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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: March 28, 2013

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 1:06 p.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hey, all. What a crazy dozen hours, huh? Away we go ...

Comment From scapper: Any truth to the rumor that Ray Shero is close to landing Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in exchange for Dana Heinze?

Dejan Kovacevic: Equipment manager? Sure, why not? But the Wings might have to throw in a pick.

Comment From Naterosboro: Now that it's “Cup or Bust” for the Penguins, do you think the added pressure will wilt this team or will they rise to the occasion (PREDICTION TIME!)?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't think anyone would dispute that it's Cup or bust right now. I just came back from the Penguins' skate, and after talking with some of the athletes — Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Craig Adams — the awareness of the expectations is keen but not overwhelming. As Sid just said, “We've had high expectations here every year.”

Comment From jriggi87: A lot of times you see teams get loaded up like an allstar roster kind of like the PENS are now, and everyone says they win the cup and then they get upset in the 1st round of the playoffs! Does this happen with this team?

Dejan Kovacevic: Man, didn't take long for the giddiness in town to disintegrate into fear, did it?

The Penguins just acquired Jarome Iginla. That's not a bad thing.

Comment From Cautiously Excited: So many Crosby the admiral now?

Dejan Kovacevic: He is not. He's the captain. We talked about that very briefly, too, and he seems genuinely enthusiastic to have the intangibles Iginla and Brenden Morrow can bring. But make no mistake: This is Crosby's team. He knows it, and everyone in that room knows it.

Comment From Adam: Not saying this trade wasn't worth a shot (it was), but will it even matter if (a) Letang can't get healthy and (b) Malkin can't get back into the lineup in time to hash out the top three lines?

Dejan Kovacevic: Kris Letang has a toe injury. Not a big deal. Malkin skated on the second line this morning, then said afterward he might go tonight against Winnipeg. Fleury told me he was feeling a lot better, too.

These aren't major things.

Comment From jriggi87: I find it hard to believe but a lot of PENS fans dont want to break up the top line because of “chemistry”. while you have to give a lot of credit to Duper and especially Kunitz this year, I think a Monkey could score at least 5 goals on Sid's wing in a full Season. So anyway we dont see 87 & 12, and thoughts on Chemistry??

Dejan Kovacevic: Pascal Dupuis should be left right where he is, if you ask me. He's earned it, and then some. As I wrote on the blog very early this morning, I'd move Chris Kunitz back with Malkin and Neal, as they were last year, move Morrow back to third or fourth line.

Comment From Tim: Do you feel like they gave up more for Morrow than Iginla?

Dejan Kovacevic: Oh, without question. There's no doubt in my mind Calgary GM Jay Feaster was forced to take the far lesser offer even compared to what he was going to get from Boston. But you don't have much of a choice when a player has a no-trade clause. That's why GMs in any sport really hate giving those out.

Comment From Alan Gifford: Your favorite Pittsburgh athlete of all time to cover?

Dejan Kovacevic: How could it not be 66?

Comment From danno: I would take a top pairing D before I was completely comfortable with this team in the postseason. They have the cap space/prospects for it? Your thoughts, does it happen?

Dejan Kovacevic: They aren't out there, Danno. Been writing that for a couple weeks now, and you still don't hear a single top-two name come up anywhere around the league. Teams just aren't giving them up, and there aren't any rentals in that mold.

Comment From Guest: DK, How important do you think it is that the Penguins didn't give up any of the NHL guys in any of the trades this week?

Dejan Kovacevic: Given the number of guys being pushed off the roster's edge right now, I'd imagine it's not that big a deal in the short term, but it'll help in the longer. Really, the bigger issue here is that Shero got Iginla and Morrow for a shaky D prospect in Joe Morrow, two other prospects not in their top 10, and a first-round pick that will wind up somewhere in the No. 28-30 overall range.

That's just criminal.

Comment From Louis in Michigan: What can you speak to the rumors that if Ray Shero has $5 and I have $5, Ray Shero has more $ than me?

Dejan Kovacevic: You're out of luck, man.

Comment From Guest23: Is the Calgary ownership sending a message to the Boston owner or are they fulfilling JI's personal request. Not sure why they got so little for him. Not the normal MO for deadline trade transaction.

Dejan Kovacevic: Certainly has been a lot of talk about Jeremy Jacobs, the Bruins' owner who became — rightly — very unpopular during the lockout. Not sure I buy it. While it has to be a positive that Iginla not only knows Mario Lemieux but also was his teammate on the 2002 Canadian gold-medal Olympic team, there's no part of me that can imagine Iginla making the decision of his life based even remotely on a guy he might not have liked during a labor dispute. That's a silly reach.

Comment From Dave in Orlando: Can Ray Shero convince Shell to stay at Pitt, Hurdle to stop bunting, Haley to go over the top and Dixon to “let them play?”

Dejan Kovacevic: Only after he parts the Mon.

My goodness, has there ever been a more popular GM in this town than Shero?

Comment From TJ: DK whats the next move that Shero makes? Only so many roster spots to go around.

Dejan Kovacevic: In all honesty, I think he's done. I won't keep pounding this, but suffice it to say that the team that's won 13 games in a row without any additions and without Malkin and Letang, for the most part ... that team doesn't exactly deserve to be blown up.

More on this in the column tomorrow.

Comment From Rob: How surprised were the Pens about the news or did they have an inkling?

Dejan Kovacevic: Most of them were sleeping, which is kind of what you'd want the night before a game-day skate. Sid told me he found out about the news via text after waking up this morning, said he had no idea before that. Fleury said he slept right through it. Only guy I could find who was up was Neal, who's a bit of a night owl.

Comment From jzpenguin: “I think that trading prospects for an impact player is a bad idea” - Neal Huntington

Dejan Kovacevic: Been getting these from readers all day. There is no comparing the people who run the Penguins and those who run the Pirates in any walk of life. None. Zero.

Comment From Damon: Dan Bylsma just said he plans on keeping 87-9-14 together, does that mean Iginla is now a third liner?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, Bylsma did, but there's also very much a sense today at Consol that things are fluid. What you see right off the bat might not be what you see down the road, even a week from now. All concerned have made that very clear.

Regardless, Morrow is the odd man out.

Comment From ji12: Now all that's left is to bring back Lemieux...

Dejan Kovacevic: Not happening. Talked with 66 for a bit the other night, though, and I can pass along that he's doing quite well in all regards. Given his history, always good to hear.

Comment From Drews Wifes Poodle: Number of wins for the Pirates? That's the ML baseball team here, BTW.

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll have that for the Monday column, the morning of the opener.

Dejan Kovacevic: Hey, guys, right now NHL Network is going to air Iginla's farewell press conference in Calgary live. I'd put that on.

Comment From Playoffs by 2012: Penguins current roster looks an awful lot like the ‘03-'04 Los Angeles Lakers roster. Agree or disagree?

Dejan Kovacevic: Have heard all kinds of fun parallels this morning, not least of which is the current Heat. (That's Miami's NBA team.) That one kind of makes sense because the pieces elected to come here.

Comment From Mike P: Which acquisition will have the biggest impact on the ice when we look back at the 2013 Penguins?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll stand by Tomas Vokoun, if only because a) he represents the best chance to have Fleury going into the playoffs healthy and fresh and b) because he kicked everyone's rear end that night in Philly, when the Penguins needed it most.

Don't care how much talent you've got up front, you aren't going far in the playoffs without goaltending.

Comment From Ken: If Ray Shero has $10 and Omar Khan has $10, who has more money?

Dejan Kovacevic: Omar, because he can always borrow from Ben. Trick question.

Comment From Guest: Bigger trade..Hossa or Iginla??...Giving the timing of both deals and the position the Pens were/are in?

Dejan Kovacevic: Very different. Hossa came in his prime, but Iginla comes as a civic treasure. I think you're about to get a sense for that in this press conference.

Comment From Pierogi Race Riot: Are Flames fans more likely to be suicidal or to say, “Thanks for the memories, Jarome. Go Pens.”

Dejan Kovacevic: It's more the latter, from what I gather in the Calgary public prints today. But we'll see. It might not have dawned on Flames fans just yet how little they got.

Comment From Dan-a-mite: Kevin Colbert used to be popular.

Dejan Kovacevic: He did, but in more of a diehard-fan way. Colbert's always been such a behind-the-scenes guy for the Steelers. And besides, the coach wields more power in that equation.

Shero's in total command of the Penguins. Even the locker room.

Comment From James_Indiana: How popular will Ray Shero be when the Penguins lose in the playoffs?

Dejan Kovacevic: Significantly less.

Dejan Kovacevic: Let me try to squeeze in Qs on some other topics for a bit. We can revisit Iginla later in the chat ...

Comment From DMFH: I guess I'll be the first guy to throw a non hockey question in the ring... Why all the faith in Travis Snider? Is his ceiling higher than Tabata's or something? Also, are you looking for Gaby Sanchez to have a big year?

Dejan Kovacevic: No idea on Snider. He did nothing to deserve being anointed the starting right fielder by the Pirates, no matter what you'd think of Jose Tabata or Alex Presley. Snider, to me, looks like a left-handed Matt Diaz with all that soft contact.

But we'll see. Season hasn't even started yet.

Comment From Dave in Ross: Are you going to cover the Pirate opener?

Dejan Kovacevic: No. Monday is a day off. I will write Pirates for my Monday and Wednesday columns next week, though.

Comment From Stuck in Ohio: Any further updates (or reasons) on the Shell thing? Seems odd he recruited so many players to be with him and now might want out.

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, if you saw the statement Paul Chryst issued within the past hour, it's pretty clear that whatever's up with Shell has to do with something other than football. Sounds to me, reading between the lines, like Pitt has a handle on it. Check out our site, and you'll find it.

Comment From Tyler: you said in a tweet when everyone thought the Bruins nabbed Iginla that the hockey fan in you was sad to see him leave Calgary. Still hold true now?

Dejan Kovacevic: Absolutely. Why would that sentiment change?

I'm a sucker for great athletes staying with one team their whole career.

Comment From Guest23: Do players ever talk to you off the record about things they may have read on your twitter account or blog? Or are they like actors who always claim they don't pay attention to the internet?

Dejan Kovacevic: All the time. Most of them read everything. But that's why I'm out there in the locker rooms and clubhouses every day. I'm accountable. If they have something to say, I'm there to hear it. Part of the job.

Comment From TRW: How would you like to be the Winnipeg Jets tonight?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Jets have no chance of losing focus tonight. Every point is precious for them, given the playoff chase and their spot atop the Southeast. Doesn't mean the Jets won't lose. They've played horribly at Consol, giving up eight goals in both of their last two games here. But I don't see them getting all distracted by the Iginla stuff.

The team that might be impacted by this more directly is the Islanders, the next opponent Saturday, because that might be Iginla's Pittsburgh debut.

Comment From Jandy: Who are you rooting for tonight? Pens or Pegs?

Dejan Kovacevic: Reporters don't root.

Comment From TJ: Any word on Bradshaw's visit with the Steelers today?

Dejan Kovacevic: Not yet, but the Trib is staffing it. Alan Robinson, our beat man, is on it.

Comment From John: If the pens traded for Iginla first, do they trade for Morrow considering what they had to give up?

Dejan Kovacevic: Hm. Good question. I'd have to imagine not, but then Morrow is another type of player Shero wanted regardless, so we can't be sure.

Comment From Dave in Ross: Will The Bucco's EVER get a top flight management team? Mr. Nutting doesn't exactly instill or inspire optimism.

Dejan Kovacevic: Regardless of what Nutting does or doesn't inspire, the key is hiring the right people. His preferred method is to not be a hands-on guy. That only works if you can trust the people under you.

Comment From UTEZ7: Ahmad Bradshaw, girly little ankles and feet...why sign him instead of focusing on the draft and bringing it guys who don't break as often as Byron Leftwich?

Dejan Kovacevic: No idea what girly little ankles is supposed to mean, other than sounding petulant and chauvinistic. But Bradshaw definitely has had issues with both feet, and that'll be the biggest concern in signing him. Especially if he's unable to work out today on the South Side.

Comment From Dan-a-mite: Are you the hardest working man in the business?

Dejan Kovacevic: That title goes, at every paper anywhere, to the baseball beat writer. No job like it.

Comment From Thundercrack: Even though you are not covering the Pirate home opener, will you be attending the game

Dejan Kovacevic: Yeah, I go to a good number of games on non-column days just to keep pace with the team. Sometimes, it actually helps because you can focus more on the game and less on what you're typing. I'll be up in the press box.

Comment From Matt: “Dejan Kovacevic: Reporters don't root.” You are a “columnist” so who are you rooting for?

Dejan Kovacevic: Let me try it again: Journalists don't root. There's no rooting in this business. None.

I really hate how much that surprises people.

Comment From Guest23: If I was a reporter, I would root. Reporter decorum be damned. I couldn't help but root for people I personally knew. I see no issues with reporters personally pulling for a politician's agenda. Doesn't mean you can't be objective. Spouses both love and criticize each other all the time.

Dejan Kovacevic: Then you would not be a reporter. Or if you were, you'd be an unemployed reporter before long.

Comment From TiM: Do you have faith in the Pirates' 4th and 5th starters until Morton and Liriano come back from injury?

Dejan Kovacevic: I do not. And I wonder about James McDonald, too. The rotation looks very iffy right now.

Comment From Guest: Unless he was a reporter in Philly.

Dejan Kovacevic: False. My colleagues who cover the Flyers are total pros.

Comment From Alan Gifford: Iginla seems very down to earth in his presser.

Dejan Kovacevic: Sure does, doesn't he? Really composed under the circumstance. Impressive.

I've dealt with Iginla on a few occasions, including two one-on-ones up in Calgary. Can't say enough good things about him from that tiny sample.

Comment From Guest: The guys printing “Sniveling Sidney” are total pros?

Dejan Kovacevic: That was the paper's editors, not the writers.

Comment From Rick: It will be interesting to hear Don Cherry talk about this trade.

Dejan Kovacevic: Why?

Comment From diehard: Your take on the Bucs' pitching in pretty clear. Any read on the player attitudes as far as the position players goes? Will we actually break the top ten in ANY offensive category for once?

Dejan Kovacevic: I would say the feeling in Bradenton was that the lineup could be good if — repeat after me — Pedro Alvarez does what everyone thinks he can do. It still won't be a great on-base team, nor super-fast, so it's going to need repeats in the home run category from Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones.

Comment From Adam: So editors can root?

Dejan Kovacevic: There isn't always a great understanding between news and sports sides at papers. The news people don't cover sports and thus don't really always think about the implications and damage that gets done by stuff like that.

Dejan Kovacevic: That's all I've got today. Much, much more in tomorrow's Trib.

The columns run Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The radio show is Tuesday, the chat Thursday. And the blog, as was proven again overnight, never sleeps.

Thanks for participating!

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