The Pittsburgh Penguins decision to bench Ruslan Fedotenko in their first round playoff series has been an interesting one.
Fedotenko who scored just 11 goals in 80 regular season games, including a team-worst minus-17 rating, was seen as somewhat of an untouchable when it came to being a potential scratch during the regular season.
Following the trade deadline, management and the coaching staff talked extensively about Fedotenko getting back to being one of the Penguins key contributors during the stretch run and into the playoffs.
Penguins GM Ray Shero even mentioned Fedotenko’s name when it came to players he was counting on to come up big in the playoffs.
Fedotenko had 7 goals last post-season and all season Fedotenko got the benefit of doubt from the team because of his reputation of turning up his play come playoff time.
After a subpar performance in game 1 where Fedotenko’s effort came into question, Dan Bylsma finally made Fedotenko a healthy scratch for the first time this season in game 2.
It was a move that needed to happen 15-20 games ago. Bylsma was rewarding Fedotenko with continued ice time despite inconsistent and mediocre play and situations where his work ethic was lacking. A message needed to be sent to Fedotenko well before the playoffs and Bylsma was sending a wrong message to his team as Fedotenko was being held to a double standard all season.
When Tyler Kennedy wasn’t playing well he sat and the same went for Max Talbot and others.
Fedotenko is well liked in the locker room but I’ve been told that Fedotenko getting by-passed as a scratch all season did not sit well with others.