On February 22nd Penguins fans were devastated with the news that Pittsburgh’s leading
scorer and beloved captain, right winger Jaromir Jagr, would be placed on injured reserved
with a hamstring injury. The original estimate for games missed was 3 weeks. Considering the
Penguins current struggles, inconsistency both on and off the ice, the last thing this team needed was to lose their leader. At the same time 3 weeks without Jagr would be a good test for the unity of the team, and a chance for individuals such as Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, German Titov, and Aleksey Morozov to focus on their talents and break out of scoring slumps. It would also give some of the Jr. Pens, hard working players such as Robert Dome and Martin Sonnenberg a chance to revisit NHL ice.
Unfortunately, the outlook for Jagr’s return soon became grimmer. Few were prepared when it was announced that a blood clot had formed in his thigh and would need to be surgically removed, an incident unrelated to that of the hamstring injury. What did it mean? It meant adding at least a couple more weeks to the overall recovery time. Instead of missing a month of action, Jaromir could end up missing the remainder of the regular season, if not the remainder of the year.
As much as I’ve enjoyed covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and their farm affiliates in Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling, it is now time for me to go after a dream of my own. Before I do so, I would like to take this moment and say, “Thank you,” to those of you who have followed my work and supported me. Because this dream is rather demanding, and it will take a lot of energy and dedication, I will not be able to write about the Penguins with the frequency you are used to.
You see, for the past seven years I have dedicated my life to writing about hockey, always dreaming of reaching for the impossible and doing what no other journalist has done before. The only problem with my dream was despite effort and determination it lacked a sense of direction. I may have learned a lot about this magical game throughout the journey, but was honestly miles away from “the game winning goal.” Now, after careful consideration and endless hours of research, I have decided to reach beyond the boundaries of North America and specialize in Russian hockey.
Last summer was the first big step in turning this dream into a reality. I was a little frightened and unsure, but I knew if I could find the courage to push myself, I could make anything happen. That’s when I boarded a plane at JFK in New York and headed out on a solo trip to Yaroslavl, Russia. It took ten hours by air and 4 hours by train to get there, but I eventually made it and somehow captured an interview with the management of Torpedo Yaroslavl, elite members of the Russian Hockey League.
Name: Jean-Sebastien Aubin
Birthdate: July 17, 1977
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec
Acquired: 1995 NHL Draft, third round (76th overall)
HF Comments: Jean-Sebastien has proven himself to be a future NHL starter. Actually, at the moment, due to Barrasso’s continuous struggle with personal tragedy, he is the number one guy and has shown the team he deserves to be there. He stepped up and did a terrific job when Pittsburgh needed him the most. Granted he’s made a few mistakes and may not have the hottest record in the American Hockey League, but his time on NHL ice has been more than impressive all things considered, including a ride on the yo-yo string between two leagues (AHL & NHL). Unless the goaltending situation changes drastically (i.e. acquisition of a new veteran goalie), expect Aubin to remain in the top spot during the 2000-2001 season.
Year Team League GP GAA W L T SO
1999-00 Wilkes-Br AHL 9 4.35 2 7 0 0
Pittsburgh NHL 36 2.53 16 16 1 2
1998-99 Kansas City IHL 13 3.27 5 7 1 0
Pittsburgh NHL 17 2.22 4 3 6 2
2. Read more»
Numerous problems have plagued the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. From personal
tragedies, to injuries, to coaching changes and inconsistency on the ice,
it never seemed to stop. Fortunately, despite the chaos, the team as a whole never stopped believing in the impossible. Classed as an ordinary talent, a struggling team whose playoff chances are slipping away, the Pittsburgh Penguins are far from quitting. The truth is they will do whatever it takes to build a winner, and positively reinforce their farm system, even if it takes a year or two longer to be recognized for their efforts. At the moment a trail of disappointment ripples through the system, but there is hope on the horizon. No team is more capable of making a statement than Pittsburgh. When they decide to do something, they usually go all out.
On February 7th, the Pittsburgh Penguins named Ivan Hlinka associate head coach, with the intention of making him successor to Herb Brooks as head coach next season. Ivan, who is a world-class talent behind the bench and led the Czech National team (including Jaromir Jagr) to Olympic gold, will become the first European coach to take the helm of a NHL team. It’s fitting considering the Penguins are credited for being the first NHL team to draft heavily from Europe and build their current roster around such. It will take some getting used to, especially for those players who are not from the Czech Republic, but the common opinion is it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Name: Michal Rozsival
Birthdate: Sept. 3, 1978
Birthplace: Vlasim, Czech Rep.
Acquired: 1996 NHL Draft, fourth round (105th overall)
HF Comments: Michal started off the 99-00 season on a positive note, impressing Penguins management enough to earn himself a spot on the full-time roster. Since then he has continued to climb the latter of success. His valiant efforts have not gone unnoticed and have moved him up to the number one spot on the prospect list. As a rookie, Michal still has much to learn, but he does appear to be doing so quickly. Mid-way through the season, and one coach later, he’s not only earned the respect of his teammates, but more importantly, he has also earned the respect of his coach. Herb Brooks has admitted to being very impressed by Michal’s work ethics. He says even though Rozsival is a young defenseman, he feels as though he can trust him on a nightly basis.
Year Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1999-00 Pittsburgh NHL 45 3 11 14 22
1998-99 Syracuse AHL 49 3 22 25 72
1997-98 Swift Current WHL 71 14 55 69 122
Name: Andrew Ference
Ht: 5’10″ Wt: 190
Born: March 17, 1979
Acquired: 1997 NHL Draft, eighth round selection (208th overall)