Conor Bedard is tearing up the World Juniors. Four Metro Division teams, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, made Sportsnet’s top 5 teams for a Patrick Kane trade. The Penguins have mounting injuries on the blue line, which could create some patchwork pairings tonight against the New Jersey Devils but also create space for Ty Smith. Sidney Crosby was honored with the highest honour in Canada, and the NHL trade rumors are picking up just a bit around New York Rangers winger Alex Lafreniere after he was a healthy scratch.
And the Canadian Ukranian Congress is asking Canada to not allow Alex Ovechkin into the country.
OK, sometimes this job can really grind you to flour. It can beat on you when your phone is blowing up at 3 a.m. with problems, or someone won’t play nice. Writers aren’t usually easygoing people, you know. And then … then there are the special little moments that make it worthwhile. I will force Dave Molinari to go to dinner with Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy and me on Dec. 31, but only after I skate on the Outdoor Classic rink at Fenway Park (assuming the NHL approves me).
I’m more excited about that than if I found the most incredible little hot dog greasy spoon diner in the middle of the northern PA mountains, and they were big PHN fans. Sometimes, it is not such a bad life.
Pittsburgh Penguins / Steelers, Pirates
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: No, you don’t call him Sir, but Sidney Crosby received the high honor of being named to the Order of Canada. This is a pretty big deal. Before 1919, it would have meant the British monarch knighted Sidney Crosby.
Perhaps we can convince Penguins PA announcer Ryan Mill to add Sir to his goal call, anyway?
The injuries are mounting on the blue line. Now the top d-man is out with a lower-body injury, too — Practice began on Thursday, but no Kris Letang.
Letang’s injury could open the spot and Penguins’ debut for Ty Smith.
For our Ohio friends, sports betting becomes legal on Sunday. The sports gambling books are offering piles of free money for pre-registrations, but the offers expire tomorrow. To get the freebies to bet on Bowl Games and or the Steelers, get the $200 DraftKings promo here.
Has Diontae Johnson lived up to his contract?
One path remains. One Steelers playoff scenario.
Pittsburgh Baseball Now:
John Perrotto has been a Hall of Fame voter for quite a while. He takes it seriously. That’s why we appreciate John. Here’s his HoF ballot and full explanation. You can argue, agree, or maybe even be enlightened. Perrotto’s Baseball Hall of Fame voting.
I wish John had a better team to cover. For almost the entirety of his brilliant career (so far), the Pirates have been rebuilding, bad, tearing down, worse, claiming to rebuild, and otherwise holding a top-shelf ballpark hostage with bottom-shelf players. However, it appears the Pirates won’t completely stink next year. Let’s hope.
NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now:
Sportnet: OK, let me preface this one by pointing out the near impossibility, almost to a certainty. This is pure NHL trade speculation, BUT Sportsnet dropped five teams for Patrick Kane. The Pittsburgh Penguins were among their four Metro teams.
I feel a “settle down” column coming.
Washington Hockey Now: I’m not sure how much weight this carries, but the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has requested Alex Ovechkin, who has close ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, not be allowed into Canada to play hockey.
TSN: Wow, Conor Bedard. He tied the World Juniors record with a pair of eye-popping nights. After a bad game early, Canada is rolling.
Florida: It was Sasha Barkov night. Back in the lineup, he popped a hat trick as the Florida Panthers crushed Montreal.
Montreal Hockey Now: This was interesting. I haven’t seen the Rangers enough this season, but former top pick Alex Lafreniere was a healthy scratch. The NHL trade rumors perked up, and that includes the Montreal Canadiens.
Vegas Hockey Now: I think JVR fits in Pittsburgh if Philly likes a bit of what the Penguins have to offer, anyway. James van Riemsdyk is an under-the-radar target in the NHL trade chatter, but he could also fit with the Vegas Golden Knights.
San Jose: A heartbroken Thomas Hertl and a resurgent Erik Karlsson explained the difference between the San Jose Sharks and good teams.
Calgary: Things have been touch-and-go in Calgary since the Matthew Tkachuk-Jonathan Huberdeau blockbuster. Huberdeau needs to give a little more to be what the Calgary Flames need.