Just a Few Penguins’ Thoughts Before Things Heat Up

I hope that everyone here in the lower 48 had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend.

To all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedoms, a very heartfelt thank you.


In terms of news out of Penguins’ camp, there isn’t much, but here are a few quick-hit thoughts from what I do know regarding the Pens’ ongoing search for a new GM:

  1. Jason Botterill – Former assistant GM to Ray Shero and current interim GM. Ownership stated that Botterill would be a candidate for the opening, and it is my opinion that he is the front-runner based on his talent managing the NHL’s salary cap and his knowledge of the Penguins’ roster and farm system.
  2. Pat Brisson – Sidney Crosby’s agent and good friend to co-owner Mario Lemieux. His name just won’t go away despite his stated lack of interest in the job. There is no doubt that this would be a huge conflict of interest, not to mention that Crosby would need to find a new agent. Not something I’m sure he wants to deal with.
  3. Julien BriseBois – Current assistant GM in Tampa Bay under Steve Yzerman. Like Botterill, BriseBois is a wiz with the salary cap, and is considered one of the league’s up-and-coming assistant general managers who is just about due to land his own gig.
  • Rossi further notes that ownership is seeking someone who has a successful track record in both scouting and player development. Each of these departments seemed to suffer under Shero’s guidance.
  • One thing that leapt off the page while reading Rossi’s blog was this:

“Bylsma has two years remaining on his contract, and Penguins ownership is said to be growing comfortable with the potential for him to return for next season.”

Huh? In an interview with Lemieux, co-owner Ron Burkle, and team president and CEO David Morehouse conducted by Tribune-review columnist Dejan Kovacevic just after the announcement of Ray Shero’s firing, Kovacevic and Burkle had this exchange:

“DK: What’s the best way to describe how disappointed you guys are? I know how you felt about Ray as a GM and person. How disappointed must you be to have reached this point?

Burkle: I think we looked hard at ourselves last year. We spent a lot of time sitting in this very room last year, trying to figure out what changes should we make, what should we do. And we made the decision to bring another coach in and have a look, see if we could be more flexible, try to adapt between how we were playing in the regular season and in the playoffs.

DK: Jacques Martin.

Burkle: Yes. And Ray made a strong argument for what he wanted to do, for the continuity he wanted, for extending the contracts, all the stuff you know about. I think the piece that was added, really by Mario, and that was embraced by Ray was to bring the other coach in and change the ability to adapt to situations. And if you look back at that today, in some ways, I wish we hadn’t made that bet. Because that’s another year. So if we’re disappointed, it’s that we lost a year to the change that we should have made already.”

So let me see if I understand this: After the 2013 campaign, ownership was in favor of firing Bylsma, but Shero convinced them otherwise. At Lemieux’s behest, Jacques Matin was brought in as an extra set of eyes, and a different voice in terms of making adjustments.

Now, ownership has done a complete 180 and as Rossi said, seems to warming up to the idea of keeping Dan Bylsma around. Ownership (who the actual quote belongs to in unknown to me) has even gone so far as to say that if the new GM wants to fire Bylsma, they will want justification as to why.

Dan Bylsma, along with his assistant coaches, will be returning behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench next season. (Pensryourdaddy / Picasa)
Could Dan Bylsma actually be behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench next season? (Pensryourdaddy / Picasa)

I’m thoroughly confused by all of this. I’ve sat with it for a while, and the only thing that I can come up with is that Dan Bylsma’s regular season success is playing a HUGE role in ownership’s (somewhat) support of him. Which implies to me that ownership, perhaps at the direction of the former politician Morehouse, is almost (I said almost) more concerned with the sellout streak than the Stanley Cup or its playoffs.

After a slow week as it pertains to Penguins’ news, it would seem that things will be heating up this week over at Pens’ HQ. We should have something worthy of being branded “BREAKING NEWS” in the next week or two. Should be interesting in the coming days.

Inbox is TDTorraoTHW@gmail.com




2 thoughts on “Just a Few Penguins’ Thoughts Before Things Heat Up”

  1. Do you only think one way and not question what you type objectively? I think you’re over thinking this process or you’ve got tunnel vision. First off both Shero and Bylsma needed to go, but the Pens did the smart thing and they blocked Washington or Carolina from scooping both or either up. If the Pens ARE SO WORRIED ABOUT THE SELLOUT STREAK – I don’t care about you saying almost bc you’ve mentioned this on other articles as well, so obviously you think this is a big deal- don’t you think bringing Bylsma back would almost guarantee this streak ends? Sure they have had regular season success and he is the all-time wins leader as the Pens coach, but this fan base isn’t naive like the Pirates fans are. Everyone knows bringing Bylsma back with his two moronic assistants- especially the inept Todd Reirden- equals ANOTHER playoff flame out. The Pgh media mainly Rossi and his ” sources” have sabotaged both the players and Bylsma. If I can see that Bylsma is one dimensional obviously 66 see’s this. His only way of adapting is to double shift 87 or for 87 and 71 to skate together. His style of play is great for the regular season but fails in the playoffs. If for some strange reason Bylsma does stay it will only be bc Burkle and Lemieux are waiting to see if Babcock signs an extension or they’re eyeing someone else. They also could be waiting to see what happens at the owners/GM meeting regarding teams contacting assistants/coaches/ and gm’s of other teams who are under contract. This will be voted on and so will be possibly trading head coaches. However, if Bylsma remains head coach I have a very good feeling his assistants won’t be back especially Reirden. Bylsma’s tweaks to Therrien’s offense worked in 2009 but it was Therrien’s defensive system kept in tact by Yeo and Fitzgerald that was the biggest difference. With the Bylsma trio they have 3 good cops and that isn’t going to work inside a room that lacks leadership. If everything the Trib reported with their ” sources” was true – which I doubt, bc Rossi is usually wrong – there is NO way the cohesiveness is there between player and coach for a successful run at the cup. The window for the Pens isn’t closed just yet and 87 and 71 aren’t all that old but at 27 and 28 at next seasons start the window is slowly closing and you would think that those two have 7 seasons left at a pretty high pace barring injuries.

  2. I live in Pittsburgh, and I’ve been following all of this stuff super closely. I have to say, I just don’t know what is going on.

    Before the season ended, all the sports writers, and radio talk show hosts, were saying that Bylsma is just way to easy on the players, and they are all buddies, and there is no accountability. Then it comes out that the players have grown tired of Dan’s long meetings, and harsh criticisms of the superstars on the team. That seemed like a complete contradiction to what we heard all year.

    Then, it’s reported that ownership wants Bylsma out, and is split on what to do about Shero. When the press conference happens, Shero is fired, and Bylsma is still on the payroll. Again, complete contradiction to what we had been hearing.

    Now, about half of the media in Pittsburgh says that there is no way that Bylsma will be remain the head coach. While the other half seems to be saying, the longer this goes on, the more they think that Bylsma might just be the coach to start next season. More contradictions.

    Seems to me that nobody has a clue what’s going to happen. Not even the Penguins. This has really been a mess. While it makes for an interesting start to the off-season, it also shows how completely unorganized the Penguins front office is. Seems like no one wants to make the hard decisions. That needs to change.

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