1-on-1 with Mike Comrie
Forward Mike Comrie will be scratched tonight for the fifth time in the last six games.
Off to a slow start this season, Comrie has fallen out of the top-12 and his spot on the depth chart has taken a hit of late, as the coaching staff has gone into the direction of going with Matt Cooke and Arron Asham on the second line and the emergence of AHL callup Chris Conner has put Comrie in the press box.
Currently, Comrie is not only a player who has been pushed out of the top-12 by better performers, but is also a player without a role.
Signing a one year, $500K deal with the Penguins late in the summer, Comrie was seen by many NHL experts as one of the best bargains in the NHL, coming off a 13 goal season (43 games) with the Edmonton Oilers.
Expectations were high and Comrie figured to fill a void on the Penguins top-2 lines, but things have gone for the worse after an extremely productive preseason, where Comrie and Evgeni Malkin showed great chemistry.
By standards, Comrie’s play has been poor in the regular season, tallying just 5 assists and 0 goals along with a minus-4 rating in 15 games this season. His all around game has been a major concern, which is what I believe has pushed him out of the lineup.
However, has Comrie been giving a long enough sampling of skating with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby? That’s the big question in Penguins circles right now.
Comrie has collected 30-plus goals and 60-plus points twice in his career and posted 20-plus goals in three other seasons. Overall, in 5 of his 9 NHL seasons, Comrie has collected at least 20-plus goals, hitting the 30 goal mark twice.
One side of the argument is he deserves an extended look as a top-6 forward due to the Penguins lack of skilled wingers and the season being young. The other side of the argument is that Comrie is making minimal impact and Bylsma’s making the right choice going with his best lineup.
I sat down with Comrie 1-on-1 after the morning skate today, and while he’s frustrated with his limited role, as any player would be, he has the right attitude and is looking for that next opportunity.
“Well I think everybody wants to be apart of winning, ” Comrie told Inside Pittsburgh Sports when asked if he’s frustrated with his role. “As an athlete you got to stay positive, be a good teammate and work hard and try to get that next chance.”
One area Comrie needs to improve in my opinion to get back into Dan Bylsma’s good graces is improving his battle level, most notably in practice.
Comrie told me today’s his mindset is on battling hard in practice and that’s the only way to approach it.
“Yeah, it’s the only way you can approach it, ” Comrie said. “I haven’t scored many points this season. I’ve had some chances…..When your successful you got to battle hard and you just gotta do a lot of hard work to get through it, and wait for that next opportunity as an athlete and make the most of it when you get that chance, ” Comrie said.
One knock on Comrie from league evaluators I’ve spoken with is Comrie not being a fit in a “Dan Bylsma” system that stresses uptempo play and the ability to be a factor along the boards and on the wall in the offensive zone.
I asked Comrie if he feels that the system has been an issue for him…..
No…. It hasn’t been an adjustment, ” Comrie said. “It’s a great system, we have a lot of great players. We’re in the mix, in the middle of the standings and that’s what we’ve wanted to do. We haven’t really put together full sixty minute games but when we have, we’ve looked pretty good.”