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Penguins notebook: Team removes Despres from blue line

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Dejan Kovacevic
Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, 2:05 p.m.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Sidney Crosby embraced his first NHL trip here in the most powerful way possible: He went for a walk in minus-2 temps.

While nearly all of the Penguins' coaching staff and his teammates took a charter bus to cover the four blocks separating their hotel from MTS Centre, Crosby went to the morning skate by walking up Portage Avenue.

“It was pretty cold,” Crosby said with a smile. “But it was pretty nice, though.”

Spoken like a good Canadian citizen.

Crosby's visit was all the buzz in town, from a headline proclaiming him “Jets Killer” across the Winnipeg Sun tabloid to a stream of TV, radio and Internet fuss.

He actually played in this arena before, in 2005 as a member of the Canadian junior team.

“I have a lot of good memories from that,” Crosby said.

Someone asked Crosby if he would have a hard time blocking out the usual noise and derision aimed at visitors by the crowds here.

His answer: “I've played in Philly.”

• Defenseman Simon Despres was scratched for the first time after a mostly sluggish first three games. Coach Dan Bylsma pushed hard to have Despres on the roster out of training camp, but he said Despres needs “more consistency in his play and his demeanor.” He did not elaborate. Despres' place was taken by Ben Lovejoy, making his season debut. “My job is to be ready when called upon,” Lovejoy said. “I try to be the best player in practice. I'm excited for the chance.”

• Tomas Vokoun was chosen to start, Bylsma said, because he preferred Marc-Andre Fleury to go Sunday in Ottawa. Vokoun has poor career marks against the Senators: 5-12 with a 3.33 goals-against average. The plan had been to use both goaltenders on the trip.

• Defenseman Deryk Engelland still had quite a shiner around his right eye, the result of a fight Wednesday with Toronto's Colton Orr, but he laughed off the notion of donning a visor: “Oh, no. Never.”

• Jets winger Evander Kane raised eyebrows — including with some national outlets in the U.S. and Canada — by reporting for the morning skate with the letters “YMCMB” etched into the hair on the back of his head. The acronym stands for “Young Money Cash Money Billionaires,” Kane confirmed, the record label of rap artist Lil Wayne.

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins Sidney Crosby plays in the Black and Gold game at Cosol Energy Center Jan. 17, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins Sidney Crosby plays in the Black and Gold game at Cosol Energy Center Jan. 17, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins defenseman Simon Despres plays in the Black and Gold game at Consol Energy Center on Jan. 16, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins defenseman Simon Despres plays in the Black and Gold game at Consol Energy Center on Jan. 16, 2013.
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