Story and Image source: TSN.ca
There were hints last night that there would be some shuffling done in the Pittsburgh Penguins management team following their second-round playoff exit at the hands of the New York Rangers. Today, it was confirmed.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have fired general manager Ray Shero while the status of coach Dan Bylsma will be evaluated.
Team co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said Friday it was time to take the franchise in a new direction after the team’s latest playoff flameout.
Assistant general manager Jason Botterill will serve as general manager on an interim basis while the team searches for Shero’s replacement.
The Penguins rolled to the Metropolitan Division title this season but failed yet again to produce a bookend to the championship it won with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in 2009.
Pittsburgh is just 4-5 in playoff series since raising the Stanley Cup, including a loss to the New York Rangers in the second round this week.
I couldn’t imagine being a member of the management of any professional sports team. It must be awfully stressful knowing that the security of your job depends on whether or not a group people you oversee can pull it together and win enough games.
That being said, one can’t help but wonder how much of a factor the contributions of a single player may have played into that.
Image source: NHL.com
Now obviously I know hockey is a team game, and you can’t hold one person responsible for a team’s breakdown… However, as the leader of the Penguins, one might expect Sidney Crosby to produce a little more in the playoffs.
I mean look at his stats… 1 goal and 8 assists for 9 points in 13 games? This is the same Crosby who rippled the twine 36 times and added 68 helpers for 104 points in 80 games this season.
If you take a look back to last year at this time, Crosby had a somewhat better (although similarly-lengthed) post season, managing 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points in 14 games.
Obviously he’s only human, and he’s going to get tired or hurt and battle through it (because that’s what you do in the playoffs). Maybe that’s the reason his production slowed down so drastically. I’ve also seen opinions posted online that the team relies too heavily on Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to be their top forwards, and don’t have enough talent elsewhere on the team. I’m no expert on the Penguins so I can’t speculate (though I do like that former Leaf Lee Stempniak was a member of the team this year).
Whether it was the players’ fault or management, Shero is the one who had to pay the ultimate price… And head coach Dan Bylsma could be next.
I guess that’s just the risk you take to make your living in hockey.