Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Category Archives: Pittsburgh

Here’s Chuckie

When Chuck Kobasew was recalled back to Pittsburgh, I had honestly thought that was the last time we would see him in Wilkes-Barre. Kobasew, assigned to Wilkes-Barre March 5, put up 10 goals and an assist in 11 games. Seemingly a man playing a kid’s game.

He’s back.

Kobasew was re-assigned today by Pittsburgh along with Harry Zolnierczyk and Simon Despres as the Penguins are about to embark on their run for their first ever Calder Cup. With the unknown status of Brian Dumoulin and the injury to Philip Samuelsson, the addition of Simon Despres is welcome and needed.

Having Kobasew back in town adds one more body over the veteran limit, but at this time of year having seven healthy veterans is a good problem to have.

Our neighbors to the north and south of I-81 loaded up too.

Ottawa sent Cody Ceci, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Stone to Binghamton yesterday, made official today.

Washington sent Julien Brouillette and Peter Leblanc to Hershey yesterday. Tyson Strachan was assigned today after clearing waivers. Chandler Stephenson signed his ATO and joined the team en route to Norfolk, for two huge games against the Admirals for seemingly the right to go to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Wilkes-Barre signed three guys to ATOs today. Jean-Sebastian Dea, Clark Seymour and Matthew Murray. A forward, defenseman and a goaltender. Seymour and Murray were with the team last Spring on ATOs. Dea wowed in the Fall and earned himself a contract. Out of the trio, I would bet we see Dea.

Sad news out of Abbotsford today, as it was announced that the Heat would not return for a sixth season. The five seasons in British Columbia have been a disaster at the turnstyle, with Abbotsford at the bottom of AHL attendance. To boot, the city had to subsidize the team for 10 years meaning that the taxpayers had to pay for the team. There’s speculation that the team may relocate to Glens Falls in the Fall, with the Phantoms already set to move to Allentown in October.

Be thankful you have a Penguins team that plays at or near capacity night after night.

Wednesday Notebook

A bunch of stuff to get to. Here we go…

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was assigned to Wilkes-Barre today on a conditioning assignment.

In a reactionary move, G Eric Hartzell was sent to Wheeling to get games in. Also in that release is the recall of Cody Sylvester.

Scott Wilson has signed his ATO.

Two other teams are in playoffs. Reservations made for the St. John’s IceCaps and the Abbotsford Heat.

Kris Letang is back.

Andrew Ebbett is back too.

Jonathan had an update on the days news, with quotes from Vokoun. Coal Street put together an audio package that you can listen to here.

Some footnotes: The Ebbett re-assignment puts the Pens one over the veteran limit again. In case you were wondering, having Tomas Vokoun in town on conditioning does not affect the veteran limit because goaltenders are exempt from this rule…Cody Sylvester had his appendix removed a few days ago and was called up to get looked at medically here.

The AHL started rolling out its end of year awards. Schedule here. The All-Rookie Team was announced today. None of the Penguins were on it. But that game me an idea nevertheless. My own Chirps from Center Ice End of the Year Awards. We can do the standard Rookie of the Year, Best Forward, Best Defenseman, Best Goalie and MVP and any other category that comes to me within the final two weeks of the season. The good people at WordPress who host my blog allow me to use polls, so I am going to put it to you, the reader to decide who wins. Look for that in the coming weeks.

Next blog update will probably be the Friday afternoon setup for the game in Syracuse.


Thursday Notebook 1/23

Just a couple of things rolling around the hopper…

Steve Oleksy is back with Hershey, having cleared waivers Tuesday. So too is G Philipp Grubauer. The Capitals recalled D Nate Schmidt in what was probably a swap for him and Oleksy. The Penguins play Hershey this Sunday.

– Something which hit me out of left field, but the St. John’s IceCaps could be no more in a few years as parent Winnipeg is looking to place an AHL team in Thunder Bay, Ontario to be “closer” to their prospects. The arena in Thunder Bay hasn’t been built yet, so everything is premature. I was more shocked at a) the very thought of moving a team out of St. John’s. Mile One Centre has sold out every game since the IceCaps were born; b) how quickly things escalated with the Jets having a word on it then the IceCaps and c) the announcement coming weeks before the AHL puts on its showcase event in the AHL All-Star Classic.

It also got me to thinking how well we, as Wilkes-Barre fans, have it as Wilkes-Barre fans. If your single biggest gripe is the parking lot at the Mohegan Sun Arena not being 100% paved or not being able to hear Mike O’Brien call a Penguins game over the air on 102.3 because of a football game, then you, me, us have it pretty damn good. Count your blessings.

– Ex-WBS Penguin Dustin Jeffrey was placed on and cleared waivers these past 24 hours. Remember that Pittsburgh put Jeffrey on waivers a few weeks ago he was claimed by the Dallas Stars. Pittsburgh could have hypothetically claimed Jeffrey back and assigned him to Wilkes-Barre.

– The Penguins did re-assign Zach Sill to Wilkes-Barre Thursday morning. Pittsburgh did activate Andrew Ebbett from injured reserve.

The Sill re-assignment came Thursday morning, then Jeffrey went unclaimed at noon, and then the announcement that Ebbett was re-activated off of injured reserve at around 2 p.m. That timeline made sense because either Jeffrey was getting claimed or someone was coming off of reserve. You never see Pittsburgh skate not carry an extra forward at anytime.

Here’s a story from Nailers beat writer Shawn Rine which provides an in-depth look at the Peter Mannino saga.

Penguins will get to Norfolk Thursday afternoon for a pair of weekend games against the Admirals. Friday’s game begins at 7:30, so the Gameday setup for that will hit the blog Friday at 3:30.

Injuries 2.0

Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Penguins were finally healthy and bodies were going to, eventually, start filtering back to Wilkes-Barre.

Boom. Nick Drazenovic recalled Tuesday morning and Brian Gibbons and Joe Vitale placed on injured reserve retroactive. But wait, there’s more! James Neal is day to day (upper body) and might still play Wednesday vs. Washington but might not, so there’s a possibility that yet another body may be claimed from Wilkes-Barre.

Jonathan had a Tuesday update to complain about the Tom, Nick and Harry line being broken up to offer perspective on the Pens down the middle.

Coal Street released Barry Goers from his PTO and recalled Nick D’Agostino.

Anyway, I was thinking about all the injuries the Penguins have had in the past three seasons and how pillaged Wilkes-Barre has been as a result. That said, with all of the advanced analytics, charts, metrics, graphs and what have you out there on the internet and filling up your Twitter feed I was wondering if it was possible for someone to come up with a chart defining the injuries sustained by the Penguins in the past three to five years. In comparison, look at the injuries sustained by the other 29 teams and compare them. Example:

Player x broke his ankle pursuing a puck into the boards. His lower leg hits the boards and his leg turns awkwardly and he suffers a broken ankle. How many other NHL teams have had this similar injury?

Like how many times do you see a player block a shot with his hand errantly? How often does it happen to the Penguins in the past three years and the rest of the league?

I guess what I am trying to get at is there is no doubt that the Penguins seem to be ravaged by injuries year after year. There has to be some kind of explanation as to why.

Anyway, I am aiming at a Thursday release of my Second Quarter Grades provided I don’t break, strain, pull, tweak or concuss some upper or lower body injury in an undisclosed fashion. Heh.

Lending a Helping Hand

No, literally.

Announced today that Chris Conner will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a hand injury. He needs surgery, so it’s estimated that he’ll be out 6-8 weeks.


That makes Andrew Ebbett, Jayson Megna and now Conner that were once Wilkes-Barre regulars that are now injured with Pittsburgh.

In the wake of this news, Pittsburgh claimed Taylor Pyatt off of waivers from the New York Rangers. Consider him a bottom-six type of player, that will fill a need and avoid yet another body being sent up to Pittsburgh from Wilkes-Barre.

Speaking of Wilkes-Barre, the Pens were scheduled to travel to Hartford today for tomorrows game in the Connecticut capital. They normally skate in the morning at Coal Street, load a bus and hit the Wegmans on Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard for some lunch and hit the road. Normally Jonathan has a blurb on something. That didn’t happen today, which leads me to believe that they skipped town sometime this morning and skated when they got to Hartford because of the snowstorm.

So they are there. Manchester (Saturday’s opponent) is already in Binghamton and the B-Sens (Sunday’s opponent) don’t go any place this weekend except Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Provided the Pens don’t get snowed in in Hartford, I’d expect all the games to be played as scheduled.

Gameday for tomorrow’s game in Hartford will hit the blog tomorrow at 3 p.m

Let’s Go Pens!

Weekend Setup 12/19

I am off from my real job for these next two days so I got a large majority of my Christmas shopping done Thursday afternoon. I could not believe the amount of people out and about. My brother got me a $25 Panera gift card for my recent birthday and Panera, on a Thursday afternoon after the standard 12-1 lunch hour, was packed with people. Doesn’t anybody work anymore? Or are the standard 9-5 workdays a thing of the past and everyone has a .com, work-from-home business empire that they call their bread and butter? Baffles the mind…

Fontina Grilled Cheese with a baguette and a medium Mountain Dew, if you are scoring from home. Fontina Grilled Cheese from Panera is the bees knees.


Couple of things you know, then a few things you might not if you aren’t tuned into the M*A*S*H East Division like I am. Let’s get with the things that you may know…

Brian Gibbons was recalled in wake of Jayson Megna’s injury, yet the Penguins keep winning.

Jonathan’s Thursday update. In it, news that Eric Hartzell is starting tomorrow, Bobby Farnham on the 2nd power play unit and Reid McNeill’s unavailability. Jonathan had a Tuesday update that revealed that Dom Uher should be back this weekend, skating with a full shield.

– Wilkes-Barre will be donning Christmas jerseys this weekend. They had a big Twitter reveal on Tuesday, but it went totally over my head that the Holiday Nutcrackers they handed out Saturday actually had the jerseys painted on them. What slacking by me, I could have had an “exclusive” story on the Christmas jerseys before anyone else.

Outside of Wilkes-Barre, but staying in the East….

Hershey released Jamie Johnson from his standard playing contract and let him go back overseas to the Kontinental Hockey League. Johnson found himself a veteran scratch more than he saw himself of the ice, so it’s a move that was mutual, if I had to guess.

– Syracuse gets an offensive shot in the arm with the announcement this week that they have signed Jon DiSalvatore to an AHL deal. DiSalvatore had been playing in Munich, and much like Johnson in Hershey, wasn’t seeing as much ice as he wanted to so he was let out of his deal and returned here to play for a Syracuse team desperate for offense with much of their team in Tampa Bay on recall.

– Syracuse does get some help with the re-assignments of Matt Taormina and Dana Tyrell back from Tampa Bay.

– Ol’ buddy Chris Collins was released by Norfolk and goes back to his ECHL club in Bakersfield.

Sorry Binghamton, no news out of you this week.

Anyway, Worcester in in town already for the 7:05 Friday start tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre. Gameday for this will be here on the blog tomorrow at 3.

Let’s Go Pens!

Thanksgiving Comes Early for Pittsburgh

Announced this morning that Chris Conner, Simon Despres, and Jayson Megna have been recalled to Pittsburgh.

Really, if you follow the action closely, not surprising. Pittsburgh’s not going to carry 11 forwards plus a cleared waivers Matt D’Agostini, that’s if he clears at noon Wednesday. So the recalls of Megna and Conner are insurance for Pittsburgh. Despres is left handed and, as Jonathan pointed out yesterday, Despres is the only healthy puck moving southpaw worth a call up in the organization.

So, if D’Agostini clears and is assigned to Wilkes-Barre you have him, Brian Gibbons, Tom Kostopoulos, Brendan Mikkelson and Harry Zolnierczyk as your top scorers, with a pretty solid defense corps and rock steady goaltending. I’ll take this into battle against an Adirondack team that’s lost six straight and feel damn good about my chances.

I probably won’t have anymore updates here today but for the Gameday setup with the aforementioned Phantoms at 3, then the post game recap after the game tonight. So if Pittsburgh does assign D’Agostini here, pending the waivers, I’ll probably blurb about it on Twitter.

Let’s Go Pens!!


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