Sidney Crosby, Dan Bylsma

Dan Bylsma hasn’t asked Sidney Crosby for health updates this summer


There’s been plenty of speculation about Sidney Crosby’s progress from post-concussion syndrome in the last week (and really, since he began missing games in January), but it seems like the ultimate takeaway is that his short-term future is still unclear. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero responded by saying that Crosby hasn’t been shut down for the summer, but didn’t give any concrete time frame for the star center’s return. The general message is that the Penguins are taking a wait-and-see approach with Crosby, which is a logical train of thought considering the murky nature of concussion-related injuries. caught up with Dan Bylsma at the 2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp to try to elaborate a bit on the situation, but they didn’t get much from the Penguins coach. Beyond the industry standard direction of keeping injury updates under wraps, Bylsma also was sparse with his details because of his personal policy with players during the off-season.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will not ask Sidney Crosby how he’s feeling or how he’s progressing until he sees him in Pittsburgh when it’s time for training camp.

Crosby continues to work out in and around the Halifax, N.S. area, but he has not been cleared for contact and the Penguins aren’t sure if he’ll be ready to participate with the club when training camp opens next month.

“Especially in the summertime, I try not to get involved in this type of, ‘How are you feeling’ conversation,” Bylsma told from the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp, where he’s serving as a coach. “There are things I would normally talk about with Sid and those are the captain’s stuff like scheduling with the team. If I was to talk to him now, I wouldn’t say, ‘How do you feel today?’ I would say, ‘Where are you now?’ I would ask, ‘When are you coming to Pittsburgh?’ I would ask, ‘How many fish did you catch up in Nova Scotia?’ “

While he hasn’t broached the subject with Crosby, Bylsma was honest enough to admit that he has considered different possibilities, including his plan for training camp if Crosby is unable to attend. If nothing else, the Penguins have become accustomed to dealing with injuries to important players – and not just in last season’s especially trying times without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby also dealt with a high-ankle sprain in 2007-08, a season in which he played just 53 games but eventually helped the team make it to the 2008 Stanley Cup finals.

With that in mind, Bylsma seems prepared to roll with the punches, even if the specifics of the challenges aren’t quite clear just yet.

“I’m not the coach that will say I haven’t thought of (what it would be like if Crosby wasn’t ready for training camp), but I think our team understands and knows how we’re going to play when everyone is not healthy. Part of our success last year was just that,” Bylsma said. “For instance, we don’t think we have to have Marc-Andre Fleury in net to win the game. We’re totally comfortable and confident when Brent Johnson goes in net. We think we can win. We don’t change the way we play. We don’t say, ‘Don’t make a mistake.’ It’s the same type of deal with everyone else, and that’s how we operated last year.

“We’re going to figure out how to be a good team starting right in training camp with whatever situation we have with any of our players.”

It remains to be seen if Crosby will be one of them, so we’ll keep an eye out for updates from the team.

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.”