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Penguins Penguins Notebook: No. 1 pick may live in Lemieux's house

Thursday, October 02, 2003

By Dave Molinari, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Rookie goalie Marc-Andre Fleury still doesn't have a contract with the Penguins, but he has found a place to live if he gets one.

And he didn't even have to search through the classifieds.

Fleury has accepted an invitation from Mario Lemieux, the team's owner and No. 1 center, to stay at Lemieux's house in Sewickley while he adjusts to the area and professional hockey.

"It's tough for an 18-year-old to stay by himself all the time," Lemieux said. "Now that the [exhibition] games are done and we're just going to practice every day, I told him [Tuesday] that if he wants to stay at my house, he's welcome to."

Lemieux has done that for other young players -- he made a similar offer to goalie Sebastien Caron last season -- and joked that his motivation isn't entirely altruistic.

"He can take care of the kids, while Nathalie and I go out," Lemieux said.

The reality, though, is that Lemieux knows what it's like to be an 18-year-old French-Canadian in this area. He learned all about it 19 years ago, after the Penguins made him the No. 1 choice in the 1984 entry draft.

"You have a lot of lonely days," he said. "It's nice to have people you can spend time with who speak the same language."

Coach Eddie Olczyk said he was unaware of the Lemieux-Fleury hookup, but was quick to endorse it.

"Maybe they'll talk contract over dinner or something," he said.

That's not likely, given Lemieux's stance on that subject.

"I'm not going to be involved in the negotiations," he said. "Obviously, Craig [Patrick, the general manager] is the one doing that with his agent. I have no intention of stepping in."

Patrick spoke with Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, yesterday and is expected to send him a contract proposal today.

Missing winger

Right winger Aleksey Morozov, who skated Tuesday on a line with Ryan Malone and Rico Fata, missed practice yesterday because of illness.

That meant Malone and Fata had to get by without a right winger, as Olczyk kept his other lines intact for the second day in a row. They were Steve McKenna-Mike Eastwood-Kelly Buchberger, Lemieux-Martin Straka-Konstantin Koltsov, Matt Murley-Brian Holzinger-Matt Bradley and Reid Simpson-Milan Kraft-Ramzi Abid.

Olczyk, though, said he is not committed to those configurations.

"I think we have the mold of where we kind of see guys [playing]," he said. "We may tinker with some guys coming in and out of certain lines. Honestly, I could not say that the combinations we have in practice right now are going to be the ones that start [the season].

"I think it's pretty obvious that we are going to have Marty, [Koltsov] and Mario [together], but after that, I think there could be some maneuvering around."

Layoff questions

Lemieux got an excellent start a year ago despite sitting out every preseason game, so he isn't concerned about how the large gap between the exhibition finale Sunday in Columbus and the regular-season opener will affect his game.

Nor does he seem worried about how his teammates will cope with the extended layoff.

"It might take a couple of games to get used to each other," he said. "But it's a long season."

Waiver wire

Former Penguins players and minor-leaguers available in the NHL waiver draft tomorrow include forwards Darcy Verot (Washington), Chris Ferraro and Peter Ferraro (Phoenix), Domenic Pittis (Buffalo), Greg Crozier (New Jersey), Dennis Bonvie (Ottawa), Kevin Miller (Detroit), Sean Pronger (Columbus), Martin Sonnenberg (Calgary), defensemen Maxim Galanov (Toronto), Mike Wilson (Phoenix), John Jakopin (New York Rangers), Paul Laus (Florida) and Brad Werenka (Calgary) and goalie Tyler Moss (Vancouver).

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