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Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript: Feb. 21, 2013

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 8:12 a.m.

Dejan Kovacevic: Afternoon, happy people ...

Kevin: Dejan, I just want to hear from someone else why the Flyers second goal should be allowed in the NHL. That wasn't hockey. Mike Knuble was lying on top of our goaltender when the puck crossed. Why should this TYPE of goal be allowed? Thanks.

Dejan Kovacevic: When the refs are so flabbergasted by the play in front of them, when they're focusing all their attention on whether or not the puck is still visible, when Tomas Vokoun is outside the crease trying to get back in and there are five Penguins already there ... in other words, on exactly that goofy play.

Strange night.

Guest: Great Sunday column on the Matt Cooke situation ... knocked them right between the eyes! At this point in the season, what are you concerns with the Penguins?

Dejan Kovacevic: Well, here's what the concerns aren't first: Goaltending isn't an issue. That was a goofy game, and Vokoun's poor showing was his first of the season. The offense is there, for the most part. The defense is there. I just wonder — and I hate to be a broken record here — if the Penguins' coaching staff can ever climb down from the mountain and lower itself to adjusting personnel, lines, strategies to fit a certain opponent.

I know it's the regular season. But the problems you saw last night — notably the Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek line skating without a checking unit on them ... that's insanity. Home coach gets the last change. But we also saw Evgeni Malkin out there regularly vs. Sean Couturier. Why?

Dan Bylsma loves his system. We get it. But other people see that, too.

Mike A.: I find this Penguins team to have all the requisite tangible criteria to be a Stanley Cup contender. But when I digest a performance like last night, I feel there is some intangible quality missing that will leave them on the sidelines come late May. Will they EVER realize they are playing Charlie Brown to the Flyers' Lucy with the football here? Don't be goaded into taking selfish penalties!!!

Dejan Kovacevic: Yep. That, too. Is there such a thing as hating an opponent too much?

NaplesDave: Hi DK, Still think it was Ok to sit MAF last night? Should Steelers keep RM & Plax if both can be had at good cap numbers? Let Wallace go to Miami for $60M. How about a safety in the first round? Thanks for the chat!!

Dejan Kovacevic: If you saw the Wednesday column, you'll notice that I actually cited reasons why it would have been perfectly logical to play Marc-Andre Fleury vs. the Flyers last night. It's in there. Take a look. The point was more general, that the Penguins will be hurting themselves in the long run by continuing to turn to Fleury at every bend.

Mendenhall and Wallace are gone. I'd love to see Plax stay. Even if another receiver is added -- and I blogged this week that Steve Breaston, just released by the Chiefs, would be a fine fit, Plax would offer something that none of the rest could. And Ben really likes him, you know.

david d: Dejan, I've read articles that have the Steelers anywhere from 10-28 million over the salary cap. Do you know the real number?

Dejan Kovacevic: The number the Trib has been reporting is $12 million, though I understand that's all over the place.

Cosmo: Olympics in Pittsburgh??? Really ??? Where would the city come up with $3 billion? Where would they build all of the facilities needed? Don't get me wrong I would love to see the Olympics in Pittsburgh but really?

Dejan Kovacevic: It's nowhere near that simple. No city anywhere, not even a London or New York, has the money or the venues to stage an Olympics. All kinds of entities are involved in both.

I went through this whole process in a meeting with Trib editors yesterday, and I can tell you I ended up with Pittsburgh having to build an entirely new stadium for track and field but using a remodeled Heinz Field (remember, it's 2024) for the ceremonies. With many of the rest, we've already got more facilities than London did. Basketball can go at the Pete, gymnastics at Consol, handball at Palumbo, etc. London had to build all of those except for the O2 Arena that was used for gymnastics.

I could do this all day. Bottom line: It could be done.

And hotels aren't an issue. We'd need roughly 10,000 more rooms, by most estimates, but rooms can be created in many different ways. Local colleges that need new dorms can time the construction for the Olympics, those rooms get used for the Games for a month, then turned over to the schools. That's how Athens did it. We have WAY more hotel rooms than Athens does.

Mr. Negative: Should Dan Bylsma get fired for resting the red hot Marc-Andre Fleury last night? Absolutely stunning to see that when you consider Fleury just had around 75 hours of rest before the puck dropped last night. Now they'll get stuck with that 4 seed hole again when they lose out to the Devils by 1 or 2 points at the end of the season.

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, I'd fire Bylsma for that.

PirateFanInNJ: In regards to those who say the Pirates should go "All in", at what point is that? To break .500? To reach the Playoffs? And if they went all in, what of the ramifications for the future? Is it worth it to break .500/make the playoffs and put yourself in a hole for the next 2-3 years, if not longer?

Dejan Kovacevic: Honestly, I'm tired of dissecting the Pirates' motives, thought processes, how hard they should or shouldn't try, etc. Bob Nutting seemed to make it pretty clear this week that, if they don't contend deep into the summer, he's going to fire people. Sounds about right.

Bernard: Nice work being several weeks ahead of the pack on the Woodley weight/effort story. My question is regarding the Steelers approach to the offseason. After watching the Ravens win the Super Bowl with an aggressive downfield passing game and generally subpar defense, does Colbert rethink attempting to retain Wallace (especially post the Miller injury as well) and taking a RB in the earlier rounds?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll assume, Bernard, you're referring to my Woodley column that ran with the Steelers' season finale. It's also worth noting that linebackers coach Keith Butler told our Mark Kaboly last fall, flat-out, that Woodley wasn't in ideal shape.

As I've written a few times now over the past few months, Woodley let down his teammates. He was their biggest disappointment. He was the guy, more than anyone, who could have made a difference if he only did more than the minimum to be prepared. But there he was again, last night on social media, interviewing Dwyane Wade as if he's some Hollywood reporter.

Really, really don't get it.

As for retaining Wallace, no, that ship will sail soon enough. The aggressive passing game is important, but Kevin Colbert will have to find a different way to address it.

Guest: So what's the dirt on the Steeler's locker room discord? Seems every time someone signs a big fat contract they get big and fat or their fingers get slippery. How can Woodley justify the fact that he got so fat he can't work out and can't stay healthy. There should be caveats in their contracts that keep them in playing condition. Is he just dumb or what?

Dejan Kovacevic: I really don't feel that way about Woodley. That's the No. 1 reason I'm mostly shaking my head at what happened with him last season. Maybe it was the money. Maybe it was complacency. Maybe it was that he turned his ankle — which has nothing to do with conditioning — and had that affect him in other ways. Again, hard to tell.

As for discord ... let me say this: There wasn't one solitary peep about discord when the games were going on. There wasn't one solitary peep about discord when Charlie Batch and a richly inspired group of Steelers stuck it to the eventual champion Ravens in Baltimore.

I find it funny, and maybe a little disingenuous, that a couple of Steelers are now talking about fractures and discord, especially in juxtaposing that with glowing comparisons to the Ravens.

Could be that's just easier to cope with than acknowledging not enough talent or effort.

JohninOshkosh: Which sporting venue, nationally or in Pittsburgh, plays the best music during play stoppage?

Dejan Kovacevic: The Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. No one else is close.

In fact, everyone else needs to forever melt down all copies of the same 4-5 songs from AC/DC, Metallica and Foghat and rejoin the rest of us in today.

Larry Zelina: Are you or anybody from Trib media covering the NFL combine?

Dejan Kovacevic: Our Alan Robinson is in Indy right now.

@rhodes21: Any chance Pitt women's BB hire Suzie McConnell-Serio after the season?

Dejan Kovacevic: I've never heard any rumbling of Suzie leaving the Bluff. And you've got to keep in mind that, unlike in the men's game, it's not necessarily a move up to go from Duquesne to Pitt on the women's side. The A-10 doesn't have a mega-power like the UConn women, but it gets enough respect to get the right seedings in the NCAA Tournament, and that's what matters most.

That said, one would think Agnus Berenato is in big trouble at Pitt. This losing streak to Big East opponents extended to 31 last night. That's just horrendous.

Sam: Dejan, Do you think Ben R. will have a little more input into Haley's offense this year? Or is the line clearly drawn between coach and player?

Dejan Kovacevic: I've never heard of any such hard line. But I also know that where Ben places that line is whether or not he can call his own plays out of the no-huddle, so that's not a consensus easily reached. Time will tell, but I remain more on the skeptical side of this relationship for now.

JamesinNYC: I don't have a problem with Hurdle getting extended...sort of like Chopped champion making good dish out of gummy worms and sea bass....but if they don't break .500 this year shouldn't management go?

Dejan Kovacevic: Absolutely, uniquivocally, yes, if you're referring to the front office. I've made no such pronouncement about Hurdle, though, so he's still a separate case for me.

JoeyBats: Hi Dejan, (love the show) I know you haven't studied the Steelers draft in so much detail yet to throw out a name for the first pick yet...LOL. But tell us this OFFENSE (WR or RB) or DEFENSE (LB) in Rd # 1 ??

Dejan Kovacevic: You know, way back before Manti Te'o's fictional girlfriend became painfully real for America, I loved the idea of adding an impact middle linebacker, both in terms of what Te'o had done at Notre Dame and in terms of the Steelers' need once Larry Foote goes. I'd still want to hear more from Te'o on his level of sanity, if you will, but that much still seems fine to me.

If you're going straight position, I'll always take the wide receiver over the back in the first round. You've got to go straight tools, and receivers would be more predictable in that regard.

Dejan Kovacevic: OK, we have a legit Tampa Bay Lightning round now, with actual Bolts passing through town this weekend. Short Qs, short As ...

Guest: Do the players like Neal Huntington? Is he a personable guy?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'll say it again: Tired of this stuff. Let them win, or let them get fired. Period.

Jack Splat: For cap reasons cut Woodley, play Worilds. Use cap savings to keep Lewis and Harrison. Good/bad idea?

Dejan Kovacevic: People who know the cap swear that cutting Woodley wouldn't have much impact on the cap, at least not next season. Doesn't matter. Not going to happen. He's an elite talent when he's in shape. Seems like that should be doable.

Huke: Wayne Simmonds sure would look good in a Pens uniform. Any chance the Pens make a move for a power forward type like Ryan Malone ?

Dejan Kovacevic: Funny, I was thinking something very similar when watching the Jets' Blake Wheeler in Winnipeg. Thoroughly underappreciated terrific winger who can play left or right side. That's not suggesting he's available, just that he's the kind of guy I think might be a perfect fit.

Or it could be Beau Bennett. How will we know if he's on a checking line?

Ralph Lauren: Did you loan Antonio Brown that hat for his interview?

Dejan Kovacevic: I take the Fifth, your honor.

Jester: As great of a coach as he is, do you think Dixon reached his celing with the Young/Blair/Fields teams?

Dejan Kovacevic: Two separate discussions there between Jamie the coach and Jamie the recruiter. I'd say, in the case of this team, the recruiter has outdone the coach. Still so few answers apparent for this team, which clearly has talent and depth.

Might help if someone, anyone looked capable of hitting shots consistently.

The Real Drew: Since you're 6-2 and can't stand up while curling, what should be the average height of a curler? And did you re-injure your back in that 90 minutes?

Dejan Kovacevic: The gentleman instructing me in Winnipeg for that Monday column simply said the shorter the better. It's one reason, he added, women can be more in control of their body motion and the rock than men.

And no, the back's been 100 percent for a long time now. Thanks for asking.

Dom: Are the Pens/Flyers rivalry the best in the NHL?

Dejan Kovacevic: Nothing else is close. In fact, now that some of the Steelers have taken to becoming Ravens fans, I'd say there might not be anything else in sports that matches it.

Ernie: Who u got for the pirates 3-5 in there starting rotation?

Dejan Kovacevic: McDonald, Karstens and Sanchez until Liriano shows he's healthy.

JoeyBats: Thanks DK! Kevin Minter @ LSU is also suppossed to be a killer MLB.

Dejan Kovacevic: Imagine two of those, with the strides taken by Lawrence Timmons last season. Could change the whole look and feel of the 3-4.

Jester: Is Paul Chryst as genuine as it seems in his interviews?

Dejan Kovacevic: Totally real. What you see is what you get. He's got a long way to go to turn Pitt football into any level of contender, but yeah, he's the genuine article.

Guest: Duquesne women's hoops. The two heartbreaking losses leave the resume lacking. Could they be snubbed an NCAA berth?

Dejan Kovacevic: Yes, they still could miss out. I wouldn't see the Dukes right now as any higher than a 10 seed in any bracket, and all it would take is some early exit from the A-10 tournament, and they're right back in the WNIT.

For those who don't know, the Duquesne women are trying to get into NCAAs for the first time.

todd a grow: Steve Adams going pro after this year?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't believe so. And infinitely more important than that, Adams really doesn't sound like he believes so.

Jester: Do the Pens have enough sandpaper for a long playoff run?

Dejan Kovacevic: No, they don't. Becoming clearer by the day. A little more size wouldn't hurt, either.

Rob: Really enjoyed the curling piece. Are you interested in starting up a league in the Burgh?

Dejan Kovacevic: There's already a Pittsburgh Curling Club that operates on Neville Island. Check them out.

Guest: Ovie — done? If it was baseball, wouldn't there be a PED discussion?

Dejan Kovacevic: There would.

Guest: Do you believe the Penguins will make a major move (top 6 forward/top 4 d) before the trade deadline?

Dejan Kovacevic: I'd say the D-man still looks more likely, but only because I know they're going to give Bennett a legit look. Maybe even on the top two lines at some point.

Guest: Would you deal a package including Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco for an impact major league bat?

Dejan Kovacevic: If I'm 16 games over .500 in July and I haven't won in 20 years and I trust that the scout who brought me those two prospects out of Latin America can find me more, the answer is an overwhelming hell yeah.

JamesinNYC: You catch flack for having your wife so small in the picture?

Dejan Kovacevic: Behave!

Guest: Reports have Gaby Sanchez hitting bombs in FL — best BP hitter (whose prowess didn't translate into the actual game) that you ever laid eyes on?

Dejan Kovacevic: Jose Bautista. He was tremendous, and I recall writing about that at the time.

Fuchick: Do u think pitt football will ever be able to bring in a top 5 recruiting class?

Dejan Kovacevic: Seems immensely unlikely given the pull SEC schools have anymore. Getting crazy, actually, if you look at what just happened at Ole Miss.

Couple more today ...

Guest: APB — whatever happened to Frank Coonelly? Didn't he used to be much more front and center?

Dejan Kovacevic: I don't care. Let him win, or let him get fired.

Jandy: You are the head coach for the Pens. After last night's debacle, what is your first move to correct the issues that recurred in the game with your players?

Dejan Kovacevic: Right now, not much of anything. They have two very different types of games coming up this weekend against the two Florida teams. But I'm most definitely going over every sliver of that video to prepare for facing the Flyers down the road. (They will make the playoffs, yes.) And I'm asking myself, in particular, about how Peter Laviolette so often got his desired matchups in an enemy rink. And I'm asking myself how smart that is.

Dejan Kovacevic: That's all for this week. The column now runs four days a week: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and the Friday notes. The radio show is Tuesday, the chat Thursday. Also, visit the blog for more hijinx. It never sleeps.I'll be in Bradenton for next week's chat and for a few days beyond that.Thank you for participating.

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