Insider Only Late Night TIOPS Daily Five Edition: Penguins must do proper evaluation and keep their stubbornness off the table


*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

FullSizeRender1. David Morehouse is telling any of his media pals, who he has driving positive PR for him and looking into things like Pierre McGuire tipping the Rangers, that Jim Rutherford and Mike Johnston are staying. Fans shouldn’t buy that talk just yet.
Of course Morehouse wants Rutherford to stay. He played a huge part in the hire.
Will the Penguins be too stubborn and keep both? Possibility but this will be Ron Burkle’s call on how things go this summer. The Penguins play with his money.
Moving forward, Penguins ownership has to do a proper evaluation from the top (front office) all the way down. They shouldn’t fire or commit to bringing anyone back right off the bat. They need to do a full-out evaluation and determine whether Jim Rutherford is the right guy moving forward and then work their way down.
Jim Rutherford was Ray Shero part II, in giving away high picks like they mean nothing and bringing in experienced crum bums over playing youth.
With what the Penguins gave up for David Perron, Daneil Winnik, Ben Lovejoy to their poor play down the stretch and in the playoffs, to the mis-management of the cap, to a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin that averaged under 2.40 goals per game over their last 65 games, and scored just 34 goals in their last 20 games, Jim Rutherford has been a disaster in constructing this team with talent at key spots.
The biggest problem the Penguins have is the constant win-at all cost mentality. That starts with ownership setting those expectations and Mario Lemieux only won two Stanley Cups in his career. He should be the one who realizes how hard it is to win a Cup.
There are years when you have to move players who aren’t a necessity to keep like they should have done with pending UFA Paul Martin for instance this season, and keep re-stocking the system and the team with young impact players.
The Penguins win-at-all cost mentality has set them back and Jim Rutherford has been more of the same and he’s only going to continue to be more of the same.
The mistake the Penguins made last summer was not bringing in a GM who had an actual vision for the short and long-term. Rutherford had and has no vision. He got a second life in his General Manager career with the Penguins situation last summer and a situation of what is a last hurrah for him. His vision was always going to have the goggles on that this group is closer to being a Stanley Cup team than it really is.
The Penguins in keeping Rutherford will be just delaying the inevitable of him getting fired next summer.
When it comes to Mike Johnston, the Penguins owe it to themselves to explore all options. This is the ultimate coaching market and you have to at least poke your head out there behind the scenes. There’s no reason to make a rush judgement on Johnston. The Penguins need to take their time, evaluate him but also explore what’s out there through back channels.
Things are setting up where the Penguins could be one of the few situations to offer Mike Babcock a head coach and GM role.

marcandrefleury2. The Penguins only chance of replenishing this team with adequate talent in the top-6 around Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would be moving Kris Letang or Marc Andre Fleury. Sidney Crosby will never be traded (unless he asks for one) due to the business standpoint, but if the Penguins commit to keeping Malkin and he doesn’t want out, which can’t be ruled out, they have to fully commit to maximizing the talent around Crosby and Malkin and that’s doing something they wouldn’t want to do like trading Letang or Marc Andre Fleury for a boatload in return. Trading Chris Kunitz, Rob Scuderi, Brandon Sutter isn’t going to give you a Marian Hossa type winger and replenish the forward system. Something has to give at somepoint.
The best thing injuries did this season for the Penguins is show had bad this forward group is. The Penguins don’t score because they no finishers and too many players who can’t create their own shot.
A good GM would look at this Penguins team moving forward and come to the assumption that next year should be a year of re-tooling where you keep the roster competitive but you move some players whose value is at their highest like Fleury with Matt Murray waiting in the wings to improve other needed areas of your hockey club. At some point the Penguins have to take a gamble and change something.

malkin-pictutre_thumbnail3. Evgeni Malkin failed the Penguins with his play vs the Rangers in round 1 but Rob Rossi makes the argument that the Penguins have made broken promises and hints at Malkin potentially wanting out. Rossi it should be noted is closer to Malkin than anyone in the Pittsburgh media. If that comes to fruition, the Penguins would try their best to move Malkin out West (Has NTC) and many will be buzzing about Nashville because of James Neal being there, having the pieces to trade for Malkin, and Nashville being a small market that would intrigue Malkin.

4. The Penguins obsession of drafting defensemen has come back to haunt them with a forward system that is among the bottom-10 in the league and the same amateur scouting staff will be in place for another draft, regardless of whether Jim Rutherford loses his job.
Many look at the 2011 draft as such a missed opportunity for the Penguins organization with Brandon Saad in their backyard but the obsession to draft defensemen hurts even more when Filip Forsberg was right there for the taking when the Penguins traded Jordan Staal to Carolina.
Imagine how different this team and top-6 might look with drafting Saad or even Boone Jenner in 2011 and nabbing Forsberg in 2012.
Ray Shero might still have his job.

Bylsma5. In theory the Penguins could get draft compensation for Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma this summer due to the new rules in place.
Many executives are watching how the situation unfolds with Edmonton and Boston in regards to whether the Oilers end up sending a draft pick to Boston for the hiring of Peter Chiarelli as General Manager/President of Hockey Operations.
For Shero few ideal GM jobs out there right now, though, he’s going to get an interview with the Bruins, and the early talk on Bylsma right now is that he’s everyone’s fourth or fifth option.
“Dan is not in demand [right now],” one executive said Friday.
Bylsma is certainly going to get some interviews and may land somewhere but there’s more chatter in league circles right now about Bylsma’s former assistant Tony Granato than Bylsma himself. Granato is high on Doug Wilson’s wishlist in San Jose, according to NHL sources, and don’t be surprised if he interviews with Toronto.

The Penguins will just be happy to get the $5+ million off their books next season.
— The Daily Five returns Monday —

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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