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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: March 14, 2013

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 12:34 p.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, all. Much, much ground to cover ...

TheJimmy: Dejan, I was wondering if you do anything to prepare for your chats? Any prechat rituals? Or do you just wing it?

Dejan Kovacevic: If I told you to what degree I wing both the radio show and this chat, I dare say you'd lose whatever respect you might have. So I won't!

Derek: Dejan, I was very impressed by the Pens' effort against the Bruins. Boston shut down virtually all passing lanes in the 1st and 2nd period. Sutter and the Pens stepped up big-time in the 3rd. Doesn't this show there is never a time when you can count them out?

Dejan Kovacevic: Really don't want to be the wet blanket. The Penguins did exactly what they needed to win that game, and they did it with gusto and style. But I get the sense people are conveniently ignoring that the Bruins played a game the previous night in Ottawa that went to shootout, and the Penguins were fresh. Look at the history of those games. Even underdogs win those, generally.

Again, not taking away any credit. It's just that it seems like people are attaching some romantic theme to that game that isn't fair to a really good Boston team.

Nagligence: Will the Steelers be looking for a TE to help until Heath gets back?

Dejan Kovacevic: They absolutely will, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't have been doing so, anyway. Miller will turn 31 in October. It would have been time to begin looking for additional depth there, anyway, if not an outright potential successor.

Kevin Colbert has been pretty blunt in saying he doesn't expect Miller to be ready for the open of the season, so that should tell you plenty.

South Side Saul: Any chance Ray Shero can GM both the Pirates and the Penguins?

Dejan Kovacevic: Hope you had a chance to read Joe Starkey's column in the Trib today. Funny how that whole concept of actually winning trades works.

fred huff: Whats it gonna take for Pitt to make it to the finals in the Big East tourney?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Panthers will need Tray Woodall at his absolute peak, as I wrote in yesterday's column, but they'll also need to be at their best as a rebounding team. It's obvious they aren't great shooters, not even from right underneath. But their rebounding, when it's going well, allows them the second opportunities to convert.

That puts a lot of this on Steven Adams, Dante Taylor and Talib Zanna, even if all they do is kick it back out.

Ernie: Pirates starting rotation who u got??

Dejan Kovacevic: In order: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens (clean simulated game yesterday, should be fine) and ... Kyle McPherson. The latter is beginning to separate himself a bit, certainly from Jeff Locke. How he fares today, even though it's just a spring game, could help.

RickGinPinehurst: Dejan, love your work. Couldn't agree more with your Sunday column re James Harrison and how the D will feel different with our last bad a - defender gone. Do you think there is much of a chance that after not getting offered the money he thinks he's worth, that he comes back to us? Do you sense the bridges haven't been burned?

Dejan Kovacevic: If they aren't burned in the traditional sense of abject hostility, they're burned in the sense that both parties have moved on. Bill Parise, the agent, had been taking pretty much every opportunity available to try to portray the sides as working to get together, and you could tell from his incredulous quotes after it happened that no one had let him know, hey, if it doesn't work out there, come on back.

C-man: Hey Dejan, really pumped up for Pitt's last dance at MSG! But looking at the national rankings, it appears that Pitt can only move up or down a spot from Lunardi's current 5 seed depending on how they do. Is this tourney just for bragging rights or by winning it all do they make a bid for a much higher NCAA tourney seed? And if they lose to Syracuse, could the extra rest potentially be good for their NCAA tourney chances?

Dejan Kovacevic: You know, C-man, we've seen the Panthers go into the NCAAs as a No. 1 seed and lose. We've seen them go in as Big East tourney champs and lose. We've seen them go in after getting stunned in the first round at the Garden, get all that extra rest and lose.

If anyone's a believer that anything other than good, solid team performance will mean anything in NCAAs, they're probably digging too deep.

They need to shoot better, and they need to rebound.

Yinzer in va: Dejan, A few days ago, the Trib reported that Charlie Morton is way ahead of schedule. Should there be concern that he is pushing it too hard? For his sake, I'd hate to see him reinjure himself because his comeback is too soon.

Dejan Kovacevic: Charlie's fine. He and I had a very long talk one afternoon at McKechnie a couple weeks ago, and the level of detail, the level of confidence he shared was enough to convince me he's at just the right pace. He's a smart kid.

david d: A lot of EXPERTS blame the Steelers bad season on the loss of team leaders but if the leadership was so strong why the down years after the last two Super Bowl wins?

Dejan Kovacevic: Anyone been reading up on all this stuff on the Ravens' alleged mutiny back in the early part of this past season?

This stuff almost invariably gets overblown.

The Steelers' offense wasn't very consistent or imaginative, and the defense didn't take the ball away often enough. Those are the issues they need to address.

Tim: Right now the Penguins have 8 capable defensmen, 9 counting Dylan Reese. If they trade for a big Hal Gill type who would be in the top 4 and how would the bottom pairing shake out?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Penguins need to compete for a Stanley Cup. I always hear about Gill and Rob Scuderi, but they need to think higher, aim higher. I'm looking at a possible 1-2 guy, and I'm giving the other party basically whatever they want in terms of a prospect/picks combination.

The best player in the world is back to being exactly that. The reigning MVP will be back, too. You don't mess around with that. You go for it.

Maybe they could raid the Flyers, Rangers or Capitals once ALL THREE miss the playoffs.

(Cheap, easy applause line.)

Tim: Is there any regret within the Penguins organization about demoting Mike Lange at this point?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, there is not. Lange is absolutely back atop his craft right now. His goal calls remain, in my view, the very best in the NHL business, and his descriptions of the action and his feel for what's ABOUT to happen also are unmatched.

But anyone who thinks the TV broadcasts aren't a success - and I sure do hear from a lot of you - only need to look at the scoreboard. The ratings have never been higher. That's the language that TV execs, sponsors and the teams themselves understand.

PirateApologist: What is your favorite "non-traditional" view of the city (not Mt. Washington or coming out of the tunnels, etc.)? Mine is looking towards the city (briefly) while driving over the 40th Street Bridge.

Dejan Kovacevic: This one's easy. It's way, way above city level, even though it's natural land. There's a graveyard at the very top of Spring Hill Cemetary. Here's a nighttime pic - - but it doesn't do it justice. You've got to go up there yourself. It's a really, really tough place to find, as well as a tough, swirling road to navigate, but it's worth it.

Only in Pittsburgh would we give up the best view, by the way, to a bunch of dead people.

KevNJ: stepping out of Pittsburgh sports, sorry, Did you see the play that Kobe got hurt on last night? What is your take on how cheap it was?

Dejan Kovacevic: Did not see it, sorry. Wasn't aware until reading your question.

Matt in Ann Arbor: Any news from Pitt on whether Agnus Berenato has coached her last game at Pitt? If not, talk about low expectations for a major program, especially going into the ACC.

Dejan Kovacevic: No, not yet. But I'd imagine Pitt would handle such an issue with more class than to allow something like that to sneak out.

I'm with you: Almost impossible to imagine Agnus will be back while carrying the equivalent of a three-year conference losing record into a new conference. It's an excellent time for a change.

Alex: Since you said that the Pens should be willing to give up whatever prospects another team would want for a top defenseman, does that include Beau Bennett?

Dejan Kovacevic: Bennett's in the NHL, and he's not going back. No longer a prospect. Terrific young player, though, huh?

Eric: Was the Larry Foote resigning just a depth signing or do the Steelers intend on him starting again this year? Also, the Steelers are not seriously considering signing Beanie-Wells are they? He is a less durable, injury prone version of Dwyer. I don't see them gaining anything by signing him, I would rather they draft a rb in a mid round.

Dejan Kovacevic: Foote's going to have to get camp competition at his position. Not doing so wouldn't make sense. I know he's the signal-caller and all that, but you've got to make the plays. Foote did that for about a quarter of the season, notably in a very strong opener, but he faded. That's age.

You'll see running backs brought in, but your best chance at impact is out of the draft. Not first round, but not long after that.

Guest: Did you get to see Travis Snider at all in FL? Anything to the "dripping with power" reports that preceded him here b/c he showed no power with the Pirates last year (acknowledging he had a tweaked hammy)?

Dejan Kovacevic: No. Maybe this will change, but he looks like a left-handed Matt Diaz right now and, more important, after coming over last season. Not seeing it.

No reason Jose Tabata shouldn't be the starting right fielder.

Guest: Putting aside at what point in his value he was traded - do you think the return for Hanrahan was ok after seeing some of those pieces in Camp?

Dejan Kovacevic: Put it this way: I didn't see anything to change my mind that it was purely a salary-motivated move aimed at getting another starting pitcher in the fold. In this case, that meant paying Francisco Liriano essentially Hanrahan's money, even while barely another team's name was ever breathed through the process.

Matt: Who is a top defenseman that the pens should target?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't like to toss out names without basis. Best thing to do is look at teams that are going to miss the playoffs, look at their roster status and ask yourself if they're in a position to give up one of their best D-men -- regardless of age -- for prospects and/or picks.

Ed from Longwood: Hines Ward was our Wes welker. Will the Steelers draft a tough possession receiver to fill the void?

Dejan Kovacevic: If you're asking about West Virginia's Tavon Austin - and I assume so - most experts still agree that's a reach at 17th overall. I kind of like the idea in a vacuum, but I'd hate to see the Steelers pass up a better overall player to fit a short-term fun idea.

Austin in the second round would be wonderful.

cosmo: With Winnipeg moving to the western Conference, will that affect your travel schedule for next year.

Dejan Kovacevic: No, the NHL still will have every team in one conference visiting every team in the other at least once. Only difference regarding this example is that it'll be one trip rather than two, in all likelihood.

Unless, of course, there are playoffs.

(Oh, go ahead and look at those conference standings right now.)

Guest: Biggest personal swing-and-miss evaluation with respect to a player (across any sport) who you felt would be very good at the Professional level but the talent never materialized?

Dejan Kovacevic: Over recent years, I'll got with Baron Batch of the Steelers. Total whiff. Totally different player at Latrobe and in preseason games than what we saw once the lights came on.

Lesson learned.

Dejan Kovacevic: Time for the Round of the Guy Boucher Bolts ...

cosmo: Did the Dolphins overpay to sign Mike Wallace?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, wow, yes. Of course they did. It takes no more than the simplest of math to measure the impact a big-play wide receiver has on your team overall to see that it makes no sense.

But in fairness, the Dolphins have been so nothing for so long that maybe they're sick of waiting for the other methods to pan out.

One other possibility is that they've got a ballot initiative out to the public to upgrade their stadium, and maybe a winning, attractive team on the field helps that.

You know, kind of like a team in another sport just did in that same city.

cosmo: If Pens were to aquire Iginla, do Dupuis move to 3rd line and TK to 4th or bye bye.

Dejan Kovacevic: Dupuis is the ... man, I just can't do that, though. I can't mess with what these guys -- yes, all three of them -- are getting done on that top line. It's not all about plugging in how many goals you think so-and-so will score. It really is about chemistry, about familiarity. And one legendary shift three years ago in Vancouver doesn't qualify as chemistry between Iginla and Sid. Just doesn't.

Look for a defenseman.

Guest23: Do you fill out NCAA brackets or participate in fantasy leagues?

Dejan Kovacevic: No fantasy leagues. Yes to NCAA brackets. Always. It's a blast, the whole thing.

RELENTLESS_FORECHECK: Are the Pens in a position to make a deep run this season or an early exit? I don't think the Pens have the defense or discipline to take four from a team like Boston or Montreal.

Dejan Kovacevic: I'm inclined to agree with you as it relates to Boston and as it relates to the Penguins' current roster. But much can change.

And the discipline issue might take care of itself. If you haven't heard, the Flyers might miss the playoffs.

Dom: Will Casey Hampton be back next year? If so, does he start?

Dejan Kovacevic: If Hamptom comes back at or around the minimum, yes. But starting? Man, it's really time to see what Steve McLendon's got out there. For that matter, it's time to see what Cam Heyward can do, even if that's at the expense of Brett Keisel.

Couple more today ...

Wilson: Will Tanner Glass get his 1st point as a Pen tonight?

Dejan Kovacevic: He hasn't exactly been part of the solution, either, has he? Watching Tom Kostopoulos play for the Devils last night, he got more done in that one game than Glass has for the Penguins all season. Not sure what they were thinking there, other than that maybe he doesn't "get to our game" fast enough.

david d: Are you surprised the Steelers signed Ramon Foster to such a reasonable deal? Was there a lack of outside interest? or did Foster really want to be in Pittsburgh?

Dejan Kovacevic: Funny that you ask. Spoke to Ramon just today, and he told me, plain and simple, that the Steelers made him feel wanted. He knew he'd have a place, finally.

Much more on this in Friday's notes column, which will cover the Steelers and much other ground.

Thanks to all for participating! The columns run Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The radio show is Tuesday, this here chat Thursday. The blog fills in the gaps with predictions of Baron Batch's greatness.

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