The Pittsburgh Penguins made a staff move contrary to the general consensus Friday. Instead of relieving Dan Bylsma from his head coaching duties (for now), the team fired general manager Ray Shero. Owners believed it was time to take the team in another direction after the Penguins blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Shero was hired by Pittsburgh in 2006 and was given the job of building a winning team around Sidney Crosby. Since Shero’s hiring, the Penguins have not missed the playoffs — appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and winning it all in 2009. However, “underachieving” plagued the Penguins the next five years in the postseason.
Said team CEO/President David Morehouse:
Our ownership group, led by Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, felt that it was time to move the franchise in a new direction. Like our fans, they’ve been very disappointed with our early exits in the playoffs. They made this decision because we believe new leadership can help us get back on track and achieve our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.
How does this connect to the Nashville Predators — other than the fact that Shero was a former assistant GM to David Poile? It gave fans in Smashville a reality check of how far away the franchise is from having the winning attitude. The ownership in Pittsburgh had enough with lack of Stanley Cups, but in Nashville, despite not making a playoff appearance in the last two seasons after qualifying for seven of the previous eight, the owners have yet to call out Poile for his mediocrity.
One of the best teams in the league has the balls to fire their GM, but the #preds don’t
— Jake McGowan (@jake_cake22) May 16, 2014
Given, Nashville is still a relatively young team in the League compared to Pittsburgh, but the winning attitude (or lack there of) is what has kept the franchise from not hitting the third round milestone.
Former Penguins head coach Michel Therien had a complete team from top-to-bottom that allowed them to win the Cup in 2009, thanks to Shero. In comparison, the best team Poile has put together was during the 2011-12 season when he acquired with Paul Gaustad, Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov in their run for the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Although the team looked elite on paper, the postseason-plague continued in Nashville. After defeating the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round, the Predators were eliminated in the second round to the Phoenix Coyotes in five games.
Certainly, Shero’s firing was a ridiculously bone-headed move by the ownership, but the unfulfilled, high expectations is what inevitably made the decision easy for them. Big-market clubs like the Penguins, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, or Montreal Canadiens, where the Cup-winning attitude is present, would not have Poile retain his job for the upcoming season. The firing of former head coach Barry Trotz, who has been with the team since their inaugural season, is a start in sniffing the winning attitude, but the Predators have a ways to go.