Interim head coach Dan Bylsma has indicated he will implement a more uptempo system and wants the Penguins to be much more aggressive than they were under Michel Therrien. Do the Penguins have personnel to play a uptempo system? That is up for debate.
On the backend they have three offensive defensemen in Kris Letang, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney. Bylsma wants more pinching from all defensemen and for his offensive defensemen to jump up into the play to create offense. He doesn’t want the Penguins sitting back anymore, he wants them to initiate the play.
As the trade deadline is approaching the Penguins are engaged with a number of teams and they are seeking speed upfront.
Two things that did Michel Therrien in was his inability to adapt and change his ways. I‚Äôve been told that Ray Shero has been stressing for the Penguins to run a more uptempo system for months but Therrien was never a big fan of it.
The final straw in Therrien‚Äôs dismissal is a major trade involving a prominent forward was nixed because the player coming to Pittsburgh would not waive his NTC. It was not Nik Antropov because he doesn‚Äôt have a NTC. I‚Äôm told this was the second time in 4 weeks that a player wouldn‚Äôt waive his NTC to Pittsburgh. More info in the Inside Access Only section
Surprisingly the Penguins have cancelled practice for tomorrow. Bylsma will conduct his first practice on Wednesday.
The Latest on negotiations with Petr Sykora & more
The Penguins and the representatives for Petr Sykora have held discussions about an extension and there appears to be a mutual interest in getting a deal done before Sykora enters free agency. At this time no numbers have been discussed as Shero has other priorities right now. It is believed Sykora could receive a 3 year-deal worth $11-12 million on the open market.
There have been no discussions with Rob Scuderi on an extension
It‚Äôs being highly speculated that the two players who nixed a trade to Pittsburgh were Islanders forward Bill Guerin and Lightning forward Marty St. Louis. The Penguins and Islanders broke off talks 7-10 days when Guerin made it known he would not waive his NTC to Pittsburgh because of how older veterans were treated under Therrien.
Marty St. Louis nixing a trade here is just speculation at this point. The two sides remain in discussions and Pittsburgh officials claim talks were intensifying late last week. The folks in Tampa Bay are downplaying the talk but the Lightning have scouted the Penguins in 5 out of the Penguins last 7 home games.
There‚Äôs talk that the firing was strictly Ray Shero‚Äôs decision. Ray Shero met CEO Ken Sawyer who is highly involved in the day-to-day operations, Sunday morning to discuss dismissing Therrien from his duties.
Ownership obviously signed off on it quickly but Lemieux and Sawyer did not come to Shero demanding a change. Lemieux is actually out of town. Lemieux and Sawyer have been supporters of Therrien and the reason they hired Ray Shero was to make decisions like this.
The reality of firing Therrien became true following the Penguins 5-2 loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday, February 3rd. The Penguins never really considered firing Therrien in Janaury when they hit rock bottom and as I mentioned prior to the Tampa game on the 4th, Therrien had to win that game or he was out. When a GM gets to the point where he‚Äôs thinking of firing a coaching, a change is only inevitable
A 3-1 homestand didn‚Äôt save Therrien after Saturday‚Äôs debacle.
With Shero making his coaching change, ownership will now put the pressure on Shero to upgrade this roster sooner not later. Missing the playoffs is not a option from ownership.
Forgot to add this: Just heard tonight that the Penguins are looking at Leafs winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. 6-4, 220lbs, 17 goals on the season. Signed through 2009-2010 season with a cap hit of $2.1 million. Unknown if the year left on his contract with scare the Penguins away.
more to come
Photo courtesy of Dan4th