The Penguins’ hiring of Tony Granato as their new assistant coach makes sense: He’s young (45), dynamic and within the framework of what the Penguins have been doing since appointing Dan Bylsma as the team’s coach.
Granato is a former NHL head coach who doubtless wants to be the boss again. It’s gutsy for Bylsma to bring a potential successor on board.
But Bylsma has a pretty long leash after winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie. Anyway, if a coach isn’t winning, his team will find his replacement somewhere.
Granato’s appointment is odd from one standpoint: The Penguins are a high-powered, fast-skating, north-south team.
Last season under Granato, the Avalanche scored just 199 goals, the worst total in the league and the lowest since the lockout year. The Avs played a clichéd dump, chase and cycle style en route to a mark of 32-45-5, last in the West.
But you can’t shine crap. The Avs were not a skilled group, and their octane was further cut by significant injuries to Paul Stastny and now-retired Joe Sakic.
There’s no reason to believe Granato, a former winger who played 13 years in the NHL, won’t be proficient at coaching the penalty-kill and teaching faceoffs, two duties he figures to inherit from press-box icon Tom Fitzgerald, now an assistant to General Manager Ray Shero.
Granato is known for not pointing fingers or shirking responsibility. He’s a stand-up guy. That’s good. It’s a stand-up locker room.
*Like Alex Tanguay last week
the Penguins have reportedly been approached by the agent of free-agent winger Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi, 34, had 15 goals and 29 assists for Calgary last season.
Bertuzzi is looking to sign a one-year deal worth $1.5m. The Penguins might be willing to pay him $600k.
Here’s hoping some other team is dumb enough to pay Bertuzzi what he wants, because the Pens don’t need him.
Bertuzzi would be a marginal upgrade on the second line. But Bertuzzi is a thug who ended a player’s career with a sucker punch from behind.
He strikes me as the anti-Guerin, a veteran with inflated self-worth. Bertuzzi can be lazy, he lacks discipline and he takes a lot of offensive-zone penalties.
Evgeni Malkin likes skating with Max Talbot. That’s important. Why upset that chemistry before giving Talbot a chance to prove he can do the job?
Anyway, the Pens seem unlikely to sign another forward. They will sign another veteran defenseman.
The team’s hockey office is aware of Jay McKee’s injury-prone recent past and not at all sold on the idea of Ben Lovejoy being one boo-boo away from being in the top six.
The return of Philippe Boucher is a real possibility. He’s comfortable with the Pens, and they’re comfortable with him.