You can argue that Penguins General Manager Ray Shero has done a solid job since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2006. Acquiring James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski, Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis (the throw in) for prospect Angelo Esposito, Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong and a first round pick, who the Thrashers went on to take Daultan Leveille with. Mr. Leveille went on to never play a game in the NHL. Shero also acquired Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney, and picked up Bill Guerin from the Islanders for a draft pick. These are the highlights of Shero’s solid or good moves if you will. There are others too like signing Paul Martin, and locking up Sidney Crosby.
A few questionable moves have also come during this time like taking Jordan Staal #2 overall in ’06, when the very next pick was Jonathan Toews (hindsight, i know), giving Kris Letang a monster extension, possibly giving Evgeni Malkin a long term deal could end up one (here’s hoping he picks things up soon), but last, and definitely not least…resigning head coach Dan Bylsma. For all the good moves Shero has made, his legacy might simply be remembered for clinging onto Disco Dan for too long, and the 2010 decade/era of the Pens might be looked upon as the “lost years.” All the talent in the world and so far not a whole lot to show for it. Here’s hoping these things will only be ifs, but unfortunately the Pens have already wrote a few chapters to start the “lost years.”
You can give Bylsma a half mulligan for the 2011 playoffs loss to Tampa Bay, being that Crosby and Malkin were out, but only a half, because the Pens were up 3-1 in this series and lost game 7 at home. But, 2010, 2012, and 2013 have all been major disappointments. Playoff series losses in Crosby and Malkin’s prime years. Yeah, I know they are still young, it just seems as if they have been in the league forever now. Albeit they are still young, one thing is for sure, they aren’t getting any younger, and once thought of franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has turned in playoff performances that have gotten worse each year. Is it possible the window is closing on the so called “core” group of this team, or are they maybe not getting the right guidance and coaching to mesh the styles of the players on the roster as opposed to the style the head coach wants to play?
I’m starting to think maybe Michel Therrien and even assistant at the time, Mike Yeo should get some of the credit that Byslma gets for the 2009 Cup. I don’t think Byslma is a bad coach, but I think he is stubborn and close minded. Both of these things have cost the Pens, again, during the prime years of some of the best young players in the game. Shero is apparently going to live by Byslma, and could very well die by Byslma. It might not be in the near future, but don’t be shocked if not too too far down the road, this decision could cost Shero his job as well. Mario is not going to continue to give out perpetual passes. The Pens are not the Buffalo Sabres, but the day could come where a Buffalo-like move is made, where the coach and GM are gone the same day.