Phil Krundle: Should There be Changes in the Penguins Future? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Phil Krundle: Should There be Changes in the Penguins Future?

Here at PenguinPoop we are taking a hard look at whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins organization needs to make any changes.  Sixth up is Phil Krundle.

Phil Krundle

Perhaps looking at the big picture is needed before we make the Penguins owners, management, players and peanut venders walk the plank. Yes, the Penguins had an early first round exit. The Penguins didn’t lose in 5 games to an eighth seeded team like the Canucks. The Penguins weren’t the defending Cup champions who got ousted by a seventh place team. The Penguins lost to the third best team in the Eastern Conference.

When you look at how the teams finished during the regular season, the NHL had the 2nd place Penguins play the 3rd ranked Flyers. Stupid is probably be the nicest way to describe that. This does not hide the fact that the Penguins lost handily.

The Penguins have one of the best skilled teams in the NHL. There is no way to sugar coat this, the Penguins were out coached. This does not mean the Penguins should make a coaching change. Dan Bylsma has won a Jack Adams coach of the year award and a Stanley Cup as coach of the Penguins. You hear people say that he was not quick to make changes. If he did rush to make changes people would say “why didn’t he stick with what was working?”.

Dan Bylsma is one of the top 5 coaches in the NHL and the other 4 are not available. Firing him would be a stupid move.


The Penguins do have some problem areas they need to address. The number one area they need help in is leadership. Sidney Crosby does a great job as captain of the team, there are few better in the NHL. Immediately following Crosby on the leadership chart is nothing, zero, zilch. Brooks Orpik, Jordan Staal & Evgeni Malkin are all great players. Not one of them is a qualified leader.

One of the Flyers plans was to expose the maturity of the Penguins squad. They successfully to infuriated the Penguins squad with in between play face washes, bumping & Cross checks. Ray Shero needs to find another Billy Geurin type player and or an assistant coach that knows and wouldn’t be afraid to implement the tricks of the trade.


The Flyers also exposed a few problems with the Penguins defense. Zbynek Michalek was out of position most of the series along with much of the season. It’s like he just refuses to clear anyone from in front of the net.  They say you need to give 110% to win a cup.  I think Michalek gave about 50%.

Paul Martin also struggled. He had A few untimely changes and a hard time stopping the pass on the odd man breaks. My personal opinion is that Martin gets a bum rap because he was scrambling trying to fix Michalek’s crap all season.  I think the coaches see the same thing.  Martin played against the top lines and played more than any other Penguins player this season.

Everyone said wow Martin looks way better paired with Letang.  What they didn’t notice was that Orpik was falling apart paired with Michalek.  Martin & Michalek proved they are fantastic in a defensive style system last year and equally proved they have a hard time of it in an open style system this year.

Jonathan Willis over at the Edmonton Journal is thinking the Oilers should be looking at Martin & Michalek to stabilize their blue line. “If the Edmonton Oilers need defense, could the Pittsburgh Penguins provide it?” The only problem is that Edmonton would need to dispose of some salary to take them in. Do they have anything the Penguins would be interested in?

It’s time the Penguins bring up their brilliant younger defensive players. Simon Despres & Brian Strait looked like they are up to the task. The one thing we know is that they thrive playing Bylsma’s system with the WBS Penguins.

The Penguins need a gritty borderline crazy defenseman. A guy that makes the other teams players think before skating freely into the zone.


There are no if, but’s or candy nuts about it, Marc-Andre Fleury played horrible.  The Penguins need a better back-up goaltender for when this happens.  Brent Johnson is not the answer and after watching Brad Thiessen, I’m afraid he will never be the guy.

Dan Bylsma must try radical new thinking here.  All you heard about leading up to the playoffs was getting Fleury some rest.   Instead of rest, play Fleury more.  He’s only 27 years old, he can take it.  The more he plays the better he plays.  Martin Brodeur who is the all time winning goaltender in NHL history averaged about 74 games a year from age 27 to 35.

Signings & Trades

Sidney Crosby should get whatever he wants. Crosby has a very level head and will ask for a respectable salary that will pay him well and not hurt the team at the same time.

Jordan Staal is a horse of a different color. There are rumors galore about Staal. Penguins GM Shero’s best move would be to get Crosby’s contract in place fast. From there he will have a better idea what he has to work with in order to keep or trade Staal.

Long time Pittsburgh journalist Alan Robinson has alluded to the fact that Staal is unhappy as the Penguins third line center and that he would like a chance on one of the top lines. Staal has the potential to be the scoring winger the Penguins need on either Malkin or Crosby’s line.

If Staal has no interest in re-signing with the Penguins it would seem that Ray Shero would have no shortage of suitors.

There are rumors galore that Carolina would be interested in uniting the Staal brothers.  Carolina doesn’t have much that the Penguins would be interested in being overloaded with centers themselves. If it were to happen I would venture to guess Staal for center Ruutu, defenseman Gleason and draft picks.

The same Edmonton paper that claimed the Oilers should be interested in Martin & Michalek have reported that they Oilers may be interested in parting with this years first over-all pick for Staal.

The best idea I have heard is a trade to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn & winger Nikolai Kulemin.  This would be a trade that would help both teams.


The Penguins need to fill in a few of the low level roster spots that are up for signing. Players who don’t have playoff experience in the rougher eastern conference need not apply. These players must have a hunger for the Cup that this team lacked. The players must be willing to give up their body to block the puck.  Something this group of Penguins didn’t do which showed in their overall lack of heart.

This has a lot to do with coaching. Max Talbot is the best example. Talbot was a good player that was sinking fast in Pittsburgh. He had already won the Cup that he wanted to win and was loved by the fans. You can say it was a bad move letting Talbot go, but if he would have stayed here it would have been more of the same mediocrity.

The Penguins coaches need to bring the hunger back out in the players and or get new players that have it.   Bylsma knows he must make a good run at the cup next saeason or it’s over.

It is going to be a very interesting off season.

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  1. Pens Fan's Gravatar Pens Fan
    May 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I thought Shero originally drafted Staal as trade bait to begin with. Develop him into a top 6 and get significant trade return – NOW is the time to do it. Actually 2 years ago was. Hate to say it but Crosby kills the Pens chemistry. It’s obvious. Malkin & Co. were clicking along till Crosby came back and the whole team dynamic changed. There isn’t room for Geno and Sid in reality. Hats off to Malkin for putting up with the spotlight on Sid all the time. I would look at Sid & 2nd to Columbus for Nash and Umberger.

    I’m a HUGE Fleury fan but his time is up. He sparked when he had to spark – and Shero will have a hard time addressing this area unless he pulls in something of a package with the above mentioned Sid or Staal trade.

    It’s obvious we need to trade Martin for a bag of pucks and save the salary. Even Michalek if given the opportunity to drop him off on someone outside the div. We have the young guys coming up that we have to make room for. Can’t wait till Harrington comes in. Add some toughness to our D. Orpik is a shadow of his former self and is A LOT slower. Not that he was ever a speedster to begin with.

    Time to revamp. As much as it hurts.

    I say keep Malkin as your true centerpiece. He’s shown he has the HART again.

    Nash and Umberger from Columbus. For starters. Maybe a goalie from there as well.

  2. Nathan97's Gravatar Nathan97
    May 12, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    This is a time for leadership to step forward. If the Penguins are going to be a dynasty team they are going to need thier big boys to figure out the salary cap situation. Since Crosby and Staal are first to be re-signed, Crosby should take it upon himself to talk to Staal and see where he is at. By Crosby seeing what Staal wants to do shows leadership and devotion. He then can either take the same salary or less or more. Having Letang ,Martin, Mechealik,Fluery and Neal long term they will need Malkin, Crosby and Staal on this team and figure out what money they need. Malkin will be next year so to go and spend all on the Penguins money this year also isnt smart. In my opinion I would trade Martin and Neal to Washington for Ovechkin. Same salary back and we get an NHL MVP. Crosby gets the winger he needs and Ovi gets a new team in which he needs and wants. We have enough young D-men to bring up to make up the free spot on the roster. Thats what I think needs to happen this off season for the Pens.

  3. Abigfan's Gravatar Abigfan
    May 11, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    There where too many little things that the whole organization did not do well. The Flyers got hot the Pens where cold. A hot team is a dangerous opposition. Look back and see what teams got hot and won The Cup. Remember the last time the Pens one? From Feb. on they played outstanding. It carried into the playoffs. It seems that maybe they quit believing that they could do it. Saying they can and believing they can are different.
    With that said they do need to work on the defense. Weather trade one of the “M’s”, or trade this person or that person It seems that some change will happen this summer. I would like them to keep the center 3 if they can afford it. But it is a business and if trading or not signing people gets another Cup so be it.
    Lets just all hope that all can agree on a CBA and keep hockey going. Its has had enormous growth since the last lockout.
    It would be a shame to see all the hard work that everyone has done go to waste. Both sides need to realize that its a give and take relationship and you have to give to take. Let not greed take away this great sport next fall!!!

  4. Tom's Gravatar Tom
    May 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I have not heard one comment addressing the goalie coach for the Pens. That would be the first move to make, get rid of him.

  5. SwePensFan's Gravatar SwePensFan
    May 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    À dream trade this summer… Staal, Martin or Michalek a 1st round draftpick and Tangradi for G.Landeskog, Ryan Wilson and 1st pick!

    We free up alot of cap and in Landeskog we get à future Superstar with maybe the most Heart in the NHL. He is also Leadership material. Landeskog and Crosby Would make à Perfect duo..


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