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Penguins

Orpik looking forward to inking deal

| Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik knows that contract negotiations take time, but the sooner his new deal gets completed, the happier he'll be.

"I'd like to get it done as quick as possible," said Orpik, who was in town on Tuesday to assist at the Penguins Summer Youth Hockey School. "I don't want it to drag out."

Orpik is one of 18 players who received a qualifying offer from the Penguins before July 1, and one of 14 who has yet to sign. He said that agent Lewis Gross hoped to talk with general manager Craig Patrick last week, but he has not spoken to Gross since.

The 23-year-old had an impressive rookie campaign last season, appearing in 79 games with one goal, nine assists and 127 penalty minutes. He went to Wilkes-Barre after the NHL season ended and played in 24 playoff games. He also played for the Eastern Conference in the Young Guns Game during All-Star Weekend.

Orpik, who made $1.075 million last year, said that he's undecided on the length of contract he'd like to receive.

"I'm not really sure what I want to do yet," he said. "We're pretty much open to anything, really."

None of the 14 players with outstanding qualifying offers have arbitration rights. Aleksey Morozov is the only one of those 14 who would have been eligible for arbitration, and he elected not to file. Agent Jay Grossman said last week that Morozov was seeking a multi-year deal.

In other Penguins news, assistant Lorne Molleken resigned more than two months ago, but coach Eddie Olczyk said that finding the right person to replace Molleken is more important than replacing him quickly.

"We're not going to hire someone just for the sake of hiring him," Olczyk said. "I think it's really important that we find who I think, and Craig thinks, is the right guy. Hopefully, sooner than later, something will be resolved, but I just don't want to fill the position for the sake of 'We lost Lorne.'"

Olczyk said that he's spoken to "a lot" of people but that they hadn't made any official offers. He also said that when it comes to what type of position it will be -- goaltending coach, bench assistant, both, etc. -- they're looking at all their options.

"We're going in with a real open mind and keeping the door open for any situation," he said. "We're not ruling anything out."

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