Share This Page

First-year coach takes Baby Penguins to task

Five weeks into the season, it's become clear that first-year Baby Pens coach John Hynes is more of a stern taskmaster than either of his two predecessors in Wilkes-Barre, Dan Bylsma and Todd Reirden.

Even though the team is off to a 10-1 start, his practices have been fairly long and intense.

During one recent skate, he stopped practice to chew out winger Eric Tangradi for failing to complete a drill, then made the Penguins' top prospect skate the length of the ice twice before the workout resumed.

"Whether we were 5-5 or 6-4 or 10-1, it's about getting better. We want to make sure we make every player here better as the year goes on," Hynes said. "To do that, you have to put the work in in practice and in the weight room on a regular basis."

Captain Craig

Veteran forward Ryan Craig was named 17th captain in Baby Pens history Thursday.

Craig, 28, has 184 games of NHL experience with Tampa Bay and has previously captained the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League and Springfield and Norfolk in the AHL.

"He's got a maturity about him. Not just that he's a very good player, but he understands the dynamic of how a team works and the dynamic of a season and what it takes to be a consistent professional," Hynes said.

Tim Wallace and Andrew Hutchinson are the alternate captains. Brett Sterling and Nick Johnson will fill in when the three permanent captains aren't in the lineup.

Plus and minus

Second-year pros Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait continue to dazzle as the top defensive pair in Wilkes-Barre. They each carried a plus-9 rating into this weekend, good for a tie for second on the AHL plus-minus leaderboard.

They were on the ice as a pair for just two of the first 18 even-strength goals the Baby Pens allowed this season.

On the flip side, veteran offensive defenseman Steve Wagner was on the ice for 12 of those 18 goals.

Always up

A little-known fact about speedy 5-foot-8 winger Chris Conner, who was called up from Wilkes-Barre when a flu bug swept through the Penguins' locker room last week: He's played in the NHL for at least eight games in each of his four previous pro seasons. Two years ago, he even spent about half the season with the Dallas Stars, posting three goals and 13 points in 38 games.

Additional Information:

One to watch

Ben Hanowski

St. Cloud State (NCAA) - Winger

6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Sophomore Ben Hanowski, a third-round pick in the 2009 NHL draft, scored his first career hat trick in St. Cloud State's 6-3 win over Bemidji State last Friday night.

Hanowski, who probably represents the Penguins' best chance to develop a homegrown sniper in the near future, leads the Huskies with five goals in nine games, which puts him on pace to more than double his total of nine goals in 43 games as a freshman last year.

Hanowski is best known for the ridiculous numbers he put up as a Minnesota high school star, recording 196 goals and 405 points in 117 games.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.