I know that all of you couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of my annual State of the Pens post so I figured I wouldn't make ya wait lol. It's the official closure of the season post and the discussion on what needs to be done. Write well because as we all know the entire Pens organization follows all these posts on huntingpa and will take everything we (moreso ME because I am a hockey genious!) say into consideration.
Anyhow! As I've said all season....LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU'RE 2009-2014 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS!!!!. I cant recall who posted it last night but they said that this was the first year that they weren't shocked, sad, or surprised by an epic collapse. Why? because we ALL expected it and everyone of us knew it was coming whether you put on the happy face or not. The second there was no significant change leading into the season the outcome of this year had already been written despite what the Sunshine Crew (Major fan of JasonN by the way!!) had to say about rainbows and lolly pops. If what Bushmaster says in the other post is true and that they will just tinker with the roster cause it isn't that broke then we will have to welcome our 2009-2015 Pittsburgh Penguins to the ice next year. Right now, as currently constructed and managed there is a next to 0% chance of this team ever winning a cup again in this Era. None! As I've said the last two year the team needs HUGE sweeping change. You literally have nothing to lose at this point by making massive changes. What's the worst that will happen???? Theyll fail epically in the playoffs?? Oh wait! That's an annual tradition these days.
So let's look at the only constants that are not changing on the teams. Mario, Burkel, and Crosby (More on him in a second). Those 3 obviously arent going anywhere since two are the owners lol and one from a marketing standpoint is unmoveable at any point in time. So if I were Mario this would be my set of movements.
1. I would soooooooo reluctantly and painfully release Dan Bylsma. That or fire Shero and keep Danno. I vomit in my mouth just typing fire Bylsma because deep down inside I feel very strongly that this is not a Bylsma problem but instead a players or GM problem. I think if a new GM was in place and got new players that it would work better but in the end I doubt the GM is on the chopping stone and it is 100% on the coach to have the players he has ready to play at the required intensity level. I trust the Bylsma system cause I've seen it work. It's not very complicated and a team full of caveman could operate it but when you have players that refuse to adhere then in the end its the coaches inability to command the respect he needs to make them. Bylsma has to go. And make no mistake that he will be unemployed for approximately 10 seconds and he will be extremely successful and probably win more then one cup without toxic organization killing superstarts on his team. You put him in as any other coach aside from Washington and they are rock stars immediately. I picture him in Carolina with a team full of tough committed north south players. He'll dominate the east there. But he can't with Crosby as his captian. With your caption committed to playing east west hockey at all costs. That combo will never win another title. And since Crosby isnt leaving......Dan has to
Honorable mention #1. It's a pipe dream but TRADE CROSBY and keep Bylsma. If I had to choose between the two I would choose Bylsma. Crosby, while clearly the most talented player in the world, is a paper champion at best. His mind is weak, his leadership is the worst in the NHL, and the example he sets is "epic fail in the second round' type of stuff every year. He's a silver spoon baby that has been told he was the greatest thing ever since he was able to skate and there is no coach on this planet next to maybe Mike Babcock that will get his full and complete respect. Since he was given....handed the C without earning it over time like most other captain it's been the death sentence of the teams demeanor. He is not a captian plain and simple. Orpik should have been the captian all this time. Everyone knows it. To me he still hasn't earned it. Just look at how he acts on the ice. He's honest to god like a highschooler out there. Whining and crying to the refs about off sides and missed calls. I wish that he would do the right thing and pass the C to a more worthy guy but that will never happen because the best player on the team should be the captain lol??? I'll take heat for this but I would trade Crosby and leave the rest alone. That would be enough HUGE change. NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN THOUGH SO BE EASY ON ME LOL!!!
2. Trade James Neal. This is a absolute MUST. I know you're losing a potential 40 goal scoring but the attitude he brings to the team is toxic. The penalties he takes are toxic, the suspensions he gets are toxic, and amount of time he loses to injury is toxic. What he brings to this group is far outweighed the by the negatives. Plus he folds up yearly like a cheap suite in the post season. Trade him for what you can get and move on.
3. Trade Letang. I'm not even sure that he's tradeable with his curent health scares and $7 mil+ contract kicking in soon but if I could trade him for a David Justice Rookie Card I would take the trade. A true salary dump would be fine. That contract more then any other will be the end of any stanley cup chance in this era of Pens hockey. I dont need to say I told you say over and over on this one (but I will
) but he's not a very good or should I say smart player and that is NEVER going to change. What you see is what you get and what you get is a team killer at big moments with stupid plays. Plus his contract is worth 2-3 great players on the open market, one of which is Matt Nisky who I would take in a nano second over Letang and for about $5 vs. $7.9. It was a horrible contract and enough reason for me to fire Shero alone without anyting else being taken into consideration. Trade Letang for whatever you can get. Trading him alone would be enough significant change to make a large enough impact to improve the outlook next year. They wont but I am right here. Remeber....I'm a genious!! Dont question me!!!!
4. Keep Brandon Sutter LONG TERM. That dude is money!! Enough said. Awesome third like center.
5. Keep Goc and Stempy and actually form a viable 3rd line. Those three were the lone bright spot of the playoffs to me (outside of Malkin). All three performed under the hot lights. It's time to reward Sutter with linemates, something he's never had and been very unfairly persecuted for.
5. Fluery....Ugh....as much as I hate to admit it I dont see him as the problem right now. I see bigger fish to fry this year. With how hard it will be to move him the best thing to do at this time is just let him play out his final year and make the change after next. I really dont think there is a team in this league that would trade even that David Justice Rookie card for him lol. He is the least trusted player in the NHL and that race isn't even close. Nobody is taking him for that 6 mil plus contract so like it or hate it he is our goalie next year so hopefully the change on defense and coaching will make enough of a difference.
6. DO NOT resign Brooks Orpik or Adams. Both have to move on. They have to. Adams doens't get you much but that Orpik money with valuable. I dont hate either but it's just time to professionally part ways. Nisky.....maybe????
7. Keeping........Jussi, Kunitz, Duper, Bennett, Gibbons, Martin, Scuderi, Matta. All the other role players I am finding a way to lose them all and change. Change them all and try it out.
8. New Coach.....who???? Look no further then Jauque Martin!! Unless there is someone else out there that is super inviting which I dont see he is my man and fast. I have a hunch that is why he was hired in the first place. He will NOT be the players friend. He will also not be their enemy like Therrien was. He'll be their COACH which is what the'll need. Gone with be whiffle ball games and Mustache boy. Gone will be the super relaxed country club setting. I dont care if the Pens for 20-63 next year. That sense of entitlement and relaxed atmosphere needs to leave. Earn your money like the rest of us with a honest days work!! (on hpa lol!!) If they are going to make the paying public suffer through this crap then they need to suffer a little more too. Martin for coach....Martin for COACH!!!!!
And there you have it. Look, it's not like the Penguins way is working anyhow. We can't draw bigtime free agents as year after year they go the other way. They dont like what they see either. Whats the risk in MAJOR change at this point. The window is full open right now for the Crosby Era to win titles. It starts it's way closing next year. You have about 5-7 years max to make it work. There is no time to waste. They've wasted enough.
But in the end I fear that even sweeping changes will all be for naught. It's painfully obvious to me that Crosby may be the biggest problem of all and one that cannot be overcome. It's not his play but his presence in general. A player like Crosby simply cannot win in todays NHL. The way the rules are enforced does not support winning with him on your team. Superstars and cap space also make championships impossible. So in the end they can change everything they want but the Pens will forever be a cross check to the back of the neck with no call away from a Crosby, their Captain, melt down and the team following suite. That is a constant that will never change. Todays NHL does not support Superstars. If you have a superstar you will never win a cup. It's a poison you have to pick. Besides, to me Crosby and Malkin aren't superstars. They may be in todays NHL but neither are comparable to Mario or Jagr to me. They are the best today has to offer but even ordinary players like Dubinsky can stop them. Imagine Dubinsky 1 v 1 on Jagr lol. That would have NEVER worked in a million years.
In closing none of what we saw this year was a surprise. In fact it all went EXACTLY as expected. I'll close this with exactly what I closed it with last year......Without massive seeping change the same exact outcome will happen next year and the next and the next after that.
Next year I'll just cut and past this and change a few names lol.