Sports Magazine

Kipper : If Dan Bylsma Gets Fired, Ray Shero Needs His Pink Slip Too

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
pittsburgh-penguins-v-boston-bruins-20130608-030603-200.jpgThe Pens have been embarrassingly eliminated in the Eastern Conference Championship game by virtue of a Sweep in which they scored 2 goals total over 12+ periods of hockey. This might be one of the biggest choke jobs in modern NHL history considering the amount of talent on the Pittsburgh Penguins team and the way that the Pens dominated the Regular Season. Yes, this choke job surpasses the 1993 Playoff choke job against the Islanders. At least that team scored goals and didn't get swept. This team did.
Now comes the Offseason. Pens fans want nearly everything to be done. Nobody is safe. Dan Bylsma is on the top of most fans lists,Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury... you name them, there are some group of fans that want to see them gone. 4 Playoffs in a row in which the Pens failed to reach the Stanley
Cup Finals in a social media world creates a lot of opinions that people didn't get to see back in the 1990's when those Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ronnie Francis team were choking in the Playoffs annually.
Nobody is safe...
Except GM, Ray Shero.
He shouldn't be. He should be the first management piece to go.
Some will scream blasphemy, some may even call me an ******* or something worse. It doesn't matter, the bottom line is that if you're older enough to have watched the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout the 1990's, then somewhere in your mind you've seen this story before. You've seen a team early on, goto 2 Stanley Cup Finals, back to back, to continue placing immensely talent teams on the ice year after year to make the Playoffs and choke each year. It happened from 1992-93 through 2001. We saw the Pittsburgh Penguins do what every fan always wants them to do when they don't win a Championship - fire coaches at will. They let go of the greatest coach in NHL history - Scottie Bowman because the players felt they could coach the team better. That failed. They used Eddie Johnston for a few seasons after that and the results remained the same. They went to Kevin Constantine and the results remained, Herb Brooks stepped in before a gutted team was handed over to Ivan Hlinka and Rick Kehoe.
The story is on a similar course. The Pittsburgh Penguins will likely fire Dan Bylsma. I don't agree that Dan Bylsma is the problem, but I understand how Professional Sports works and coaches generally have a short shelf life in most instances. Dan Bylsma isn't going to get the Mike Babcock treatment most likely. Does this make the Pittsburgh Penguins better? Does this decision put the Pittsburgh Penguins over the top? Probably not. The most likely candidate to replace Dan Bylsma is Tony Granato.
Tony Granato.
Granto won't be implementing a different system. He will be running Dan Bylsma system who the Pittsburgh Penguins invested heavily in years ago by coordinating its minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to run. The rightfully copied the Detroit Red Wings to have their success of plugging players at the NHL level from the minors without a skip in the beat. If you believe Tony Granato has not had a say in personnel and other decisions before, during and after games, you're delusional. The Pittsburgh Penguins will end up just moving chairs around. Even if they promote Todd Rierden, the same results will ensue. Nothing will change. In the end what Pens fans want are changes for the sake of making changes, not changes that will actually "change" the team or possibly improve it.
If you want a new coach, a new system, a new way of play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, you need to fire Ray Shero too. A new GM will bring in his own guys, his own system, his own vision. Right now, we're 4 seasons past winning the Stanley Cup and the Penguins are starting to look like the same team a lot of us saw in the 1990's. a team lead and constructed by the same GM that went through coaches, went through different systems and produced the same failed results. Look at a coach like Bruce Boudreau. Chased out of Washington for not winning with the team
George McPhee constructed and the Capitals haven't really won since. Goes to Anaheim, the Ducks start making the Playoffs. Every dumb Caps fan wanted Boudreau gone, I bet they'd like to have him back.
The Pens need a new vision. They've become stale. They need to make more improvements in the Offseason than they have. The Pens need to stop holding onto $5 million per year goalies that's dependable and reliable in the
Playoffs. They need to add young legs, true grit and more hands to their 3rd and 4th lines. They need to get younger and sturdier on Defense. The team doesn't need a firesale but from a construction view point it's not being
constructed right now to win in the Playoffs. A different coach doesn't get the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals next year unless they get an easier path (like a mediocre Cinderella Carolina team like they got on the road to winning the Stanley Cup).
Beyond that, tough decisions need to be made. Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury and Chris Kunitz will soon see their contracts come up, some in this offseason. We could get a guy that works out trades that got us James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Obtains Petr Sykora or we could get a guy that gets us Tanner Glass, Zbynek Michalek, Nils Ekman, Miroslav Satan, Alexei Ponikarovsky, passes up Jonathan Towes for
Jordan Staal etc... You have to be skeptical.
pittsburgh-penguins-v-boston-bruins-20130608-030612-858.jpgTruth be told, the Pittsburgh Penguins were constructed by Craig Patrick, Ryan Malone old man, the draft lottery and being bad. Ray Shero inherited - Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury,
Ryan Whitney, Alex Goligoski, Rob Scuderi, Max Talbot all were here when Ray Shero came in. He fixed a poorly constructed Craig Patrick team that was made for the old NHL by building 3rd and 4th lines and old guys retiring along with the impact of Evgeni Malkin joining the team and the rest is history. all of those players above have had big impacts on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Some were turned into successful trades by Ray Shero. However, it was all new and fresh at that time. It was a lot of inexperienced and young hungry players. Now, it's a roster of complacency getting filled by old guys that failed to lead their own teams to the Finals.
My biggest concern with the Pittsburgh Penguins right now and going forward is that this team looks complacently lead as it did throughout the 1990's. The same "leaders" failed to the lead the team in the locker room when it was
needed. Smells like the Pittsburgh Penguins right now. The chairs were moved around often enough lineup wise and through trades that were lauded by fans and the media at the time while failure continued. Not every player can be plugged into a team and it's system and be a success. Not every trade, no matter how sexy it looks will better the team. If all it took was stock piling all of the best talent available (like Ray Shero did in this Trade Deadline), then Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins would have won a few Lombardi Trophies by now. sometimes it happens (late 1990's Florida Marlins), but often times it doesn't (The recent Philadelphia Eagles "dream team").
Team construction is about finding the right players to play alongside existing players. It's about finding the right players for the system your coach and organization deploys. The Pens added Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen, Douglas Murray and Jarome Iginla at the Trade Deadline. Plenty of boxers and panties got wet, but did the Pens need any of those players to make the Playoffs? They obviously didn't help the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup. The Pens were already winning pretty large before they acquired all of these players during the Trade Deadline season. Did ay Shero's trades make the Pittsburgh Penguins better? It's debatable but the Pittsburgh Penguins were just held to 2 goals through 4 games of a series in which they were swept. I don't care who is coaching this team, that much talent should be able to find ways to score on their own.
I don't want to see the Pittsburgh Penguins end up like the 1990's Pittsburgh Penguins that cycled through coaches, Offseason and trade deadline moves, glorifying the GM and the results remaining the same. Craig Patrick should've been fired years and years before he was. Those 1990's teams needed refaced, re-imagined. When Mario wasn't there, they needed a leader, rather than force a quitter like Jaromir Jagr to be one. They needed better goaltending and real defenses built, but they looked great during the Regular Season. They put asses in seats and provided a sense of hope every season as they annually made the Playoffs to end up choking and failing in the end. the Philadelphia Flyers have been making a similar mistake since the 1970's, the Pens should be doing everything in their power to avoid complacency.
So in essentially, by firing Ray Shero, I'm saying goodbye to Dan Bylsma and his coaching staff as well, which would make a lot of Pens fans happy. In firing Ray Shero though, hopefully it brings in a new vision and new focus for this teams construction and future play. A coaching change is just putting deodorant on a body that needs a shower.
Let's give the Pittsburgh Penguins a shower
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