Penguins Update: Where Have You Gone Harry Z? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: Where Have You Gone Harry Z?

When Penguins GM Ray Shero acquired Harry Zolnierczyk from Anaheim last summer for minor-league defenseman Alex Grant, I thought it was a terrific move. Given the departures of Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, I figured “Dirty Harry” could fill an energy role on the third or fourth line, with the potential to put up Kennedy-type numbers.

pp0443And he has. At Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In 51 games with the Baby Pens, Harry Z’s notched a highly respectable 18 goals.

He’s made of the most of his limited opportunities with the black and gold, too. During three cameos that spanned 11 games the ex-Flyer scored two goals—both on plays around the net. Projected over an 82-game slate, it adds up to a 15-goal season.

It’s not like the 26-year-old doesn’t possess some pedigree. Zolnierczyk skates like the wind, plays much bigger than his 5’11” 175-pound frame, forechecks with abandon, and goads opponents into taking penalties. On January 29 he snaked through the entire Syracuse Crunch team to score a stunning Malkin-esque goal while diving to the ice.

So what gives? On a team that so obviously needs his passion, fire and speed, why is he languishing in Wilkes-Barre while players like Brian Gibbons and Taylor Pyatt (minus-13) get extended looks?

I wish I knew. Perhaps the Penguins’ brass didn’t care for Harry Z’s Plexiglas-pounding celebration after his last tally on February 5 that sparked a comeback victory over Buffalo. (Which, not coincidentally, was the last time the Pens resembled a Cup contender.) Maybe it’s the fact that he doesn’t shave regularly. Then again, it could be a case of coach Dan Bylsma playing favorites, as he is wont to do.

I am certain of one thing. The Pens are a better hockey team with Zolnierczyk in the lineup.

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  1. Kerdog211's Gravatar Kerdog211
    March 29, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Where has Harry Z gone? Nowhere he’s right where Disco Dan wants him. If you haven’t figured it out yet this is not Sid’s team, it’s not Malkin’s team, it’s not even Mario’s team, is Bylsma’s team and come hell or high water it’s going to be his way or the highway. Harry’s style is all wrong for this team; he’s a tuff no nonsense player and that doesn’t work for Bylsma. Coach Dan wants to win with speed and finesse and that’s what guys like Gibbons have in spades. So buck up Rick at least we have tons of regular seasons wins and we sure are exciting to watch. I mean who really needs more of those Stanley cup banners hanging from the rafters anyway, they just clutter up the place.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      GREAT comments, Kerdog211, and spot on. I got a huge chuckle out of your comment about not needing any more Stanley Cup banners cluttering up the rafters.

      You may not go back this far. But it’s beginning to feel like the early 1980s when Eddie Johnston took over as GM. He jettisoned two really tough players, Marty McSorley and Kevin McClelland, and brought in a bunch of 5’9″ 180-pounders whose main attributes were speed and a smidgen of skill.

      Mitch Lamoureux, Jim McGeough, Lee Giffin, Steve Gotaas, Butsy Erickson, Perry Ganchar, Kevin LaVallee … the list was endless. Meanwhile, Philly was drafting guys like Scott Mellanby, Derrick Smith, and Rick Tocchet. It’s no wonder we literally got murdered every time we played the Flyers.

  2. 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
    March 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink


  3. pen's 4ever's Gravatar pen's 4ever
    March 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure either why “Z” isn’t up with the big team, he doesn’t fit Bylsma’s system? Maybe it’s ownership because Z is a more gritty and physical player and MArio not a big fan of fighting.
    But he is not the only player I wonder why they are or are not on this team,
    I am starting to dislike Ray and Dan

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 27, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      You make an interesting point, Pen’s 4ever. Although Zolnierczyk’s not a fighter, he’s an aggressive player who’s been known to stray over the line on occasion. He’s also got a bit of a checkered past, which may be why he hasn’t been afforded the same opportunity as other guys.

      There’s no question the Penguins have “homogenized” over the past couple of seasons. Great if you’re trying to market a brand or a product. Not so great if you’re trying to win a Stanley Cup.

      Hockey purists may disagree. But Cup-winning teams need a certain amount of nasty and snarl. From a physical standpoint, the Pens have become an easy opponent.

  4. March 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    totally agree,Harry Z should be playing for the @penguins

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Hey Barry,

      I really think Zolnierczyk could help the Pens. He’s been nursing an upper-body injury recently, but he seems to have fallen off their radar well before that.

  5. March 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    , your work is featured on @theneeds #Hockey! Check it out http://t.co/tOeIVyXh6G and RT to spread the word!


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