TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. At the General Manager meetings on Monday, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford came to the defense of Sidney Crosby, saying people are nitpicking about his drop in play. “It’s total nitpicking because there’s nothing wrong with him,” Rutherford said via the Canadian Press. “His play, to me, has been as good as it’s ever been.”
Rutherford wasn’t around the team during the days of pre-concussion Crosby, especially the 2010-2011 season where Crosby was on a level we’ve never seen from him since or maybe anyone since the 90’s, but really what else is Rutherford going to say.
Rutherford’s next quote is what really stands out and this is what Penguin coaches and management have come to believe; the league has changed and Crosby’s adjusted to becoming a stronger two-way player with more defensive responsibilities, a reason for his dip in offensive production.
“From an overall team point of view, and what’s needed to be done to be successful, he’s made that adjustment and done it very well,” Rutherford said. “It’s coming back into your own end, playing both ends of the rink. No cheating. Playing the game the way it should be played. And he’s bought into that.”
2. Beau Bennett, 0 points in his last 14 games, 0 goals in his last 21 games, 3 shots or less in 28 of 29 games. The Bennett crowd can talk about usage but at somepoint he needs to go out and do something himself. He’s not an 18 year old rookie. The last time you can say Bennett made a true impact in a game and you came away from a game saying he was one of the best players on the ice was a month ago against Chicago on Feb 15, the last time he has recorded a point and last time he had over 3 shots in a game.
3. Led by their manager Clint Hurdle, the Pirates entered spring training last month as confident as you could be. They have the mindset going into this season that just getting to the wildcard game is no longer good enough but even if the Pirates slip up a bit this season and take a step back, it won’t be the end of the world for them. The buzz word from those with other organizations who have seen the Pirates this spring is “loaded with young talent that’s close” when talking about the Pirates. The Pirates window is wide open for the next several years and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
4. In an interview with SINow, Santonio Holmes has again expressed a desire to return to Pittsburgh.
“To get an opportunity to play for them again would be a complete career for me despite being traded and now with an opportunity to come back, I would love for nothing else but to finish my career with the Steelers. But that opportunity has to come from the man upstairs and the Rooneys.”
The Steelers have a history of bringing players back from the past for second go rounds, Larry Foote, Antwaan Randle El, Plaxico Burress, Bryant McFadden, James Harrison, among them, but one thing those players never did during their first stints in Pittsburgh was burn bridges. Holmes was hated by teammates and coaches were not too fond of him as he was regarded as a bad guy in the room. Holmes, though, did apologize to Art Rooney II in person a few years ago for his actions that led to his departure from Pittsburgh and there was more going on than just the four game suspension like clashing in the locker room with then rookie Mike Wallace in 2009.
Despite the need for a veteran wide receiver at the No. 4 spot and someone who can return punts to take pressure off Antonio Brown, Holmes likely burned too many bridges for the Steelers to consider bringing him in for a look, but in this business you never say never. Looking back, the Steelers should have rode the 2010 season out with Holmes, got a 3rd round comp pick for him and maybe a third Super Bowl Title during the Ben Roethlisberger era would have happened against Green Bay.
5. Patrick Robinson left Monday’s visit without a contract which wasn’t a surprise as the Steelers are not interested in spending more than the vet minimum for a cornerback, a reason they never pursued Tramon Williams who landed a 3 year, $21 million contract from the Browns yesterday. Despite his age, Williams is the type of risk the Steelers need to start taking a gamble on with their window being now as Ben Roethlisberger’s 33 years old.
Sterling Moore looks more likely at this point than Robinson. Robinson initially was believed to have had a deal in place with the Miami Dolphins early last week for around $3 million per season but the deal feel through at the last minute and the Dolphins went on to sign Brice McCain who the Steelers are trying to replace at a Brice McCain salary of last season.
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