Here's an excerpt from my latest Trib column:

The Penguins are caught in a web of nostalgia, loyalty and respect. A reminder of that got served up Tuesday night when Pittsburgh guy Vince Trocheck scored in double overtime to lift the New York Rangers past Carolina.

Trocheck, a center, was available in free agency two years ago. The Penguins were reportedly interested, but decided to retain Malkin instead.

Trocheck has since been the superior player. He's seven years younger than Malkin, and plays like it. Trocheck is better on the power play, manning the bumper spot efficiently. Trocheck doesn't float. He competes hard. Malkin has nine more points than Trocheck over the past two seasons, but Trocheck plays winning hockey. Malkin doesn't. Not anymore.

But the Penguins chose Malkin. They chose nostalgia, loyalty and respect. The Penguins are handcuffed by those concepts.

That's OK. If you win.

To read the entire piece, click HERE.

The Penguins' commitment to the core three and Coach Mike Sullivan goes beyond their mere presence.

For example, Malkin will be the team's No. 2 center 'til his contract expires.

Malkin could lose a leg, or score zero points, or the Penguins could acquire Connor McDavid. Wouldn't matter. Sidney Crosby and Malkin will center the Penguins' top two lines as long as both are on the team. McDavid would get moved to wing.

Malkin will always be on the power play, too.

Signing Trocheck instead of keeping Malkin was a chance to break from that. The Penguins chose otherwise and will continue to reap that.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers - Game Two

Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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