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Penguins' Tangradi sent to ECHL

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By Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010

Arron Asham's bum shoulder forced fellow Penguins winger Eric Tangradi to spend Wednesday night trying to calm down confused relatives in Philadelphia.

Asham, considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury, might not be available to play for the Penguins tonight against Philadelphia in the first NHL regular-season game at Consol Energy Center.

The unknown nature of his status forced the Penguins to assign Tangradi, their top forward prospect, to Wheeling of the ECHL.

Tangradi, who must travel to Wheeling, can be recalled today and play tonight for the Penguins, who set their 23-man roster by yesterday's 3 p.m. deadline without him. Goalie Patrick Killeen was recalled from Wheeling in another surprise move.

Several members of Penguins management declined comment about the moves. A member of the media relations staff said via text message that the moves would be addressed today.

Asham has not practiced since he was injured last Friday early in an exhibition game at Chicago.

Tangradi did not need to clear waivers for a minor-league assignment. He spent the past three days working on a line with center Mike Comrie and right wing Evgeni Malkin and practicing on the second power-play unit.

"My family is coming in, it will be special for everyone," he said yesterday afternoon. "It's like a Hollywood script. I couldn't picture it any other way than playing against the team I grew up watching."

The reasoning behind Killeen's recall is puzzling.

Starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and backup Brent Johnson each practiced. Agents for both goaltenders said they were not aware of any injury or illness concerns for either player.

The Penguins are under the NHL's $59.4 million salary cap, and injured center Jordan Staal's $4 million hit doesn't count because he was placed on the injured non-roster list.

Before the late-afternoon moves, the big news of yesterday was the Penguins' decision to return top defenseman prospect Simon Despres to his junior club, Saint John.

Despres, 19, had impressed in camp, but coach Dan Bylsma said not enough minutes were available for him and that staying with the Penguins could stunt his development.

'A' in advance

Staal is out indefinitely as he recovers from several right-foot surgeries, Bylsma still designated him an alternate captain.

Center Sidney Crosby is the captain and Malkin is a full-time alternate captain. Staal and defenseman Brooks Orpik, the longest tenured Penguin, will share the other "A," with one wearing it during home games and the other on the road.

Around the boards

The Penguins will make a red-carpet entrance today between 4:15 and 5 p.m. at the American Eagle Gate at Consol Energy Center. ... Fans without tickets may remain in that area, as the team will televise the game on the outdoor big screen. ... Fans entering Consol Energy Center tonight will receive commemorative tickets created by Wendell August Forge, which is presented by Trib Total Media. ... The Penguins are asking fans to be in their seats no later than 6:45 p.m. for a special pregame ceremony. ...Comcast digital cable customers can take advantage of a free NHL Center Ice preview from Oct. 7-24. Games will be televised on channels 771-784 on traditional Comcast systems and on channels 531-544 in former Adelphia areas.

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