Sidney Crosby

Report: Sidney Crosby might not be ready for the start of the 2011-12 season


It’s going to be tough to forecast the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins because of the still-in-limbo status of their two superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin’s situation might actually be a little easier to gauge since he’s dealing with knee issues rather than ever-elusive concussion problems.

Now, it’s important to take any unconfirmed report with a grain of salt. With that disclaimer out of the way, Josh Rimer of NHL Home Ice reports that “three sources” told him that Crosby won’t be ready for the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Again, it’s impossible to tell how reliable those three sources are, but Rimer is a producer for a well-known hockey radio show so it probably wouldn’t behoove him to throw out a rumor without any basis.

That being said, the regular season is still just a shade under two months away, so there’s always the possibility that Crosby will make more progress than expected. The hope was that Crosby would be healthy enough for training camp so that he could get acquainted with new teammates such as James Neal and Steve Sullivan, but that might not happen now.

The Penguins could probably accept the possibility of Crosby missing a portion of this regular season if it means taking every precaution to make sure that they’re doing what is best for the still very young star’s future. We’ll keep an eye on any denials, confirmations or other comments or updates from the team itself. Again, it’s unclear if this rumor will come to fruition, but it would be a sad situation if Crosby really did miss even more games that “count.”

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Update: While the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is looking into the rumors, Eye on Hockey points out that USA Today’s Kevin Allen provided more optimism in his Saturday report. That report indicates that Crosby is “training and planning as if he will be ready for the start of training camp.” Naturally, that doesn’t mean that he will be ready, but it underscores the idea that the situation is murky at the moment. We’ll keep an eye on the situation.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”