Goodbye From Pittsburgh Matt Cooke and Jarome Iginla

This is a story about two players. In fact, it’s really directed at these two players.

I certainly won’t claim to speak for the whole City of Pittsburgh or the whole of Penguins-nation, but I think I speak for a lot of us and I want to say thank you Matt Cooke and Jarome Iginla. You’ve both left for greener pastures now: Cooke has signed a 3-year, $7.5 million deal with the Minnesota Wild. And that’s great, that’s one more year and probably a million dollars per season more than the Penguins would have thought about offering you. And you deserve it.

We in Pittsburgh know you better than probably any other team in the NHL. We know full well what you’ve done in the NHL, but we also know who you are outside of the NHL, you are a father, a family man, a humanitarian, and a leader in the locker room and the community. You were paid to play the game a certain way, that doesn’t define who you are. So we say thank you for all the great moments, all the horrifying moments, and everything in between. Thanks for the Cup.

For the Haters

For the Haters

Jarome Iginla: Iggy, we aren’t spiteful, even if you did sign a contract with Boston. You’re the only right winger on their roster right now, they need you more than we do, we in Pittsburgh need Beau Bennett right now. We’re just sorry we couldn’t get you that Cup. We’re sorry no one let you play right wing in Pittsburgh, but it’s just tough. We need to look at stats a little bit: James Neal has scored 61 goals in his last 120 games on Evgeni Malkin’s right wing. Over the last two seasons you only have 46 goals and you played 126 games. And then there’s Pascal Dupuis, maybe the Penguins should have moved him and Kunitz around to put you on Sid’s wing, but I mean Duper was the leading goal scorer for the Pens in the postseason, something just seems wrong to do anything to screw with your leading scorer on your top line. And I know you aren’t bitter. You said as much when you addressed the media after you signed with Boston, and we in Pittsburgh believe you.

(Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Peter Diana/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

It would have been nice to come to terms on a new deal with you, but it was never going to work out. This was a run at the Cup and you knew it. Neither you nor the Penguins are getting any younger and that’s the biggest reason why you need to move onto another team. It’s just too bad that you won’t go down as a legend of Pittsburgh sports lore. And it’s too bad that everyone hopes you get “Hossa-ed” next season (including me), but, well, we do. You’ve moved on and there’s certainly no love lost for the Bruins, even if you play for them now.

So to Iggy and Cookie, goodbye and good luck.

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When You Point the Finger, Evaluating Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero

dan-bylsma-glareIn the mainstream media everyone has already decided on their scapegoat, Dan Bylsma, and at least in their arguments they seem to have plenty of good cause: 4 years of elimination at the hands of a lower-seeded opponent, the first Penguins coach to be swept in the playoffs in 34 years, a losing record in the postseason since his historic 2009 Cup win. But they are decidedly wrong. If you had wanted to pick this fight with me last year or the previous two years I wouldn’t have argued, but the problem against Boston was not a failure of coaching, it was a failure of the players to listen, or to CARE to execute.  And that’s all fine and dandy, but if you ask me, you have to go up another level to find the culprit behind this collapse.

Yes, in fact, I am talking about Ray Shero. The architect of the most talent laden roster since the inception of the salary cap is the guy that I think is most culpable for this team’s collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals (if you can ever collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals, even if you’re swept and get outscored 12-2, I mean you’re still one of the four best teams in the league right?). And here’s why: he overspent his hand. Now, here us out, we’re not going to pretend that Shero should be fired, and we’re definitely not saying that he hasn’t made some amazing moves: just think about where the Pens would have been if he hadn’t made a move on the “washed up” Tomas Vokoun. But when it comes right down to it, answer yourself this, did his deadline moves work? If you answer yes you must be a Bruins fan. Get the explanation after the jump.  Read the rest of this entry »


Stud of the Week 04/15/13

The only challenge left that’s worth working for this regular season is the top seed in the East, we have no interest in the cursed President’s Trophy. Only two teams remain capable of catching the Penguins: Montreal and Boston. Montreal played last night and for the rest of the season they will have the same amount of games left as the Pens, and they play each other Wednesday. The Canadians have 6 games left and the Penguins have seven points in hand. That leaves a magic number of 5 for the Pens to clinch the top seed in the East (Canadians can earn a maximum of 12 points). The same holds for the Bruins, they have 7 games remaining following the postponement of their game yesterday, but there is an 8 point difference between the Pens and Bruins. Thus that magic number is down to 6. By the time the Pens/Bruins game ends on Friday, the Pens could cut it to 4 points.

Oh also, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, and Paul Martin all resumed skating yesterday. Sid rocked the incredibly fashionable full-cage mask, Neal has been symptom free for a while now and will probably be back in the lineup on Wednesday, and Paul-Mart wore a tracksuit.

sid-jawprotector

nealmart41413

And the Penguins were 3-0 last week on a jaunty drive through the American Southeast. In the absence of so many key players the new acquisitions really raised the bar, as such we are going to dedicate this Stud of the Week to those who weren’t here last year.

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You May Have Heard the Penguins are “All In,” Now with Jarome Iginla

iggy

We don’t need to waste a lot of time on this post, you all know what happened, and if not check Twitter for #WakingUpToIginla. Jarome Iginla is now a Pittsburgh Penguin. Perhaps one of the most heroic players in the league in the last several decades Iggy is just an all around stud addition, and the best part? Still no changes to the NHL roster, the Pens gave up their first round draft pick and two promising, but secondary caliber, prospects.

The best read you can possibly get on the trade comes from the Puck Daddy himself Greg Wyshinski. Read it here. Profound thoughts especially coming from a Devils fan right here:

If Jay Feaster is now The Man That Traded Jarome Iginla, then Ray Shero is The Man That Traded For Jarome Iginla. And Brenden Morrow. And Douglas Murray. And James Neal. And Bill Guerin. And Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. And all of the other additions to the Penguins through the years that earned them annual success, two conference titles and a Stanley Cup.

If Calgary Flames management seems like a rudderless vessel adrift at sea, the combination of Shero, owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle seem like an unsinkable battleship. The assemblage of talent on the 2013 Penguins makes them one of the deepest and most star-studded teams in recent memory.

Also Shero’s comments about what Iginla told him after the trade was made are unbelievable.

SHERO: I just talked to him after the fact. That was it. He agreed to waive and come to Pittsburgh. The trade conference call was done with the league. Everything was final. That was it. I talked to him a while ago after it. He said he was excited to come to Pittsburgh. He said he would help anyway he could, didn’t care about role or who he was playing with. He wants to help the team win and be a part of it. It was a big change after 16 years in Calgary so I’m sure it will be quite emotional. We have a month sort through the emotions, find some roles for guys, players accepting of those and playing good hockey. The team on paper doesn’t mean too much. We have to do it on the ice. Chemistry for a hockey team is very important.

Stoked above reason now that I see that kind of comment from Iginla.

The Pens are all in. Shero has literally built a team better than what anyone in the NHL probably thought possible in the salary cap era. Seth Rorabaugh contends that Shero will go down as an all-time great GM IF the Pens win the Stanley Cup, for our money he’s already there. Mere mortals can’t do what he’s done. In Shero we trust.

Ray-Shero-watching-practice


Penguins Acquire Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars, The Whole World Surprised that Joe Nieuwendyk Still Takes Calls from Ray Shero

brenden-morrow

The Pens have acquired Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars (along with a third round pick) in exchange for Joe Morrow and a fifth round pick. Is this really as bad of a fleecing as the infamous James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski trade? Probably not. Rob Rossi insists that the Pens viewed Joe Morrow as a better prospect than either Beau Bennett or Simon Despres (which indubitably is why he was the only one of the three to not play in the NHL this season), and even if he really isn’t, the Stars are guaranteed to have J.Morrow around for 2 more years, something that the Pens can’t equally claim. B.Morrow is a pending UFA and he’s also 34 years old now.

rossi-jmorrow

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