Monday Buzz Column: No slam dunk Jagr’s second greatest Penguin ever

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN Where do you suppose Sidney Crosby will be in 2031? Will he still be playing in the NHL at 44 like Jaromir Jagr? Think he’’ll score 25 or more goals at that age? Jagr, who may be the most amazing major pro athlete in North America right now, scored his 25th in the Florida Panthers’ win over Tampa Bay Saturday night. It’s hard to imagine Crosby saying he’d like to play another 15 years, but 15 years ago Jagr probably didn’t imagine himself still playing in 2016. Jagr is still playing because he’s still having fun. Except for his last year or two with the Penguins, Jagr has always looked like a kid who’s really enjoying his time on the ice. But, what is the baseball equivalent of a 44 year-old hockey player scoring 25 goals? Let’s not count Barry Bonds because of the juice. And it’sRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: Don’t Hand the Hart Trophy to Patrick Kane Just Yet

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN If Patrick Kane had asked for the Hart Trophy for Christmas back on December 18th, Santa would have had it under the tree on Christmas morning. That’s the trophy that goes to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player and Kane was running away with the scoring title back then after scoring at least one point in 26 consecutive games. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby was on his way to getting a lump of coal. He had six goals and 13 assists in 30 games and no points in 18 of those games. Kane had 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points in 33 games – an average of 1.42 points per game. Fans and some in the media were saying everything from take away Crosby’s C to trade him before the rest of the league realizes he’s washed up. Boy have things changed. Crosby could ask for the HartRead More »

On Replacing Malkin, Martavis Bryant/NFL’s Stupidity, Pitt/NCAA Tourney

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN I checked with the Penguins and they insist that they will show up for the rest of the season. The question, of course, is will they be showing up for the playoffs now that Evgeni Malkin is out at least until April? Lots of people who follow and/or cover the Penguins wrote them off about 30 seconds after hearing the news about Malkin’s upper body injury and that’s somewhat understandable. It’s understandable because the perception of the Penguins – with Malkin – has been that they are a borderline playoff team and not a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. Funny, there aren’t too many people saying the same thing about the Chicago Blackhawks. Since December 21st, after adjusting to their new coach Mike Sullivan, the Penguins are 21-15. The Blackhawks, over that same period, are 21-13. And the Penguins just picked up four points on theRead More »

Steelers Off-Season Approach Often Works

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN Know any good offensive linemen? The Steelers may be looking for one or two after free agency kicks in on Wednesday. They have five players from their offensive line becoming unrestricted free agents. The two most important are Kelvin Beachum and Ramon Foster. Foster was the starter at left guard last season and Beachum was the starting left tackle until he blew out a knee in week seven. Beachum was on his way to a huge pay day if he had stayed healthy but his injury may have made him more affordable to the Steelers. Foster is a good left guard but probably not good enough to break the Steelers’ bank. Fans and media like to criticize the Steelers for not being bold enough when it comes to free agents but the fact that they haven’t had a losing season since 2003 tells you all you needRead More »

Steigerwald: Dissecting Pirates being Cheap & Smart Business, + Pens Cup Contender Status

 

JUST SHUT UP AND PLAY The Pirates are cheap. That’s the consensus among fans and media who are really good at spending other people’s money. In this case it’s the Nutting family’s money and they have decided that it should have spent more money to keep Gerrit Cole happy. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on Saturday that Cole wasn’t happy with the $541,000 one-year contract that he signed. Twitter and the talk shows exploded with responses from fans calling the Nuttings cheap. They say cheap, I say smart. Cole is heading into his third season. The collective bargaining agreement that his union agreed to several years ago gives teams full control over players’ salaries until they become arbitration eligible after their third season. As Biertempfel points out, the $8 million signing bonus the Pirates gave Cole after making him the first overall pick in 2011, was the highestRead More »

Big shoes to fill for Jesse James, Debating Best Tight Ends in Steelers History, The Greatness of Jaromir Jagr

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN Jesse James has some big shoes to fill. He’s 6’7 and weighs 270, so I’m guessing he fills some pretty big shoes every day, but he’s also a tight end for the Steelers and that means, as of right now, he has to fill Heath Miller’s shoes. Since he retired on Friday, I don’t think there is a person in Western Pennsylvania who has challenged the notion that Miller is the best tight end in Steelers history and he’s been one of the three best in the league for the last 11 years. Miller was a first-round pick in 2005 and considered a possible steal at the time because he only fell that far because of some questions about his back. He had won the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football. James was ranked the seventh best tight end in the 2015Read More »

About those ‘meaningless’ NHL regular season games, Pens biggest trade deadline need is #81, Pirates Over/Under

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN What happened to all those meaningless NHL regular season games? Hasn’t that been one of the big criticisms of the NHL, especially from the hockey haters who still think it’s a bunch of guys with no teeth fighting all the time? The Penguins play one of those meaningless games in Ft. Lauderdale against the Florida Panthers, who just happen to be leading the Atlantic Division with 70 points. The Penguins are in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division, 21 points behind the Washington Capitals, but they also go into the game in ninth place overall, which is one place away from being one of those too many teams that make the playoffs. That’s been the other major criticism, mostly from people who don’t like and/or don’t get hockey. Sixteen teams making the playoffs doesn’t make regular season games meaningless. It does just the opposite. The two pointsRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: Steelers a Good bet for Super Bowl 51? On Letang, Crosby’s soaring production under Sullivan

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN Who do you like in Super Bowl 51? The Steelers are a better bet than the Broncos according to the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas. They are 8-1. The Broncos are 14-1. You can also get 8-1 on the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. The Carolina Panthers are 10 to 1. The Steelers are in pretty good company with the Patriots and the Seahawks, but do they belong in that company? And do you like the Steelers’ chances of winning the Super Bowl better than the Carolina Panthers’ who are 22-5 since Week 14 of the 2014 season and will be bringing back the league MVP to play quarterback? Von Miller, Super Bowl 50’s MVP, is an unrestricted free agent and the Broncos aren’t letting him go, which means their defense will start the 2016 season as the best in the league. Everybody around theRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: Brady not better than Ben, + Super Bowl Thoughts

 

Tom Brady’s not better than Ben Roethlisberger. How does that grab you? A huge portion of the national media and just about everybody in the New England States had declared Brady the best quarterback in the history of football when he advanced to his fifth AFC Championship game last month. But that AFC Championship game last week didn’t do much to support the theory that he’s the best of all time and it also showed that he’s not as good as Ben Roethelisberger. I have never seen a quarterback with more room and time to throw on a more consistent basis than Brady, but that sure was not the case in Denver. Brady has put up some amazing stats and his teams have won a lot of championships but Brady benefits more from the Patriots’s system than the Patriots system benefits from Brady. Bill Belichick discovered a long time agoRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: Steelers a legitimate Super Bowl Contender in the making or a second tier team that may have peaked?

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN So, now what? The Steelers were bounced out of the playoffs again and, even though they did win their first post season game in five years this time around, that win was about as fluky as a win can get. Do you think they would have beaten the Broncos with Antonio Brown? Maybe, but they couldn’t beat the Cincinnati Bengals with him. Brown was gone when the game winning field goal was kicked and there almost certainly would not have been a game winning field goal if not for the historic stupidity of Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones. It took what may go down as the greatest gift ever given to an NFL team in a post season game for the Steelers to avoid the longest post season win drought since Chuck Noll showed up in 1969. So, are the Steelers a couple of good breaks awayRead More »