back to the course of training camp and the HBO thing came, and I think a lot of people had a glimpse of Dan and the coaches, what they do, how they operate. I think that opened some eyes as to the grip they have on our hockey team, the teaching they do and the presence that he has with our hockey team. We’re very fortunate to have a coach like this and a coach that’s signed moving forward. So I’m proud to say he’s our hockey coach.

On how he evaluates what was done this season going forward:
I think moving forward, you try to put the pieces back together. I assume we’re going to have Crosby and Malkin back in our lineup. Those are two significant pieces. Matt Cooke will be back in the lineup. That fills another hole. It’s all about filling your holes, and whether that’s going to come from internally or from free agent signings or trades, whatever that could be.  We had a good regular season. No matter the injuries or suspensions, the first round of the playoffs, I will say is very disappointing to lose in the first round. I can say I’m proud of our hockey team, which I am. But on the other hand, it’s disappointing because we played well enough in Games 1, 3 and 4 to get three wins and Game 5, we came back in 15 minutes and played really good hockey and lose by six goals. It gets away from you. Then we go back down to Tampa Bay and it’s a 2-2 game in the third, you get stopped on a breakaway twice – that could be the third goal. You look back and say, ‘what if?’ That’s the disappointing part. But as you look forward, we have a lot of good pieces in place that are signed, world-class players. That’s the facet that we move forward on, that these core guys are back in place and surround them and hopefully make the right decisions on our free agents that complement these players.

On wanting to be part of the solution with Matt Cooke and if he will be back on this team next year:
Yeah. There is every indication he’ll be back with us. I think with Matt, he’s taken steps since the suspension to improve himself as a person and as a player, to be a more effective player for us next year in terms of decisions that he makes on the ice. When we missed Crosby and Malkin in the playoffs, we also missed Matt Cooke. Those are three good players that have won Cups with us, and Matt can be a very good player. It’s a learning situation for him and he said all the right things. And as I said at the time, it will be his actions – and the same thing from the league’s standpoint. The league said moving forward, they would be more stringent on suspensions and we’ll see next year how it works out. You know our position on that, and we were supportive of the league’s decision on Matt Cooke and also supportive of Matt Cooke as a hockey player and as a person. He’s a valuable player for us, and we look forward to having him back and as a productive player for our hockey team.

On if he felt the league maintained any sort of standard with Cooke getting a 17-game suspension versus some hits that escaped discipline:
I’m not sure. That’s a good question. There’s now a standard out there for a 17-game suspension. If the league is serious about taking some of these head shots out of the game, we’ve got this committee now with some of the general managers who are former players that are going to make some recommendations, I believe, in the summertime for next year. I think we all and the players want a safer work environment, but we always say we learn and the same things continue to happen. Whether or not a guy doesn't get suspended or gets fined $2,500 or gets two games, I mean, we’ve said it as an organization – we want stronger suspensions for players to be disciplined. And when that happened to our own player, we supported the league’s position. So anyway, we’ll see moving forward. I hope so, because it’s easy for me to say this in March or February at the GM meetings, and when it happens to your player, it’s difficult. But if you believe in something, you have to follow it up and it could be another player of ours next year. You see some of these hits happen, and I can almost read the paper the next day. ‘I didn't mean to do it.’ Usually they don’t mean to do it. It doesn't mean they’re bad people, but the league’s got to take a position and whether it has to do with Matt Cooke, we’re supportive of that.

His closing remarks:
I want to thank our fans. I thought they were fantastic this year, as with every year I’ve been here. But Game 7, it was great. Great environment, they were behind our team 100 percent, they were behind our goaltender. It was great that at the end of the game that our players could salute our fans, because they deserved it this year and hopefully they were proud of our hockey team. Believe it or not, thank you to the media for covering us this year. We appreciate the coverage. Not every city has it like this. It might seem that we treat it as a burden sometimes, but it really isn’t. It’s part of our job and hopefully we can help you guys be more enlightened or answer the questions you need to ask. We thank you for coming out all year and supporting us, so thank you.

Don't have to go home, but can't stay here: Michelle Crechiolo

3:30 PM:
Final coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On being nominated for the Coach of the Year:
It’s an honor to be nominated. It’s humbling to think of the opportunity that I’ve had, the organization I’ve had an opportunity to coach in and to be mentioned for coach of the year in this league, humbling is what I feel. I take a step back and shake my head a little bit and feel how fortunate I am. This team and this group of players, what they’ve done this year, I feel like I watched them give a lesson in working hard, diligence, perseverance and being a good hockey team. I’m fortunate to have coached this team.

On if there were any significant injuries in the playoffs:
If there were players dealing with significant injuries I wouldn’t tell you at this point and time. We did have some bumps and bruises, but nothing that is of significance and hindering someone from playing. There were bumps and bruises, but I would have liked them to get a few more.

On how he’ll use Crosby, Malkin and Staal next season:
In the idea that we talked about and flirted with was Malkin playing the wing. It wasn’t a new one in our mind in a lot of ways. Saying he was going to play with Jordan Staal for 82 games wasn’t necessarily the plan. Now playing without Sid and Geno for a large period of the year and playing with just Jordan Staal, I would be more apt to say Staal will play with Malkin at some point in time, but there will also likely be three centermen. That may happen in the same game, given scenarios of playing a team like Tampa Bay or Washington. There may be a little more frequency that Jordan would play with Geno and have that scenario as well. Staal would be in the center with Malkin on wing, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine in the same game that Malkin will play time at center as well.

On solving the power play:
This season with Malkin and Crosby we were 17.5 percent I believe, which put us 12th or so in the league. I don’t have the stats in front of me right now. It’s not as high as we’d like to be or think we can be. We have done a significant amount of homework in the past about different types of power plays, different things we can do. Even things we do well, penalty kill, we’ll continue to work on in the summer time and make adjustments. We’ll look to what we can do better and do that again. Getting Geno and Sid back will be a big part of improving the power play. We need to think about different things. On the point, are we going with Paul Martin or Kris Letang there or use a forward back there. There are some different options there to give us a chance to be where we think we can be, which is somewhere over the 20-percent mark.

On his impression of the younger players’ season and where they fit next year:
You talk about a top-six forward, sometimes we feel like since we have high-end players like Malkin, Crosby, Staal, that a younger player can fit into a top-six position and be a good compliment to the high-end skill we do have. When you’re talking about Tangradi or (Nick) Johnson. The question is do they get penciled into a spot on our team or add depth to our organization and you add a free agent like Asham or Comrie before the start of the season. That’s really the question. Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson or Eric Tangradi, you might plan for them to be on your team. Or say we’ll have 15 forwards and see how training camp plans out. That’ll be one of the challenges when you talk about this summer and going forward. To watch Nick Johnson in practice as he was returning from his injury, he looks like an NHL player. He’s got the skill, the size, the shot. He can play with the guys out in practice on our team and he looks like an NHL player. They all did very well this year. The center position with Mark and Dustin will be an interesting one. They both did really well. Mark played some more games, but Dustin did a good job. He can play the power play, penalty kill. He did well in faceoffs. Where those guys fit in is something we’ll have to figure out in addition to the free agents that we have on our roster this year that are becoming free agents this summer.

On if he would add a power play coach or consultant:
I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea. In terms of looking at different scenarios with different parts of teams, best power play coach or penalty kill coach are things we have an eye on in general out there in the coaching world. It’s not something I would totally be opposed to. A significant amount of our offseason preparations in different areas is talking with other coaches and consultants. They’re not paid, but we talk to different people to see what they do, what their experience is, what they’ve done differently and so forth. I am not opposed to it.

On his input on free agency:
There is a significant amount of input between (general manager) Ray Shero and I. The salary cap goes into what’s possible and where we can go with everybody, younger players, go into that discussion with free agency and so forth. That’s part of Ray and my discussions, and the scouts discussions. The salary cap has to play into it. We have to understand how much money we have, where we want to be and some of the needs we have. That’s a big part of the discussion Ray and I will have with a lot of our scouts in the next couple weeks and going forward.

On Kennedy’s play this season:
Tyler made significant strides this year and really stepped up. He’s a guy who added a punch to our offense. He’s an energy guy, a speed guy. He drives our team somewhat with the drive and energy with which he plays. He’s a tenacious player. This year he had the opportunity to score more goals, but you saw him score power-play goals. He got that opportunity from the injury situations we had, but he also delivered in those areas. It seems like he’s a guy that will be on the power play in some aspect next season, which is something you may not have though about Tyler Kennedy going into last season. He’s a guy you need on the ice in four-on-four and other scenarios where he might not have gotten much of an opportunity in previous years. He stepped up his game, answered with an offensive punch and was a big part of our team in the last half of the season. It’s a considerable step up for Tyler and his position. He started last two seasons in training camp on a second line and that’s a top-six forward role. It looks like that’s where he’s moved himself to.

2:59 PM:
Add Zbynek Michalek to the international list for the World Championships. Michalek will join Czech Republic in Slovakia for the tournament.

2:43 PM:
Some final Pens pics...

Michalek and Bylsma (right)

B.Johnson, Martin and Danny Kroll (left); Staal, B.Johnson and Adams (right)

Michalek and Conner (left); Fleury and Godard (right)

Michalek and Conner - again (left); Michalek (he's everywhere), Asham and Danny "Banker" Kroll (right)

Dupuis and Gilles Meloche reflecting in French (left); Asham showing off his tats (right)

Fleury and Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi say au revoir

2:35 PM:
Malkin and Fleury share their thoughts...

Evgeni Malkin

On if skating again helped him feel better:
Yeah, of course, it’s hard to watch the game. I think the guys played very well. Maybe they had a little bit of bad luck. But I tried to skate for next year, and we’ll play to win. Of course, I’m trying to be stronger next year. I’ll work out this summer.

On how his rehab is going:
I’m staying here with the condition trainer, and I’m staying here two more weeks to continue my rehab. My knee is pretty strong now, and I’m trying to get stronger for next year.

On the summer:
They gave me a plan for the whole summer, and every day I have work to do with my knee. (Strength and conditioning coach) Mike Kadar is coming to Moscow.

On what position he’ll play next year.
I don’t know. That’s a question for coach. We’ll see next year.

On what position he wants to play:
My position is center, I played center all my life. It’s a little bit more comfortable for me.

On if he could have come back if the team made it farther in the playoffs:
I can’t say, but I tried. Maybe if we won the second round, I might have been able to play the third round and Finals, because when I skated, it didn’t feel bad. It felt pretty strong and I think I could have played this year.

On how he and Crosby kept each other’s spirits up:
Yeah, of course we tried to stay positive very day. But it’s tough watching the game on TV. We tried to help the team in the locker room and on the road when we went to Tampa together. But the team played very well I think.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On how much the team accomplished this season:
I think we surprised a lot of people with the way we finished the season. We definitely had a lot of injuries, missing some key guys, and our captain. I’m proud of the way the team played, still battling for first place there at the end.

On how he would assess his season:
It was a rocky start, for sure. But after that I thought it was pretty good. I played more consistent that my previous years. I’m happy with that, and just the fact that we were fighting ‘til the end for first place was fun.

On if he was disappointed he wasn’t a finalist for the Hart Trophy:
It would have been nice and a great honor. But it’s not such a big deal. I wish we could have kept winning instead and went far in the playoffs. That’s what’s more disappointing.

On if he heard from Team Canada:
Yes, I did. I just have a good opportunity to have a longer summer. The past couple years have been a lot of hockey with short summers. So I think it will be nice to relax, do something else and clear my head to get ready for next season.

On ending the season with the crowd giving him a standing ovation:
It’s definitely a nice feeling, but I’m still going home empty-handed. That’s a tough spot. Everybody here wants to win. When we lose in the first round, second round, it doesn’t matter how you lose. It’s always disappointing when you don’t get to the end.

On seeing Crosby and Malkin skate during the playoffs:
I think both guys were eager to come back. They did everything they could. Geno was rehabbing. Both guys wanted to play. There’s not much else they could have done.

On expectations for next year:
I think we had some good experiences here. I think a lot of guys stepped it up and had a great season. I think we’ll count on these same guys next season, and plus we’ll have Sid and Geno. That’s always our goal coming to camp, trying to win the Cup at the end.

On if he wonders what the series against Tampa would have been like with Crosby and Malkin:
Those are just what ifs. Everybody here gave all they had and everything they got, but it just didn’t go the right way.

Gather up your jacket and move to the exit: Tony Jovenitti

1:37 PM:
Here is Sidney Crosby's full transcript from his talk with the media Friday afternoon...

On his plans for the summer:
I don’t really have a concrete plan, but I’ve got to wait until I feel a bit better before I can really start doing anything. So they want to keep a pretty close eye on things. Hopefully, it’s not too long, but as long as it takes to feel better and hopefully start training for next year.

On if he had a setback:
Yeah, I started to get some symptoms, probably a week and a half ago, whenever I stopped skating. I started trying to ramp things up a bit as far as working out and skating, and I got a little bit of symptoms. So I had a setback, (headaches) and all the stuff that goes along with it. The progression had gone pretty well, but at the same time I still wasn’t ready.

On how it feels to work so hard and have a setback:
Frustrating. My expectation was that I wouldn’t play, but I was trying to make sure that if there was any chance and it was possible to comeback, that I was ready and did everything I could to be ready for that. It’s frustrating and disappointing. You can’t really control any of that. All I can control is what I was doing off the ice and trying to rehab. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

On if he’ll be more cautious due to the setback:
I don’t know if I’m cautious. Having gone through that, you don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to sit here for a few weeks and pushing to workout and get back too quick. That won’t happen. I just want to make sure that when I do start working out again I won’t have to deal with symptoms. I’d rather wait that extra bit of time and make sure when I come back it’s alright.

On if he had enough time to recover after being hit by Steckel:
At that point we thought it was neck related. There wasn’t anything really to recover from. It was thought to be my neck.

On if he was evaluated after the Steckel hit:
Yeah, I had an evaluation. That’s four months ago. I’m worried about getting better. That’s in the past.

On if he thinks he had a second concussion on Hedman’s hit:
It’s possible, but it’s not the easiest thing to diagnose and I think if you ask any guy who’s been through it before, it’s not something you know right away. It could be the case, but it wasn’t because of lack of care or anyone not being diligent as possible. It was just the way the circumstances were. I don’t think anything would have changed.

On how close he was to being cleared for contact:
There is no timeframe. Basically I was in that progression phase of working out. I honestly couldn’t tell you. The doctor didn’t really talk as far as what was ahead. It was just getting through each step. I felt good there. It’s not a matter of waking up one day and getting cleared to do the next thing. You have to go through that stuff at least a week before you’re ready to move forward. Who knows as far as time wise. If I felt symptoms when I did, I wasn’t close.

On if he did anything specific before the symptoms came back:
Not a specific exercise. Exertion-wise I was almost going (full speed), pretty close. When you do that I think you get an idea of where you’re at. Obviously I wasn’t quite there yet. The fact that I was able to do some things, even though that didn’t allow me to get back, in my mind that was a small victory to get on the ice a bit and feel like an athlete again. That was nice.

On the team’s psyche being effected by his setback:
I don’t think anyone’s psyche changed based on when I stopped skating. What we went through this year, the adversity we faced, was a lot. The way guys responded was pretty amazing. I don’t think when you go through all that, me not skating for a couple of days isn’t going to change anything. Guys were mentally tough to deal with everything we dealt with. For me to be able to skate and be around the guys was important for me. I think that had a lot to do with me being able to recover as fast as possible too, being around the guys and seeing how well they’re playing. I think that made things easier. Hopefully, looking back that was something that helped me.

On watching the game from the media level:
I was watching games a lot when I hurt my ankle. It was pretty neat just to be part of that, especially in the playoffs when you’re constantly making so many adjustments. Teams know each other so well. It was fun sitting with (Tom Fitzgerald). He was more of a defensive forward and checker. It was fun to see his outlook. He probably tended to look at defensive plays. When I watch a game, naturally I look at more offensive stuff. It was kind of neat to get his point of view and learn that way. It’s not something I want to make a habit of. Hopefully that’s the last time I’m up there in the playoffs.

On if he’s worried about next season:
No, it’s been really slow, but I’m not worried about that. I feel like, from where I was a couple months ago, things were a lot better. Just being able to skate was encouraging. Hopefully, the next step doesn’t have any hurdles and I can get ready for next season as usual.

On if he’ll play more cautious:
No, I think that’s something you have to get used to. The first couple games back it might be a little weird to play in a game and get hit and go through that. Anyone who’s gone through this will tell you, you need to get those first couple hits in. I can’t play different. I only know one way to play. I’m not going to change my game or anything like that. I have to play the same way. The reason you make sure you’re recovered is so you can do that. If not, you put yourself in a pretty bad situation. I’m going to do everything I can to get better and play the same way I need to next year. I don’t expect it to change anything.

On if there was anything else besides the concussion:
No. Nothing. My neck was hurting there for a bit, but nothing major, just general soreness and that kind of thing.

On if anyone else the league has reached out to him:
I’ve had a lot of guys reach out, not directly to me, but through other players or friends. I think the biggest thing is just to make sure you don’t mess with it and if you get a symptom you know things are wrong and you don’t try to push through it. That’s when you really get in trouble. So I think that was the same advice I got from everyone. But everyone is so different with the symptoms. I don’t think that people realize when you look at a knee or a shoulder you think about how many different things can happen. And there are so many different concussions. You’re talking about your brain. So there’s a lot of different symptoms and a lot of different things that can go on. It’s a pretty complicated injury, but at the same time everyone says the same thing. You have to make sure you take your time and listen to your body. That’s what I try to do.

Media scrum around Crosby
On the team’s expectations for next season:
I think our expectations should be the same as it is every year. We want to win. I don’t see why that should change. I think if anything, what we went through this year should make our team even better, to be honest. What we were able to do – I think half of Wilkes-Barre was here at one point – I think that’s pretty incredible what we were able to do. What was it, 49 wins? We didn’t break stride with what we were trying to do. I think that’s going to help everyone, including me and Geno and all the guys that were out. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure our game is where it needs to be when we start next year. So I see it being something that hopefully helps.

On him and Geno keeping each other’s spirits up:
Yeah. You play hockey every day. You think about it, you train and all that stuff. When you lose that or you’re not able to do that, I think you realize how much you miss it. He was out skating in a track suit, and the whole time after, he was smiling ear to ear. And I knew exactly what that felt like because a few weeks before that I was going through the same thing. It’s amazing what just putting your gear on and being out there around the guys does. So I think we help each other, but I think just being around the guys and seeing the way they handled everything and seeing their attitude. I think that helped us. Geno’s rehab has gone pretty well, and I think that has something to do with it. Everyone was really helpful for us, too.

Knows who he wants to take him home: Tony Jovenitti

1:11 PM:
Pens captain Sidney Crosby said that he had to tone down his on ice workload the past few days after experiencing a setback on his recovery from a concussion:

"I was working out and skating, but had a little bit of symptoms so I had to take a step back," Crosby said. "All the stuff that comes with it. Up to that point the progression had gone pretty well, but at the same time I still wasn’t ready.

"(It's) frustrating. My expectation was that I wouldn’t play, but I was trying to make sure that if there was any chance and it was possible to come back, that I was ready and did everything I could to be ready for that. It’s frustrating and disappointing. You can’t really control any of that. All I can control is what I was doing off the ice and trying to rehab. Unfortunately it didn’t work out."

12:44 PM:
Some more news. Pens winger James Neal is going to Slovakia to represent Team Canada at the World Championships. Details here.

12:10 PM:
The NHL announced its three candidates for the Jack Adams Award - Coach of the Year. And Pens coach Dan Bylsma has been officially named as a nominee. Bylsma was honored by the news.

11:21 AM:

The Pens equipment staff has packed up all the players' gear and sticks, and it awaits them in the locker room.

Super Duper (left); the Captain - Crosby (right)

Fleury's stall and sticks - a.k.a. Flower or MVP

11:00 AM:
Well, the Penguins’ resilient season came to a close Wednesday night in a 1-0 Game 7 setback to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s always disappointing when your season ends, but it was still an incredibly successful year for the Penguins. What the team was able to accomplish during the season, despite 350 man-games lost to injury, is phenomenal. Here’s a quick look back:
  • Finished with second-most points (106) and wins (49) in franchise history.
  • Won 12 straight games, second-longest streak in team history and 11th-best run in NHL history.
  • Sidney Crosby’s 25-game scoring streak totaling 50 points (26+24). It was the longest streak in the NHL since 1992-93 (Mats Sundin, Quebec, 30 games) and tied for 11th-longest streak in NHL history.
  • Penguins opened a brand new home at CONSOL Energy Center. The team finished 25-13-2 at home. Only Vancouver (27) and Anaheim (26) finished with more home wins.
  • The Pens PK unit finished No. 1 in the NHL for the first-time ever with a 86.1 percent success rate.
  • Penguins hosted the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
  • The Penguins and Capitals were featured on HBO’s “24/7: Penguins-Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic,” giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the two teams leading up to the Winter Classic showdown.

Today marks the official ending of the 2010-11 season for the Penguins. The players, coaches and staff will gather together at CONSOL Energy Center for exit physicals, locker clean out and player-coach individual meetings.

Every player will meet with the coaching staff and receive season and postseason evaluations of his play, advice on how to improve and an offseason program with workouts and skills drills to work on during the summer ahead.

“Get Away Day” is also one final chance for this group to get together and say goodbye. Due to free agency, trades and other dynamics, next season’s squad will consist of a different group of players. Today the players with shake hands, bid farewell and part ways one last time.

In today’s final Penguins Report of the season we will bring you comments from GM Ray Shero, Head coach Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and other players, as well as pictures from the day.

For today’s music selection, we’ll keep the tradition alive of starting Get Away Day with “Closing Time” by Semisonic. It’s somber, yet appropriate. 

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