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Staal's living arrangements may change with Recchi's departure

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jordan Staal has spent most of the past two seasons as a guest at Mark Recchi's home in suburban Pittsburgh.

Recchi was claimed off re-entry waivers Saturday by Atlanta, and while Staal is thrilled that his landlord found another NHL job, he is less certain what will become of the living arrangement.

"He wants me to stay. But I do not know how it will work out," Staal said. "If it does not work out, maybe I will get my own place."

General manager Ray Shero said the decision for Staal to stay with Recchi or venture on his own would be left to Staal.

"I have not really thought about it," Shero said. "Mark and (wife) Alexa are great people. It has been a good situation so far, and that is really a personal choice between Jordan and the Recchi family.

"I have been appreciative of their hospitality."

Though 20 years Recchi's junior, Staal grew close to the Penguins' former alternate captain. Staal said the events of this past week have been difficult to watch, even from afar with the Penguins playing in Western Canada and Recchi remaining in Pittsburgh.

"He did not drag anybody into this," Staal said of Recchi. "He was thinking more of (the Penguins) than anything.

"The way he handled it was really professional, and I hope the best for him."

Hard-knock life

Coach Michel Therrien and his Vancouver counterpart, Alain Vigneault, share more than the honor of being finalists for the Jack Adams Award last season -- won by Vigneault.

Of course, perhaps they were able to turn in such fine coaching performances in 2006-07 because of the experience they gained from presiding over the Montreal Canadiens in previous coaching stints.

"It is like going to Harvard University," Therrien said of coaching Montreal's storied hockey club. "You learn a lot."

Therrien coached Montreal for parts of three seasons from 2000-2003. Vigneault preceded him, leading the Canadiens for parts of four seasons from 1997-2000.

Therrien is from Montreal, and Vigneault was born in Quebec City. For them, coaching the Canadiens was a dream job similar to Crafton-born Bill Cowher running the Steelers -- except with a lot more pressure.

"You learn to deal with that," Therrien said. "You also learn to deal with the fans and the media.

"But it was a great experience for us, and we became better coaches."

All in good fun

Defenseman Ryan Whitney wants Pittsburgh to know he loves his hockey hometown and the passion of its fans. But his football heart belongs to the New England Patriots.

In fairness, Whitney is a Boston native, and the Patriots are the closest that city comes to knowing the NFL.

Whitney is confident the Patriots will remain undefeated after their game with the Steelers today, but maybe a little less confident than a few weeks ago.

"They have to lose sooner or later, right?" Whitney said. "That is what everybody says. We will see."

Around the boards

The Penguins will not practice today. They stayed in Vancouver last night and were scheduled to leave for Philadelphia today, with a brief stop in Pittsburgh to clear customs. The Penguins will wrap this four-game road trip Tuesday against the Flyers. ... Emergency goaltender Ty Conklin was recalled Friday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton due to Marc-Andre Fleury's sprained right ankle. However, he did not arrive in Vancouver until yesterday morning due to weather-caused travel problems.

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