The question around town lately has been, whose the blame for this mess that is the Penguins. The obvious choice a month ago was Edzo with his firing, but as we have seen of late, he wasn’t the only problem. Half way through the season the Pens are at the bottom of the standings and I put the blame on Craig Patrick. Mario had faith in him and gave him sole control on who to bring in this summer, and what kind of team to construct in the new NHL. This offseason was Patrick’s dream, he had his CBA he wanted, the young stud superstar in Sidney Crosby, most of all he had money to spend with only 7 million committed to players going into the free agency period, with management saying there projected payroll was going to be around 30-33 million. Well Craig Patrick surely did spend that money, he just didn’t do it wisely. The main objective of this offseason should have been defense, toughness and speed at the forward positions.
1. Sergei Gonchar 5 yrs 25 million
2. Andre Roy 3 yrs 3 million
3. Ziggy Palffy 3 yrs 13.5 million
4. Jocelyn Thibault 2 yrs 3million ( trade )
5. John Leclair 2 yrs 3.9 million
Except for Roy, everyone was probaly pleased with those moves then, but the signings of Poapst, Odeline were just ludacris. Coming in no one knew what the new NHL was going to be like, but you don’t have to be Einstein to figure that with the game opening up, speed was going to be a big factor.
Well let Craig off on those signings because he never knew , Gonchar, Thibault, Palffy were not going to produce for him. Although Palffy is getting his points, he’s not the scorer he was in LA. 11 goals as of right now, you’ve got to be kidding me. He plays with no pride and is always looking to pass instead of shooting, which is what they brought him into do ( Score Goals, not be a playmaker. )
Other moves not related to free agency, where Patrick screwed up on was not having about 6 or 7 of players on the team , that were playing in Wilkes Barrie. First off the Fleury situation. Okay obviously he felt Thibault was a #1 goalie, but he was coming off of hip surgery and didnt play for over a year so there’s no way they knew what they were going to get from him. The smart thing would have done was, save money in your budget to put fleury on roster, and not spend money on bums like Odeline, Poapst Roy, and maybe this team has 6-8 more wins and are still in the Playoff race. Other moves that didn’t make sense, Whitney, Surovy, Quellet not being on the opening day roster along with Eric Christiansen. Another move that i dont understand , was not bringing back Morozov. You think this team couldn’t use him. Oh wait i forgot ” This is going to be the team of the decade “. In my opinon Craig Patrick went into this offseason with the mindset that with Mario, Sidney, Recchi, all this team needed was a few more dynamic offensive players and this team was going bigtime. This franchise didn’t make the playoffs in 01-02 with Mario, Kovy, Lang, Straka, Morozov , Hrdina, as there top six forwards, mainly because Craig didn’t get nothing i mean nothing in the Jagr trade. If he does his job like he is paid to do and get a couple solid third line role players and a solid defenseman this team probaly sneaks into the playoffs, even with Mario being injured most of the season. You would have thought he would have learned from that and surrounded this team with some quality defenseman and role players on the third line.
I respect Craig for all that he has done for this franchise, but you dont get a free pass forever just because you produced two Stanely Cups over a decade ago. It’s time for someone who has a idea of how to construct a team in the new NHL, and most of all it’s time for Craig Patrick to go. It’s been a good ride , especially in the 90’s but the bottom line is ” It’s time to go in a new direction “