There have been a lot of questions lately about who the Penguins’ MVP is this season.

Evgeni Malkin? Not a bad choice. When Sidney Crosby went down with the ankle injury, “Geno” stepped up big time and carried much of the Penguins on his shoulders.

Ty Conklin? Hard to argue. He stepped in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury and turned in the best season of his NHL career, often making saves he (or anyone else for that matter) had no business making.

But my choice is Ryan Malone. To me, “Bugsy” is the heart and soul of this team.

Until this season, Malone was the type of player with tons of potential and not a whole lot to show for it. But this year is different.

Malone became a father for the first time. He started to realize that he could be a leader and a go-to guy, and it looks like he finally has gotten over the pressure of being a local guy playing for his hometown team. He does all the dirty work, paying the price down low. He also stands up for his teammates.

There’s a reason why Ryan Malone has an “A” on his sweater. He’s a player the Penguins MUST re-sign this off-season, and how he plays will go a long way toward determining how well the Pens do in the 2008 playoffs.

No pressure, right?


Thoughts On Myron Cope

March 17, 2008

I only had one real experience with the late, great Myron Cope.
It was November of 2000, and I had just moved to the Pittsburgh area from Buffalo, N.Y. The Steelers were getting ready to host the Washington Redskins in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium.
My assignment was to interview Myron and talk about some of his great memories broadcasting Steelers games at the old stadium. I found him to be a humble, kind-hearted man who treated me with the utmost respect despite the fact that he had never met me before.

After that interview, I would see Myron every year at training camp in Latrobe. He would always say, “Hello, Jon, how are you?,” and he made me feel like I was someone he knew and respected.

Steeler Nation lost a legend when Myron Cope passed away. He was a man who realized how much he was loved, but he never seem to let it go to his head. He was a true professional.

In my opinion, Myron Cope was not only the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, if the Steelers had a voice, it would be his. Double Yoi, Myron! Few did it better!

The Pitt Panthers are headed to their seventh straight NCAA tournament and many are calling this the best coaching job by Jamie Dixon since he took over the program. I’m not sure I disagree.
Pitt overcame injuries to key players and a tough Big East schedule, not to mention facing the challenge of winning four games in four days to win the conference tournament.
The common thread has been Dixon. He never gets too high or too low and his players will run through walls for him.
The key player for the Panthers has to be Sam Young. He made quite a turnaround in the last year.
I remember trying to interview Young after Pitt beat VCU in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. He simply shook his head “no.” He was disappointed in his playing time and was rumored to be considering transferring out of Oakland.
But look at him now. He’s first team All-Big East, was the conference tournament MVP, and he’s playing with a ton of confidence. (And he’s talking to the media!)
Bobby Knight says Pitt will run the table and win the NCAA’s. I’m not sure I would go that far, but after what I’ve seen lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a big run.

Ben Roethlisberger’s new deal not only keeps him in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future, it also keeps the Black And Gold in the hunt for a championship for years to come.

Let’s face it: In order to win in the NFL, you need a franchise quarterback, someone who gives you a chance for victory each and every week. Very few teams have that, but the Steelers do. And in order to keep a franchise quarterback, you have to pay him.

Is Big Ben on the level of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? Not quite. But he’s not far away. And let’s not forget, he’s only 26!

Ben was able to bounce back from a nightmare of a 2006 season to throw for a team-record 32 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions in 2007, with an offensive line that wasn’t exactly top notch.

The Steelers made a big investment in number seven. I think it’s going to pay off.