TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. David Morehouse’s power in the organization can be seen with the decision for now not to even evaluate the General Manager and head coach positions. Morehouse a strong supporter of keeping Jim Rutherford, has won out and some left overs from the Shero regime could be hitting the bricks very soon.
Word is Morehouse has been given a mandate not to add cost and cost cutting (front office– more on this later) is expected throughout the organization other than player payroll, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned. The directive from ownership has also been that under no circumstances will management be given the authority to consider a trade for Evgeni Malkin. All of the decisions being made right now are financially driven with a primary eye on the ‘value’ of the franchise. Questions are only going to continue to mount whether Ron Burkle remains in it for the long haul. Time will tell.
2. Mike Johnston’s primary goal this season was to evolve the Penguins into a defensive team. Don’t look for that mindset to change next season or his system of being focused on offense generated from the defensemen joining the play. This is the type of hockey he believes in.
“Really when I looked at this group early in the year, I wanted to get our goals against down,” Johnston said Sunday. “I wanted to make sure were a comfortable team in those 1-0, 2-1 games.”
“If you look at the stretch, our goals against were down, we were good defensively.”
Johnston has even got some players on board that becoming a generic offensive team is the way to go. Brandon Sutter who scored 21 goals this season is one of them.
“Transformed way we played,” Sutter said on Sunday of the Penguins becoming a defensive team at the expense of an offensive team. “[We] played really well defensively. We paid much more attention to defensive side of things and your offense is going to change a bit when you do that. In playoffs when you only give up one, two, maybe three goals against, you give yourself a great chance to win.”
This type of style could work if you had a forward group of finishers that could provide timely scoring. Those type of players won’t be found over night.
3. Don’t discount Jim Rutherford trying to bring back Daniel Winnik who has 0 goals in 33 career playoff games. When the Penguins traded for Winnik, who ended up being a disaster, just 2 shots on goal in five games vs Rangers and a minus-6, Rutherford told others in the organization he was comfortable giving up a second round pick for Winnik because he was a player he envisioned keeping after this season. That message was also sent to Winnik’s agent and there’s no indication Rutherford’s view has changed of Winnik. Rutherford will meet with the media tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Look for him to be in spin mode when it comes to his trade acquisitions like Winnik and Ben Lovejoy.
4. Todd McLellan, one of the top coaching candidates on the open market that every team is expected to be after, will be coaching Sidney Crosby in the World Championships. I can already picture it happening — Crosby has a great tournament and his camp starts leaking how much Crosby loved playing for McLellan. That said, there might not be a more over-rated coach in the business.
5. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were giddy today about the outside linebacker group in the draft. They said it’s a group with 10-15 impact players, calling it an “exceptional” group. The Steelers are destined to draft an OLB by the second round and it’s going to be fascinating whether they go away from getting a smallish backer like Jarvis Jones and go back to targeting LaMarr Woodley types. Based on the Steelers believing Jones is still going to be a very good one, probably not. Some of the smaller backers (in weight), Randy Gregory (6-5, 235) for one, who many believe will fall to the late teens/20’s, has strength concerns like Jones does and did coming into the NFL, but the difference is Gregory has explosive speed. Linebackers who weigh under 245 lbs are always a concern.