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Sidney Crosby denies rift with head coach Dan Bylsma

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Sidney Crosby denied a reported rift with coach Dan Bylsma. (USATSI)
Sidney Crosby denied a reported rift with coach Dan Bylsma. (USATSI)

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There are a lot of reports and rumors swirling that Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma's days with the club are numbered and will get his walking papers any day now. One of the reasons, as reported by Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was that there was a disconnect between the team and its head coach, most notably between captain Sidney Crosby and Bylsma.

More from Rossi:

Crosby and Malkin felt they needed one another this season when they grew frustrated with Bylsma, the sources said.

Crosby and Malkin grew disenchanted with perceived harsh criticism they received from Bylsma during meetings, the sources said. They and other veteran players were unhappy with Bylsma's numerous meetings and long practices and the decreasing sense of fun within the Penguins' environment, the sources said.

Ownership believed Bylsma lost the dressing room this season, specifically the support of Crosby and Malkin, the sources said.

With the Penguins holding their breakup day Thursday, with players meeting the media for the final time this season, Crosby was asked directly if there was a disconnect between him and the head coach or the team in general.

Crosby's response (via PensTV):

“No. You're going to hear a lot of that stuff and a lot of negativity and different rumors, so that's normal when you lose. There's always people looking for reasons, but there wasn't that. If we win that game, we wouldn't even have to answer these questions. But that's the difference between winning and losing and having to deal with that.”

Crosby was also asked if he thought the team would need a change.

“Honestly, I don't think it's necessary,” he said. “It's not something that's happened and I don't feel like I need to talk about [making a coaching change] right now. I'm not going to predict the future, I don't know what's going to happen. I'm well aware of all the questions, but we're in this together, whether it's coaches or players.”

Most of Crosby's breakup day media scrum is here:

So Crosby wasn't willing to throw Bylsma under the bus, which isn't much of a surprise, considering Crosby is often very guarded in the media. So whatever his true feelings might be about Bylsma, the public is unlikely to ever know for sure.

Either way, change is coming to the Penguins. Right or wrong, Bylsma is most likely to take the fall, with general manager Ray Shero also in line for a potential ouster.

The one thing of note is that Crosby said he didn't think the team needed to change. His opinion likely carries a lot of weight in that organization, but don't expect the owners to sit idly by after another early playoffs ouster to a lower-seeded team.

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