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Pens' Asham hopes to avoid typecasting after gesture

Pittsburgh Penguins' Arron Asham mocks Washington Capitals' Jay Beagle after knocking him to the ice and bloodying his nose during a fight in the third period of their NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 13, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Cohn

Jason Cohn/Reuters

Pittsburgh forward Arron Asham is still saying sorry for a couple of crude gestures he made after punching out Washington Capital Jay Beagle last Thursday.

"I don't want my career to be defined by me making a couple of stupid gestures," Asham said today after the Penguins practised before tonight's game against Winnipeg.

"I wish I could take it back. I'd love to take it back, but I can't."

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Asham has apologized since the incident, in which he mocked Beagle as he laid on the ice in a pool of blood, and said he had a couple of "sleepless nights" over it. The NHL has said it won't penalize him.

Asham said he spoke Monday with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice-president of player safety and director of hockey operations.

"I had a good conversation with Shanahan yesterday about it. I guaranteed that it's not going to happen again. I'm still going to fight but none of that [stuff]"

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma stood by his player. "He didn't feel good about doing it," Bylsma said today.

He added that he will be expecting a lot out of Asham tonight, partly because the Penguins have lost another player to injury. Forward Tyler Kennedy has concussion like symptoms and won't be playing. The club is already without star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as well as Brooks Orpik and Dustin Jeffrey.

"He'll be playing a bigger role," Bylsma said referring to Asham. "I'm moving him up in our line up tonight, so I'm looking for Arron to have a big game."

Asham will get a boost from some fans in the crowd. He comes from Portage la Prairie, Man., about an hour outside Winnipeg, and dozens of family and friends will be in the stands. One Portage area school group is making a trip for the game and Asham said he is expecting his parents as well as "uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews a couple of dogs a couple of cats. They got everything coming."

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