Monday, July 1, 2013

The beginning to an end of an era.

I'm just writing this shit.  No punctuation or corrections otherwise.  It's surplus to requirement.  In short, I feel sick.  Nothing, no action so far this summer has been what is necessary to sustain a Championship-level team for the foreseeable future; quite the opposite.

Malkin, Kunitz, Fleury, Letang.  Bylsma.  What would I have done?  Trade, keep until end of contract, compliance buy out, trade.  Fire after Game 3 of Islanders series.  What did Pittsburgh do?  Extend, extend, name as future starter, attempt to extend.  Extend.

No matter what, Dan Bylsma is the coach of the Penguins, which means that players will be misused, systems will be stark, and the playoffs will not go well.  His having won a Championship with Therrien's systems is probably the worst thing that could have happened with respect to the potential of the personnel 2009-2013 and now until 2016.  Losing to the Islanders, as we should have, would have been the best thing for this organization.  It really put into focus the hollowness of the desire to displace and avenge the 2012 loss to the Flyers, especially by the coaching staff.  After all of the talk, Pittsburgh was an overtime away from a game 7 with an 8th seed comprised of ill-developed high draft picks, journeymen, and waiver wire pick ups - half of whom did not want to be there.  Instead, we've extended the reasons for failure.  It amounts to a waste of 7 the first 11 years of Sidney Crosby's career.

I predict now that after losing in the first round next year, the synopsis will go something like this: "The team underwent significant changes.  Youth, inexperience, uhhhhhh... Anyway we did well in the regular season, we'll get 'em next year!  Any given Sunday!" That won't be any easier to take than: (regarding making it to the Eastern Finals) "There are 27 teams that would love to have traded places with us.  Any given Sunday!"  That's what they said this season after being swept as the top seed and holding a lead for 0:00 minutes with the best two players in the league on the roster.  Also something about LA winning as a low seed.  Not the "won with strategic defense and goaltending" part, just the "made the playoffs and won, Any Given Sunday!!!" part.

By the way, all of the talk regarding how much the trades for Murray, Morrow, and Iginla backfired don't seem to mention that no Penguin from the roster was removed.  Dan could have chosen from what he already had at any time.  Dan went old, he went out of position, and he went out of the playoffs for the fourth time in his four-and-a-half year NHL coaching career.

Kris Letang.  Where do I start?  His demand for a contract in excess of $7M is too high for the Penguins to field a decent roster otherwise?  His inability to be a scoring threat on the power play?  His multiple (like 8, man) gaffes that directly lead to goals against in these past playoffs?  That he was a third round pick and could, in a trade, command multiple first round picks?  How about the reports that he won't sign an 8 year extension if he doesn't get a verbal guarantee that he won't be traded before that contract takes effect next July, effectively re-negotiating his current deal?  That the Penguins are even receptive to this is unacceptable.

An uncommonly deep draft has come and gone whilst we apparently wait for that issue to be cleared up.  Next year's draft is average even at the high end.  Were the Penguins to trade Letang this season, he won't be a Norris finalist as sure as he was this year, and he won't be under contract for a year the way he would have been in 2013-14.  Letang is less valuable to an extreme in a trade tonight as opposed to this morning.  It's sickening to think that the reward for our patience is a Kris Letang cap hit of $7.250k with a limited no-move clause or a Kris Letang that will get his $8.5M in free agency next summer.  The Penguins lose in all events.

So, I'm put out.  Pittsburgh has chosen to go in the wrong direction in every instance.  I don't understand it.  The potential was there to really flourish with many young offensive players, on top of what we have, which is a lot of young defensive players and 2/3 members of two great scoring lines..  Then again...

In some ways I am pleased that we didn't add any impactful youth to the organization the way we could have this summer.  Youth is to Bylsma what the Glengarry leads were to Jack Lemon: like throwing it away.  We could have developed some fine stretch-passers and tip-inners, maybe even a big-bodied non-screener.  Tanner Glass is still under contract, which should serve as good reason to play him ahead of a rookie, even though a rookie played on the top line of the Stanley Cup Champions in Chicago.

So, no depth, no youth, no up-and-coming.  Just increased expense and more mediocre core play.

What does it mean that in 2014 Pittsburgh will have almost half of the projected salary cap committed to 8 players?  "Horace hath exposed those who spend themselves sewing here and there some cloth of gold on their sackcloth."