Blog Entry

Easy way out

Posted on: February 16, 2009 7:24 am

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired coach Michel Therrien because it was the convenient thing to do. Things go bad, you blame the coach especially one that is reputedly not all that popular with the players.

Sometimes it even works, but in this case Therrien isn't the problem. And having a new voice behind the bench isn't going to salvage what has become a disappointing and embarrassing season for the organization.

The reality is the Penguins are nothing like the young team Therrien molded into a Stanley Cup Finalist last spring. They still have two of the game's greatest players in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but both are still very young and not ready or capable of being the kind of leader that lift teammates up by the boot straps.

More important, their supporting cast has been missing, often in action.  Pittsburgh's inability to re-sign sniper Marian Hossa in the summer left a gaping hole in the offense, one that Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko haven't done a very good job of filling despite playing along side the superstars. But the bigger problem has been the departures of gritty players like Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Jarkko Ruutu whose contributions didn't always appear in the scoresheet. Those are the guys who got down and did the dirty work for Pittsburgh last season and that type of sandpaper is the biggest thing missing from the Penguins game this season.

So they blame the coach. Therrien had to struggle through half the season without two of his best offensive defensemen -- Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney -- and without the ability to turn to a Ty Conklin, who stepped in so brilliantly last season when starting goalie Marc Andre Fleury was injured.  Whitney returned around Christmas and Gonchar came back Saturday night just in time to watch Fleury turn into a sieve in Toronto when the Pens allowed six unanswered goals to lose to one of the league's worst teams.

That debacle became the tipping point and the coach took the hit. It's a time tested tradition in hockey, one that sometimes creates a miracle but only if the right players are in place. That's not the case in Pittsburgh and Therrien is taking the fall for it.


Category: NHL

Since: Feb 20, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2009 10:01 am

Easy way out

yes blame it on the coach. a losers way out. it's ray that should have been let go. with the heart of the team intact with sid and malkin, ray let the soul out of the team not signing and holding on to key players. there power play sucks, they can barely score on a 5 on 4 let alone a easy 5 on 3. mario needs to let go the management soon. with all the sale out in the arena the fans deserve to see a winning team especially after last years run.also the players need to step it up and quit complaining and start playing the game. defense offense its all the same. play it at 100% or get out.

Since: Apr 23, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2009 9:43 am

Easy way out

I fully agree with on this one, you cant blame the coach, this is a GM's fault.  I still say that the best player for the Pens last year in the Stanley Cup Finals was Ryan Malone and letting him go was what killed this team.  Everytime the Pens needed a boost, Malone went out and had a great shift that started to turn the momentum back in favor of the Pens.  Teams need those energy line groups that go out and for 40 seconds fly around and cause chaos.  That was the role of Malone, Rutto and Roberts.  They are skilled guys are being pest and they help swing the tempo of the game.

The great teams have that third/fourth line that gives them the team an energy kick.  Because I am a wing fan I know more about the Wings then other teams, but the Sharks have a great third line that hits and grinds.  The Wings have the line of Maltby/Draper/Cleary-Kopecky-Helm-M

cCarty or who ever they want to fill in on that right wing.  The Wings Grind Line is never going to be a huge point production line, but for their shift they are going to back check hard, hit the corners at full speed, and just make sure they cause enough chaos to get a team off its game.

Since: Oct 25, 2006
Posted on: February 16, 2009 8:46 am

Bad Move!

This was the easy way out.  It wasn't Therrien's fault that they couldn't sign a free agent that could semi fill the hole left by Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, and Marian Hossa.  They brought Matt Cooke in and he has been playing great but he is none of those players.  He has some grit but he can't replace those three guys.  The problem is the Penguins had no backup plan for if Hossa doesn't resign.  They couldn't have or Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko wouldn't have been their best pickups other than Cooke. 

Ray Shero needs to take some blame here as well.  He didn't have a qualified backup like Conklin (who was also lost in the offeason).  When Fleury went down there was no one to fill the void.  Danny Sabourin was at best terrible most of the time he played. 

The players also need to take some blame here.  They have 3 of the top young centers in the league in Evgeni Malkin(received a contract this summer), Sidney Crosby(signed a contract last summer) and Jordan Staal(who just received a nice new contract).  Jordan Staal is a guy who absolutely has to do more if they are going to pay a 3rd line center more than 4 Million per year.  They have 2 projected great offensive defenseman in Kris LeTang and Alex Goligoski but they couldn't fill the void of losing Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney for the larger portion of this season with Gonchar only coming back the last game. 

Marc Andre Fleury has been ok at best this season.  The big contract that he received now looks questionable after having a solid stretch run last season to lead them to the Stanley Cup finals.

It wasn't Michael Therrien's fault that Ray Shero couldn't bring in a descent free agent/s to fill the void left by some of those key free agents they lost after the Cup run but he got fired for it.  It wasn't Therrien's fault that his 2 best offensive defenseman were hurt all year and the powerplay coincedentally sputtered for the good portion of the season.  But hey, the easy way out is to blame the coach, which to me in sports is ridiculous but they have always been the scape goat for overpaid players and the stubborn and also ignorant management.

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