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Rossi: Having a quasi go with a go-to guy

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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.

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011

Reporters have bad plays, too.

That was the explanation from this beat reporter to Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, usually the club's most dependable postgame quote, during a chat after Wednesday's morning practice in Montreal.

Orpik, laying on the training table outside the visitor's dressing room at Bell Centre, had made it clear he was not pleased with very specific wording from the story off the Penguins' 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

The paragraphs with which Orpik took issue:

"A two-goal lead is the worst thing in hockey," Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek said.

Think so?

How about two late penalties taken by defensive-minded players, each wearing an "A" to signify their status as an alternate captain?

One of those penalties was taken by Orpik — a boarding minor against Boston's Blake Wheeler. The call was suspect, as Wheeler turned into Orpik near the boards, but the penalty placed the Penguins shorthanded late in the third period while protecting a two-goal advantage.

The Bruins scored on that power play to pull within 2-1, and collapse soon followed.

It was an uncharacteristic poor spot for Orpik, who coach Dan Bylsma correctly noted Saturday before a rematch at Boston has proven himself one of the Penguins' most consistent performers this season.

On Wednesday morning, though, Orpik seemed as irked about the wording of a paragraph as he was the boarding minor against him.

"What does wearing a letter having anything to do with it?" he said, referring to the two late penalties in Monday's game by him and fellow alternate captain Jordan Staal.

That question forced this reporter to pause. Not until that moment had the sentence, constructed on a tight deadline Monday night, seemed like a possible low blow, maybe a cheap shot.

Orpik was informed that stab at his expense wasn't the intention of the sentence. He seemed unaffected by the acknowledgement.

Several seconds of silence passed, until this beat reporter explained himself the only way he knew how.

"Ever have a play you'd like to have back?" Orpik was asked.

While stretching out his hips, he turned his head and nodded.

"Well, reporters have bad plays too."

That thought ended the conversation. As days in a reporter's life go, it was time to move on.

Rob Rossi, in his fourth season covering the Penguins, shares some of the scenes unique to a traveling beat reporter.

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