TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Jimmy Rutherford feeling the pressure of a GM who might get fired? Rutherford has been a loose cannon over the past couple weeks behind the scenes even before last night’s incident, sources say, and I guess I’d be to if my boss who hired me barely acknowledges me anymore when he comes into town.
Rutherford went on a tirade last night following the Game 3 loss and took his frustrations out on Tribune-Review columnist Rob Rossi who is one of the biggest critics of Rutherford out there.
Rossi outlined the interaction in his column.
[“After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins’ dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.
“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
“You’re a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media’s lead sports columnist.
My role is to provide opinion.
“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.]”
The Penguins are a dysfunctional organization right now behind the scenes starting with the front office and Rutherford’s future in Pittsburgh is hanging on by a thread.
As I reported a few weeks ago, Rutherford’s future with the team was looked at as 50-50 at best and all signs continue to point to Ron Burkle being prepared to cut ties with Rutherford after the season.
“He [Ron Burkle] wants to get things right,” a source close to the situation re-iterated yesterday.
I give the Tribune-Review higher up’s credit for not sugar coating their reporting or not being afraid to put out negative columns about the team, coach, General Manager, ect, when they’re a major sponsor to the Penguins. Trib Total Media is all over the arena and the Penguins website. Some outlets who are major sponsors end up being PR machines for the particular team.
I’m not taking sides here, though, Rutherford being in the position he’s in as General Manager, looks bad for sure in berating someone personally and this incident was not in a private matter and in front of other reporters. It’s fair game to be put out there.
— The only person saying there was no real incident between the two is the one individual in town who has become a PR machine for Rutherford and the team. Go figure —
2. Antonio Brown last off-season fired agent Drew Rosenhaus, hired Roc Nation Sports agency (Jay Z’s company), then in a matter of months Brown rehired Rosenhaus. The Steelers sensed last summer that Brown demanding a new contract was going to be a likely scenario in the near future. This has not caught the Steelers by surprise. The Steelers message for now to Brown has been that they’re willing talk about a new deal next off-season but Rosenhaus ultimate goal here is to at least get Brown more money for this season with an extension coming next season.
3. In a matter of three games, Daniel Winnik has gone from the first, second to fourth line. Winnik will play on the fourth line tomorrow night, that’s if he dresses. There’s some discussions about inserting Craig Adams into the lineup for Winnik, a source says.
The coaches have been extremely disappointed with Winnik’s play.
Winnik is a perfect example as to why you don’t give up second round picks for low-impact bottom-6 players. The upside is so low that the value doesn’t match up. If there’s a blueprint to follow for any Penguins GM moving forward it’s Montreal’s Marc Bergevin.
One area Bergevin excels at is properly valuing players when it comes to trade compensation.
Bergevin has a niche for applying second round compensation to high upside rental players and his acquisitions of Thomas Vanek last season and Jeff Petry this season are perfect examples of that. The trades don’t always work out but if you’re going to move a high pick for a rental, it has to be for a player who possesses the skill and talent to potentially be an impact player in your lineup.
Bergevin upgraded the Canadiens fourth line prior to the deadline by acquiring Brian Flynn for a 5th round pick and Torrey Mitchell for a 7th round pick. That’s proper compensation for two role players.
The Penguins lack of skill at forward highlighted by players who can’t create their own shot is absolutely embarrassing and was on display in Game 3. All trades like the Winnik one does is set the organization back again in it’s inability to draft skilled wingers early in the draft and start stocking the system with forwards.
4. The Penguins have been competitive (on the scoreboard) through three playoff games vs the Rangers but they’re a team that has no room for error in this series and the inability to play smart hockey continues to be a concern on how these players are coached and wired.
Poor line changes, bad penalties, this group just can’t help themselves and that has to be looked at when evaluating this coaching staff.
5. Derrick Pouliot being inserted right into the lineup for Game 4 isn’t going to be as easy of a decision as it might seem from the outside. As much as Pouliot would help the Penguins transition game, Pouliot is a disaster in his own end. That’s something the coaches are weighing going into tomorrow’s game as Brian Dumoulin’s two-way play is look at as being superior to Pouliot’s overall game.