Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
You certainly get the sense that this may be the point at which the Penguins and Capitals aren’t really linked any more, or at least not as much. They’re as different as they are alike.
Players like Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf and Anze Kopitar have caught up to Nos. 87 and 8 when it comes to the best and brightest of NHL stars.
Beyond that, nobody sees Pittsburgh and Washington as teams with limitless futures any more.
The golden talents of Crosby and Ovechkin allowed these two clubs to exist above the muck for years. Now they’re in it with most everybody else.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Crosby's playoff performance is fair game for criticism. He wasn't very good last season, either, when the Penguins were swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final. He didn't have a point in the four games. You expect so much more from the so-called best player in the world, the man who ran away with the NHL scoring title this season and surely will be named the MVP when the league hands out its awards next month.
But many of the personal attacks on Crosby since the Rangers series have been unfair, unjustified and untrue. Talk about way over the top. It has been amazing, yet sad, to watch a sports icon here take such a hard fall. It has been so bad in some places for Crosby that even his dad, Troy, has been a target of blame for being too much of a meddling father. It really has been pretty silly.
Crosby is not a bad guy. He is not a bad teammate. He is not a bad captain or a bad leader. Most of all, he is not a coach-killer.
By playing poorly, Crosby didn't do his bosses any favors. It's fair to think general manager Ray Shero wouldn't have been fired if the Penguins had finished off the Rangers, no matter how they would have done against the Montreal Canadiens in the next round.
from CBS Pittsburgh,
Former Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman joined Bob Pompeani on his Saturday show on The Fan to talk about the Pens’ current situation as they search for a new general manager and possibly a new head coach.
Bowman worked closely with NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre Maguire who has been rumored to be a possible candidate for the open general manager position with the Pens.
He tells Bob that Maguire has been a candidate recently for many open positions and that he has a real desire to return to a team.
“He has a good broad knowledge of amateur hockey,” Bowman said. “But the big thing he has going for him for me is that he has a lot of connections. He has kept up with the hockey league. He is a hard worker. His knowledge of the NHL would be very high for sure.”
Bowman also told Bob that he thinks injuries played a huge role in the Pens early exit from the playoffs this year and he doesn’t think the window for this team to win another Stanley Cup has closed.
from John Steigerwald of the Indiana Gazette,
Maybe Sidney Crosby should just quit.
It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. He shared a home with the former Best Player in the World, who quit when he was 31 years old.
Yep. That’s what Mario Lemieux did after the 1996-97 season, and when he did it, everybody understood. They knew he was fed up with the stupidity of the NHL. If you were around back then, you remember that Lemieux made it known that he was going to retire after that season, so it wasn’t a shock when the guy who led the league in scoring with 50 goals and 72 assists decided to pack it in.
Think about that for a second. This wasn’t a broken-down player who was struggling to play up to the ridiculous standard that he had set for himself. This was a 50-goal scorer saying he’d had enough with the NHL’s refusal to enforce the rules and was walking away. Not to become a team executive or owner. That would come later. He was headed for the golf course and as far away as he could get from the game he loved.
That just doesn’t happen in sports.
The most talented player ever to pick up a hockey stick just couldn’t deal with the stupidity anymore.
Well, guess what? The stupidity is back. Big-time.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Since when did Mike Babcock become the next Scotty Bowman?
There seems to be sentiment out there that Babcock, the Detroit Red Wings coach, would solve all that ails the Penguins. That belief is so strong among many in the Penguins fan base that they virtually are willing to write off next season to wait for Babcock, who has a year left on his contract and said he won’t leave Detroit until after the youngest of his three children graduates from high school next spring. That’s crazy for a couple of reasons. One, Babcock might not leave Detroit at all. And two, he’s not another Bowman, who won nine Stanley Cups as a coach and four more as an administrator. No one is, of course....
By some measurables, Bylsma has been a more successful NHL coach than Babcock. Bylsma’s regular-season winning percentage is .670, Babcock’s with Detroit, .654. Bylsma’s playoff winning percentage is .551, Babcock’s with Detroit, .557. Since 2009, when Bylsma’s Penguins beat Babcock’s Red Wings to win the Cup in seven games, the “underachieving” Penguins have gone 4-5 in postseason series, the Red Wings, 3-5. The Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 under Babcock, beating Michel Therrien’s Penguins in six games.
Many will say not to blame Babcock for the Red Wings coming up short the past five seasons, that the team didn’t have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But a strong argument can be made that Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom (for the first three of the five seasons) provided a pretty solid foundation in Detroit. If the Penguins underachieved, didn’t the Red Wings?
One of the more compelling reasons being pushed for the Penguins trying to get Babcock at all costs is that he would make Crosby happy.
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
If you didn't know better, you'd be looking for blood on Crosby's hands in the wake of Ray Shero's beheading and the pending demise of Dan Bylsma. You'd think he tried to orchestrate the palace coup.
Set aside, for a moment, Crosby's paltry playoff numbers. This is bigger than that. It's about the way he comported himself.
It's about the mysteriously early exits from power plays, the drifting to the bench in the middle of shifts, the uncharacteristic snapping at the coach and the perpetually blank look on his face.
If we find out he was badly injured, different story. But there is no evidence of that. The evidence suggests Crosby was unhappy and wanted the world to know it.
There are some who can't help but make excuses for Crosby. Sid's Sycophants. They have pitted him against Evgeni Malkin since the latter arrived, always favoring Sid.
You know what you'll get every night from Sid, they'd say. But Geno? Geno's too unpredictable. Geno at his worst evokes the shadowy side of Jaromir Jagr.
Yeah, that's it: Sid is Mario; Geno is Jagr.
Well, who looked like the moody, easily frustrated, coach-killer version of Jagr in these playoffs? And who looked more like Lemieux, laying it on the line in Game 7 and putting up a conference-leading point total through two series?
Imagine if Crosby were leading the conference in scoring and Malkin had one goal in his past 18 playoff games. Do you think the Sycophants would be finding excuses for Malkin?
Sounds like ownership trying to distance itself from some of the mess the team currently finds itself in after annual attempts to bring in pieces to another Stanley Cup puzzle fell short.
Did Shero really acquire Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen at last year's deadline without getting ownership's blessing? Come on.
And, going back further, did ownership not push Shero to grab Marian Hossa (and Pascal Dupuis) from Atlanta? Or Bill Guerin?
-Scott Burnside of ESPN where you can read more on the Penguins...
The Pittsburgh Penguins have scheduled a news conference for 11:30am ET today.
You can watch it below and as Bob McKenzie reported, Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma have been fired.
added 11:36am, Penguins release is below, no mention of Bylsma being fired but in the press conference, it was mentioned the new GM will evaluate the coaching position.
added 11:43am, Press conference is over.
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
The Pittsburgh Penguins will hold a news conference today at 11:30 a.m. in the media room at CONSOL Energy Center.
added 9:43am, Here you go..
added 9:54am, another McKenzie tweet,
PIT assistant GM Jason Botterill likely to take over on an interim basis. Shero likely to immediately become frontrunner for GM job in WSH.
from Wes Crosby at NHL.com,
Two days after being eliminated by the New York Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Second Round, Penguins players reflected on another failed Stanley Cup Playoff run but avoided looking toward the future. They were consistent in their belief that the relationship between the players and coach Dan Bylsma and his staff was not fractured.
"You're going to hear a lot of that stuff and a lot of negativity and a lot of different rumors," captain Sidney Crosby said. "That's normal when you lose, and there's always people looking for reasons. But if we win [Game 7 against New York] we don't have to answer these questions. But that's the difference between winning and losing."
Crosby would not speak on if he thought a coaching change is necessary.
"I think that's for other people to decide," he said. "When you don't meet the expectations … I think you understand as an athlete and as being part of this team that the expectations are high, and if you don't deliver you have to own up to that as players and as an organization. So I think we all understand that.
"It's part of the way it works and we'll see what happens from here."
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org