5 questions for the champs

The network of SBNation hockey blogs this summer has a great series on going where all SBNation team blogs get partnered up and we have the chance to ask the other some questions about their team in a little bit of a preview of the upcoming season...  Defending Big D was fortunate enough to get paired with the fine folks over at PensBurgh who of course cover the current reigning and defending NHL champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Look for PensBurgh's questions to us and our answers on their website later today here. As for our questions for them, one may wonder just what exactly do you ask the bloggers of a team that has won everything? We got thoughts from them about their sudden turnaround last spring, about the amount of hockey played in the steel city the last few seasons and how much they miss pro baseball.

DBD: In 07/08 the Pens were one of the top teams in the east during the regular season, and within a game of winning it all. The next season with almost the same roster the team falls apart and a new coach is brought in with 20+ games left. Suddenly they become that same dominating team they were the year before and this time win the Cup. What went wrong with Michel Therien behind the bench and what did Dan Bylsma bring to the team that was so different?

PensBurgh: A lot of writers, fans and so-called theorists suggested that Michel Therrien just lost the team. I feel that's a pretty accurate assessment. You could almost see what players were feeling during Therrien's final days. It was boring, depressing, miserable hockey. Not many players stood as advocates for his dismissal and many of them (Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Talbot to name two) felt like they were to blame for the team's poor play, not MT. Yet hardly anyone would argue with the year-end result of a Cup win. Disco Dan, as he's often called, just has a way with keeping it loose around the team. He knows how to use the players but he also knows how to inspire them to motivate themselves. I guess he really just played a big part in letting the reigns go so the guys could play to their full potential but also made sure they were going in the right direction.

DBD: The Penguins have played hockey into June in back to back years and this season a good handful of the roster will be headed to the Olympics for two weeks of intense, playoff like hockey. Granted the Pens have a young roster, but that much hockey has to take a toll on a team at some point. How big a concern is that for Penguins fans

PensBurgh: Oh it's definitely a concern. 24 extra games last season, 20 in 07/08, short offseasons and now defending champs? Yeah, it won't be easy. If anything this was obviously the better of the two seasons since each guy got to spend some time with the Cup. Hopefully they remember that when the going gets tough and how much they'd like a repeat summer of that.

 

DBD: Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan are still UFAs, any chance that the Penguins sign them back into the fold, or are they looking to replace them with a prospect or two from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton? If the latter, who are the Pens looking at to step up into the NHL?

PensBurgh: Sykora has allegedly been involved with some talks around the team, but I think it's safe to say he won't be returning. I don't know how much of a pay cut he's willing to take (he made $2.5 mill last year), but with the team's cap space it just may be impossible. Currently the Pens have just under $2 mill to work with and may still need to bring a seventh defenseman into the mix.

It's likely however that they will turn to the WBS squad to replace a few holes.  Defenseman Ben Lovejoy is rumored to have a shot on the blue line if a guy like Philippe Boucher doesn't return. Prospect forward Eric Tangradi, acquired in the Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz trade, is also a guy a lot of fans hold in high regards. Personally I feel he's too young to take the immediate jump at the beginning of the season but that shouldn't rule out a few short stints here and there to see how he works with the club. Of course, Max Talbot will be out of the lineup until November after having offseason shoulder surgery, so there's a chance we may see a new face or two for at least two months.  As for Satan - well, was demoted to WBS during the regular season and came back to help a bit during the playoff run. I don't think there's any way he's coming back to Pittsburgh though.

 

DBD: This is the Pens last season in Mellon Arena - better known as The Igloo... Are fans really looking forward to the move to a new rink, will the Igloo itself be missed by fans much and what are the chances we see a "Sudden Death 2" shot at the new Consol Energy Center?

Pensburgh: The new arena isn't even built and already you have a movie in your head about blowing it up? If there's a geriatric Claude Van Damme available I say do it. It's worth it for the humor alone.

I think fans really are looking forward to the new arena.  More seats to fill - and ones you KNOW will be filled - is always a welcome site. Yet there is a sorta feeling you get when you walk into Mellon Arena that likely won't transfer to the new home. It's almost like you can feel the building's history. But let's be honest - it's just a building. I rolled my eyes when the Yankees had all those grand parades and ceremonies for the old Yankee Stadium, so there's no sense in really drawing this thing out.  Maybe a little ceremony at the end of the year, but nothing too crazy.

 

DBD:  This last question isn't really hockey related but the rest of North America wants to know: Penguins have a championship, so do the Steelers... so what the heck is the deal with the Pirates?!

Pensburgh:  They skipped town in 1971. The city even built a really nice stadium for a baseball team to play in, but everyone is still waiting for that team to show up.

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