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Familiar Penguins faces say goodbye via free agency

| Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 8:57 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Matt Niskanen plays against the Blue Jackets in Game 1 during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. Niskanen signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Brooks Orpik plays against the Sharks, on Dec. 5, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. Orpik signed a five-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jussi Jokkinen skates against the Devils on Thurday, Oct. 3, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. Jokinen signed a four-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Defenseman Deryk Engelland signed a three-year contract with the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Joe Vitale takes the puck into the Canadiens' zone during first-period action on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. Vitale signed a three-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Tanner Glass fights off the Devils' Jaromir Jagr in the first period on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 at Consol Energy Center. Glass signed a three-year contract with the New York Rangers on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

The Penguins' overhaul continued Tuesday when they lost six players in free agency.

Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik left for division rival Washington, while left wing Tanner Glass signed with the division-rival New York Rangers.

Forward Jussi Jokinen went to Florida, while center Joe Vitale went to Arizona and defenseman Deryk Engelland went home to Alberta with the Calgary Flames.

When it was over, the six players had been signed to $100.1 million worth of contracts.

“Guess things are going to look a little different in Pittsburgh,” Glass said.

Following the firings of general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins wanted to become more physical. But they lost some of their most physical players.

Orpik's style was always an exception than the rule on a team that has displayed more finesse than force. Glass and Engelland are willing fighters. Vitale was one of the Penguins' biggest hitters.

They're all gone.

“I'm just glad I'm going to a good team,” said Glass, who signed for three years with the Rangers. “When you get past 30 like I am, you start thinking about how many years left, and you start thinking about winning a Stanley Cup.”

Glass thought he would have such an opportunity with the Penguins when he signed in 2012.

“Unfortunately things never worked out so well in the playoffs for us,” he said.”

Glass remains bitter he was made a healthy scratch during his two postseasons with the Penguins.

“It absolutely left a bad taste in my mouth,” he said.”

Niskanen and Orpik were courted by former Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden, now with the Capitals. Reirden's influence — and about $68 million — was enough to entice them.

Niskanen, in particular, has a strong relationship with Reirden.

“Coaching is important to Matt, and he has a lot of trust in Todd,” said Neil Sheehy, Niskanen's agent.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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