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Kovacevic: Beau should know it's his time

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 11:43 p.m.
Penguins forward Beau Bennett plays in the Black and Gold game at Consol Energy Center Jan. 16, 2013. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Brief and to the Point ...

Beau Bennett might not sizzle in his NHL debut here Friday night. It wouldn't be fair to expect that, anyway. The Penguins' prized prospect is still a baby-faced 21-year-old, he's played only 35 pro games, and, really, he wasn't a mega-scorer in college or in the minors.

Besides, there won't be a whole lot of anything sizzling in this town with forecasts calling for a wind chill well below zero.

Getting hot can be a relative concept, you know.

At the same time, know this: The Penguins will give Bennett every chance to do exactly that, based on conversations this week with team executives.

If it takes just a couple shifts Friday against the Jets, great.

If it takes a couple weeks, even the couple months between now and the April 3 NHL trade deadline, that's fine, too.

He's the Penguins' guy.

He won't be just another cameo winger, whether he winds up with Sidney Crosby - my choice - or Evgeni Malkin.

If you need proof, Ray Shero currently isn't pursuing that type of player in a trade. No, not even the Maple Leafs' Nikolai Kulemin, despite the buzz out of Toronto. Kulemin is intriguing. He and Malkin were linemates in Russia's KHL. But no talks means no talks.

I like Bennett's chances. He's never been one to play in traffic, but he's got soft hands, he can dangle, and he's sharp. People I trust say he'll find the net.

For now, Shero's taking the right path. If this position is shored up, he can use the deadline to bolster the blue line.

• Just-for-fun Q: Bill James, godfather of baseball's modern metrics, compiles an intricate - and broadly cited - defensive stat called Runs Saved. Name the only current member of the Pirates to rank among the top five or bottom five in the majors at his full-time position in 2012.

Answer at end.

• Speaking of prized prospects: Don't know how much more transparent the Pirates can make it that their plan is to call up Gerrit Cole by midseason.

One would hope that, whenever such a move is made, it's made for the right reasons.

• Can anyone help Claude Giroux find that baton Crosby allegedly passed to him?

The Flyers' captain has been held without a point in eight of 14 games and, overall, has just three goals and five assists.

• Without explanation, LaMarr Woodley tweeted out a link the other night to a November video interview he gave to the website PursuitOfGame.com.

Couldn't help but click.

Among the gems uncovered ...

"When I'm done playing, I want to be legendary."

"You always talk about people getting big contracts or this or that, but they don't talk about that when you're out of the league. They talk about those heads that are in the Hall of Fame in Canton. I want to be one of those.

"I don't want to be the best outside linebacker who ever played. I want to be the best linebacker. I want to be up there with the Lawrence Taylors."

No snark here. I hope he means it. He's a far, far better player than he showed in 2012.

• By the time the draft and other dust settles, the only big name the Steelers will have let go is Casey Hampton.

• Some of what's made Suzie McConnell-Serio special through a brilliant athletic and coaching career is that she's always looked beyond the easy. That dates to her playing days, when she was schooling the boys in summer leagues.

Loved her answer this week when I asked if one goal of her 19-5 Duquesne team is to crack The AP Top 25. The Dukes had five votes last week and need about 40.

"Not really," she replied. "I know people follow that, look at it, it's nice for recognition. But our goal is to be considered for the NCAA Tournament. That's it."

That would be a program first.

• If Pitt matures enough to make a March run, it'll be because Lamar Patterson rises to a new level. He is Jamie Dixon's best hope of putting some motion into a mostly static offense.

• Just-for-fun answer: Russell Martin, signed by the Pirates for $17 million mostly for his defense, was the fifth-worst defensive catcher in baseball with a minus-6 rating.

The worst?

Rod Barajas, minus-12.

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