I am not ROOTING for Dan Bylsma to get FIRED. Hardly.
I root for the LOGO. What’s best for the LOGO? Disco is a nice guy. But so am I. If my ratings drop, I get FIRED.
Are Bylsma’s ratings high enough? To be determined.
If Bylsma continues as coach, changes seem necessary:
*A bad-cop assistant. Rick Tocchet comes to mind. At some level, the players need to hear a different voice. Bylsma and his assistants, Tony Granato and Todd Reirden, are cut from exactly the same cloth.
Problem: A bad-cop assistant might not be change enough. And the bad cop, whoever he is, would have to get along with Bylsma and share a similar philosophy. Tension is OK. It can’t escalate to conflict.
*A bigger commitment to pedigree, less of an allegiance to try-hard guys. Deryk Engelland and Joe Vitale played ahead of Simon Despres and Beau Bennett. An immediate commitment to the latter two at season’s end admits that mistakes were made.
Problem: Believe it when you see it. Bylsma prefers what he prefers. Mark Letestu on the ice, Alex Kovalev on the bench. Remember?
*A commitment to the way the Penguins play. Don’t go off the board on a hunch. The Penguins tried to outhit Boston. They won that battle, but lost the war. The Penguins are high-octane. Be true to that. Always.
Problem: Bylsma likes to be right, usually is, and believes he always is. No adjustments until down two games vs. the Bruins. That’s what happens when you win the Stanley Cup in your fifth month as an NHL head coach. Trust your own judgment, yes…but don’t think you’re infallible.
*Don’t be stubborn. If something doesn’t work and alternatives exist, TRY PLAN B. HAVE A PLAN B.
Problem: Bylsma IS stubborn. Jarome Iginla couldn’t play left wing. But continued to. The power play was ragged. Made the same mistakes over and over. Zero-for-15. The same five players kept going out there.
Some suggest stability. Keep Bylsma. Stay the course.
But what course are the Penguins on? The window is closing. It may have already slammed shut.
In immediacy, there is honesty. Here are 11 unvarnished tweets I authored the morning after the Penguins got eliminated by Boston.
No.1 - SIGN DUPUIS. Versatile, a leader, and scores a ton of even-strength goals. 3 years, and if he's a 3rd-liner in year 3, that's OK.
No. 2 - Look closely at scouting. That's who F'd up with Iggy and Morrow. Somebody needed to tell Ray these guys were DONE. And that Murray wouldn't fit.
No.3 - Fleury and Letang played their way out of town. Fleury is 28, is what he is, needs change. Letang is good, but can't pay him what he wants.
No.4 - Much respect for Geno. He played hard, didn't produce, but owned losing. Took blame. Said, "I didn't do good enough." Sounded like #66.
No.5 - When Guerin came in, he took over the room. Iggy and Morrow were just glad to be there.
No.6 - Disco would be more comfortable coaching Phoenix or Nashville. Good coach, but can't coach stars, or players of pedigree.
No.7 - Decisions must be made QUICKLY. Season ran long because of the lockout. Mario must be involved with those decisions. HE KNOWS HOW TO WIN.
No.8 - Bringing in a bad-cop assistant won't be enough. A minor tweak won't be enough. When a team with that talent gets swept, there are deep flaws.
No.9 - Dallas Stars giving Gonch 2 years for $10m shows the league-wide malaise of not trusting young players and recycling instead. Pens need to get away from that.
No.10 - Bring in a nailed-on locker-room leader (like Guerin was) and make it clear that's part of his job. Give Dupuis an "A".
No. 11 - Jagr had far more impact with the Bruins - as a leader and example - than any of the Penguins acquisitions had.
I love the Penguins. The logo. The team. The logo and team are forever. Mario Lemieux is forever. Everybody else is temporary.
So, as yet another talent-loaded Penguins team stares down yet another three-games-to-none deficit, forgive me if I ask hard questions on behalf of the logo:
*Dan Bylsma’s refusal to adjust (until it’s too late) has put the Penguins in yet another hole. If you coach like you know everything, you had better be right. Every coach comes with an expiration date. Has Bylsma hit his?
*The Penguins are a get-along gang. In-house tension is rare and inconsequential. The Penguins get rattled by the slightest on-ice angst, especially in big situations. Would the cause be better served by a more demanding sort behind the bench? Michel Therrien had to go when he did. But he built the ’09 Stanley Cup winner.
*How does a team win 15 games in a row during the regular season, then look horrific in losing three straight times to a team they previously beat three straight times? Losing to a good team is one thing. The Pens were brutal in Games 1 and 2.
*How many people involved with the Penguins ever admit mistakes, even privately? Because it sure takes a long time to correct them.
*Why were Beau Bennett and Simon Despres, both first-round picks, buried on the depth chart behind the pride of St. Louis and a Las Vegas Wrangler? The Penguins assigned Bennett and Despres pedigree, then didn’t trust it. Play them. Coach them. Develop them. Use the regular season to prepare them for the playoffs.
If the Penguins lose tonight, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t losing Game 7 in OT. This is a slaughter.
Make no mistake, lack of production from the stars is primarily to blame for what’s happening. But addressing the above might have provided a Plan B.
Love the logo, not the individuals. That’s how things get done.
The Penguins played a gritty five periods last night. But it doesn’t matter.
Dan Bylsma coached an excellent game. But it doesn’t matter.
You can’t wait until Game 3 of a playoff series to play playoff hockey. You can’t wait until Game 3 to dump the hubris and entitlement.
You can’t wait until Game 3 to make adjustments that should have been made during the second intermission of Game 1.
Let’s not sugar-coat: THIS IS UNMITIGATED DISASTER.
There isn’t enough cyber-space to accommodate all the legit criticism. First and foremost, blame the stars. Crosby + Letang + Malkin = 0 points.
But some things are particularly galling. Like Deryk Engelland’s presence on the ice for Boston’s game-winning goal in the second OT.
Engelland is not a conference final-level player. Just isn’t.
Engelland has heart, and grit. But in Bylsma’s “everyone is equal” blueprint, Engelland is rushing the puck and jumping into the play. Round hole, square peg. If you want every defenseman to play the same way, Simon Despres is a round peg.
Despres was, by far, the best defense partner for Kris Letang this season. The Penguins were a nailed-on playoff team before a regular-season game was even played. Dress Despres. Develop Despres. Coach Despres. He’s a first-round pick with incredible upside. Not a former Las Vegas Wrangler.
If Despres isn’t ready, that’s not necessarily all Despres’ fault.
Look at Beau Bennett. He gave the Penguins a spark in the opening game of the playoffs. He’s got speed and skill. Bennett played very well last night.
It was his first game since May 22.
If Byslma wants to coach ECHL players, he should go to Wheeling. His devotion to fringe players who work hard didn’t lose this series for the Penguins.
But it didn’t do anything to help the Penguins win, either.
Turns out Steelers tackle Mike Adams was not in his house at 3 a.m. Sunday, leaving its safety to try and foil a carjacking.
Adams was leaving some joint on the South Side when a gun got stuck in his face. Adams refused to surrender his vehicle, so he got punched and stabbed. If someone puts a gat in my mug, I hand him my keys. At that point, it’s Shults Ford’s problem.
Two of Adams’ assailants got pinched. One remains at large. But it’s probably Kelvin Beachum, the new starter at right tackle. It’s like what Lenin said: You look for the person who will benefit.
The guy with the gun has been identified as an aspiring rapper. Was there every any doubt?
Dquay Means – a/k/a QUAY MEANZ, his nom de rap – is a protégé of Wiz Khalifa. He appeared in Khalifa’s video for “Black and Yellow.” F tha police and Quay said it with authority…
QUAY MEANZ, huh? I used to know QUAY LUDE. #Tubes
Urban stories just don’t come any more clichéd. Gangsta gangsta.
So, why did everybody get the story wrong initially? Why was Adams portrayed as being in the right place at the wrong time? Bad reporting? Steelers PR? A little of both, I’d say.