Why Fleury should pass on the Olympic Torch, Joel Hanrahan a Bucco?

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By John Toperzer

** Should the Pirates bring back right-handed reliever Joel Hanrahan? The unrestricted free agent is out until the 2014 All-Star break after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He fits the Bucs’ profile of bringing in a proven ability coming off an injury. The former closer can’t be looking for a big payday. Something to mull on.

** Speaking of Hanrahan and his December of 2012 trade, there can be little doubt Pittsburgh “won” the deal. The Pirates acquired Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands in exchange for Hanrahan and Brock Holt. To Pirates fans, this was a huge deal. To the Red Sox faithful, the team moved on and, oh yeah, won a World Series. I’m guessing Hanrahan gets a ring despite a 9.82 ERA, 2.10 WHIP and two blown saves in six chances and nine appearances for the Sox.

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** The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari suggests that Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, might still have a chance of being named to the Canadian Olympic hockey team. Fleury was not invited to the team’s 2013 summer camp with the likes of Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Mike Smith and Roberto Luongo.

Should he go?

In a word “No!”

One reason why the Pens have leaned on Fleury so heavily thus far is because the organization knows that he’ll get a nice break during the Olympics in February. The team didn’t run out and trade for a backup goalie when the Tomas Vokoun blood clot news broke.

Vokoun remain a huge question mark. At this stage of his life, no one would argue if he decided to hang up his skates. Jeff Zatkoff has one NHL win.

The Pens need Fleury to maintain his focus all season long. He’s off to a great start. The Olympics might just mess everything up.

As a point of reference, the last time the Flower won 10 of his first 12 decisions was in 2009-10 — the last Olympic season. He ended up struggling to a 37-21-6 overall regular-season record, including an 8-5-2 post-Olympic record.

The Sochi Olympics are already taking away Pittsburgh’s two best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Here’s to hoping Marc-Andre Fleury stays put.

** There is one redeeming quality about Winter Olympics hockey — it gets rid of the All-Star Game for a year.

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** Can you name the NHL player with the highest point-per-game, single-season average in the 2000s? That would be none other than the big French guy known as “Le Magnifique.” Mario Lemieux averaged 1.767 points per game in 2000-01, scoring 76 points (35G, 41A) in 43 games at age 35. What makes that number stunning is that Todd Bertuzzi led the league in the next season with a 1.181 point-per-game mark. You can see all of the numbers here.

** Here’s another trivia question. Can you name the player with the highest single-season point total in the 2000s? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Mario Lemieux, Peter Forsberg, Alexander Ovechkin, or either of the Sedin brothers. Give up? Joe Thornton notched 125 points in 2005-06, the year he was traded to the San Jose Sharks from the Boston Bruins. You can see all of the single-season point leaders here.

** If you do any fantasy hockey, I posted an article for Rotowire here. It’s a pay website, but you can get a 10-day free trial.

Treasure Life!
JT

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