Special Guest Interview: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins
I recently had the opportuntity to interview Seth Rorabaugh from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Seth is a writer at the Gazette who follows the Penguins closely. I want to thank Seth for being extremely gracious and accomodating with his time, and if you like the interview we highly recommend you check out his blog at http://blogs.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/empty-netters and you follow him on twitter at @emptynetters.
Here is the interview.
B.Kerr: There has been a lot of confusion about the exact nature of Sidney Crosby’s latest injury, maybe you can clarify some things for us. Is this purely a soft tissue issue in his neck? Or did he suffer both a neck injury and a concussion?
Seth Rorabaugh: Based on what the team reported Tuesday, he has suffered at least one of each. Regarding the neck, there is no way of knowing when it happened. It could have happened when he was a 10-year-old kid, or Jan. 1, 2011 or Jan. 1, 2012. No one seems to know for sure.
Regardless of the reason, he is still suffering from some sort of concussion-like symptoms. That said, he seems to be doing better as he’s engaging in on ice work with other injured players.
BK: Sidney Crosby’s contract is up after next season. How do you think what has gone on over the last year will effect his negotiations on a new deal.
S.R: The biggest issue is the pending new CBA. It’s going to impact every potential free agent. You could have a completely different financial landscape potentially. Additionally, with regards the Penguins, they have to worry about pending free agencies of other players such as James Neal this summer, Jordan Staal in 2013 as well as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang in 2014. Even if you disregard all those factors, the Penguins and Crosby are committed to keeping their marriage for the long term. Maybe there will be some specific provisions within any new contract with regards to his health, but this doesn’t lessen the Penguins’ desire to keep Crosby in a Penguins jersey for the long term.
BK: There has been some talk in the Canadian media (http://ottawa.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120202/nhl-concussions-insurance-120202/20120202/?hub=OttawaHome) about the NHL’s insurance underwriters wanting exclusions for concussions and other head injuries. Is this an issue with the Penguins, and with Crosby specifically? How would the inability to insure a contract for Crosby effect the negotiation of a new deal?
SR: No. Again, the team and the player are dedicated to keeping this marriage for the long term. Like I said earlier, perhaps there might be some specific wording regarding this type of injury, but both parties are legitimately interested in remaining partners.
BK: I think most analysts agree that Evgeni Malkin is currently the best hockey player in the world. If Crosby were to be forced to retire, or left Pittsburgh for any reason, would there be a drop off in sponsorship, ticket sales, and revenues surrounding the team? Or can he fill the role Sidney Crosby plays in the Pens marketting plans?
SR: As splendid of a talent Malkin is, he’s just not Sidney Crosby from a marketing standpoint. Crosby has been hype in one way or another for nearly 10 years. Until recently, Malkin has been a fairly introverted person. Crosby has been on The Tonight Show. He’s the one in Gatorade and Tim Hortons commercials. I don’t think the team would be in trouble by any means in terms of ticket sales, but you would probably see a few less Penguins games on national television in the United States.
BK: We are less than a month from the NHL trading deadline, what is the Penguins biggest need heading into the deadline?
SR: Until last night’s effort by Brent Johnson, I would say back up goaltender. Johnson has not had a very good season and Marc-Andre Fleury has had to pick up a lot of work. The Penguins want to limit him to approximately 60 games in the regular season and currently (as of Feb. 2), he’s on pace for 69 games. If they don’t have faith in Johnson, they need to get another back up to share the load, particularly on back-to-back nights.
Away from net, they probably could stand to add a veteran defensive defenseman. Last year’s shutdown pairing of Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin has not been sharp this season. Additionally, all of their top seven defenseman in the organization have all been out of the lineup for various reasons this season. Adding a No. 3-4-5 defenseman with a physical edge would help out.
Again I’d like to thank Seth Rorabaugh for helping us out with this today, and I highly recommend that you all check him out on his blog and on twitter.
…. And thats the Last Word