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Ferraros just want chance

By Joe Starkey

RALEIGH, N.C. - Some people collect Ferraris. The Penguins collect Ferraros.

Two days ago, the Penguins plucked identical twin brothers Chris and Peter Ferraro off the waiver wire. Now if the team can lure Ray Ferraro away from the Los Angeles Kings and Geraldine Ferraro from the United Nations, we'll have a veritable Ferraro Festival on our hands.

Might sell some tickets.

First let's see if the Ferraro brothers can play. The New York Rangers obviously didn't think so - at least not yet. The Rangers drafted Peter Ferraro with the 24th overall pick in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft and took his brother in the fourth round.

Peter Ferraro, a center, has played in just seven NHL games and has one point. Chris, a right wing, has appeared in 12 NHL games with three points.

"It's a tough organization to crack there," Chris Ferraro said. "They're filled with talent and filled with experience."

The Rangers also operate under a win-now mandate and cannot afford to be patient with many prospects. The Penguins can. General manager Craig Patrick believes the Ferraro brothers have the talent to play in the NHL. They practiced with the team Thursday and could play in tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Greensboro Coliseum.

"We'd have to put them through waivers to reassign them," Patrick said. "So they're going to stay here."

The brothers arrived Wednesday in Pittsburgh and took in the Penguins-Kings game at the Civic Arena. Chris - or was it Peter? - seemed a bit stunned.

"I'll be honest," Chris said. "I can't believe I'm in another organization right now."

Both Ferraros are 24 years old, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. Both have brown eyes, black hair and permanent 5 o'clock shadows.

How are we supposed to tell the difference between the two?

"Peter's got a mole on his left cheek," Chris said.

It might seem odd that the Rangers drafted the Ferraros together and waived them together and that Penguins acquired them together. Apparently, they come as a package deal. They've been teammates since they first laced up skates at 6 years old.

"They play well together, for one thing," Patrick said. "And we felt we needed a couple of forwards. (Co-owner) Howard Baldwin said, 'Is there a way we can pay them one salary?' "

Coach Kevin Constantine isn't sure if the two will play on the same line.

"If playing them together makes the team better, we will," Constantine said.

The name of the Ferraros' game is offense. Peter had 38 goals and 39 assists in 75 games last season with Binghamton of the American Hockey League. Teammate Chris had 29 goals and 34 assists in 53 games.

"We're pretty dangerous together," said Peter, who scored six goals in eight games for the 1994 U.S. Olympic team. "I'm more of a scorer, whereas my brother is more of a set-up player, but he can score some goals too."

What would happen if the two were separated?

"Nobody knows the answer," Patrick said. "We did consider taking just one, but we needed a couple of players, and they both were available."

NOTES: Tom Barrasso is expected to start in goal for the Penguins tonight. Ken Wregget is slated to get his first start of the season Saturday against visiting Florida. ... Ron Francis and Garry Valk sat out practice Thursday.  Constantine said Francis' practice time will be limited this season so that he is fresh into the playoffs. ... Francis and former Hartford Whalers teammate Kevin Dineen will renew acquaintances tonight. Dineen captains the Hurricanes. The two played together for seven seasons and are good friends.   "It's always a pleasure," Dineen said. "I'm a big fan of Ron Francis." ... Hurricanes defenseman Jeff Brown, the team's best point man on the power play, is questionable with a sore back. Carolina coach Paul Maurice, 30, is the youngest coach in professional sports.

Copyright 1997  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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