Tomorrow’s Game 7 is going to be a fascinating situation regarding the future of the core of this current Penguins team, coaching staff, ect.
Penguins win tomorrow and it will give ownership, management a false sense of security to keep things status quo and that change isn’t needed, despite the fact change is needed regardless of how Game 7 goes.
Penguins lose tomorrow and just about everything could be on the table when it comes to change except for trading Sidney Crosby but ownership holds the keys there. Whether there would be significant changes with the coaching staff, management, and core of the team would all depend if Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle and the likes of David Morehouse demand change.
That is the million dollar question right now and there’s no guarantees there.
After Boston swept the Penguins last spring, some in the media tried to claim ownership was furious and such, yet, they didn’t do anything and didn’t even question Ray Shero retaining Dan Bylsma and signed off on rewarding Bylsma with a 2 year extension that pays him north of $2.25 million per season.
Shero has full reins on personnel decisions, so if ownership made him do something at seasons end he wasn’t in favor of, it would be a first. Lemieux & Co are informed of every critical personnel decision but they’re not involved in the hockey operations part of the team as much as some would believe.
Whatever Shero says goes, as one source says, and no one really questions him.
Let’s not forget this is an organization whose General Manager has said that the goal is to “entertain” the fans. There’s a big focus on the Penguins brand than maybe developing a more boring defensive team for instance that might make them better built for the playoffs.
The last thing this management group wants to do is implement change. That’s why Tuesday night is going to be so fascinating. Get to the Eastern Conference Finals and Shero will have enough to stay the course and continue to not be questioned when he makes his recommendations at seasons end.
On the flip side, one former NHL GM told me today his thoughts on the situation is that if the Penguins lose to the Rangers and fire the coaching staff, they also have to shake up the core.
The sense among NHL types certainly seems to be that some of the Penguins core players are what they are and they’re not going to change with a new coach when it comes down to their immaturity issues on the ice and notably lack of consistent commitment to team defense.
Even before the playoffs, James Neal had been a name for months making the rounds among executives as a potential player in play this summer. The Penguins received a significant offer for Neal last summer around the draft from the Vancouver Canucks in a proposed deal that would sent Alex Edler and more pieces to the Penguins.
Hate playing the what “IF” game right now but Penguins go down, Lemieux and Co need to take a bigger role with the day to day hockey operations, examine everything and put everything on the table and that includes weighing whether Ray Shero is the right guy.
Since Crosby and Malkin have both been off their entry level contracts at the same time (2009-2010), the Penguins have won just four series and Shero has struggled to adapt to how the NHL has evolved during that time frame when it comes to building pieces around Crosby and Malkin.
There is a lot of things to examine with Shero from his vision on how to build a team, poor drafts, installing a country club atmosphere.