Change…Here it Comes! – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Change…Here it Comes!

Change. It’s inevitable. Some of us embrace it. Others fear it. Many of us, just like the ostrich, bury our head in the sand and refuse to accept it, while still others argue adamantly against it.

Whatever path we choose, we simply cannot stop it. Like the concept of time. You cannot stop that either.

Change happens.

Such is the case with our Pittsburgh Penguins, in 2017-18 and moving forward in the coming years.

If you’ll allow me, I want to take you all on a little journey. Let’s consider a few factors or, for a better word, variables that will cause change regarding our Penguins.

The first point I wish to make? Most of these variables are not in our control. Items such as the salary cap, player injuries, arbitration, local and regional economic conditions that affect disposable incomes, other major sports (such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, PGA, etc.), regional biases in the NHL, failure of other NHL franchises, government regulations, and the most important variable of all in my opinion…..greed!

We all can add to this list of variables, but you get my point.

My second point is that success itself ultimately brings change. Being back-to-back Stanley Cup champions only makes the situation far worse. We lost Jason Botterill to Buffalo to become their new GM. In turn, he has taken several off-ice personnel with him. Our former director of scouting, Randy Sexton, is a key one for sure. We lost fan favourite Rick Tocchet to Arizona to become their new head coach. Former Pens GM Ray Shero has tapped into our system as well in the past few years.

Because of these actions, we now have Bill Guerin as a new assistant GM, Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar as new assistant coaches to Mike Sullivan. There were several other off-ice changes as well.

If we were the Arizona Coyotes and failed to make the playoffs for many years, I highly doubt we would see other NHL teams “stealing” our management and off-ice talent as frequently as it has happened.

The same can be said about our players. Would Nick Bonino be able to get a $4.1 million contract if he had not played on back-to-back Stanley Cup teams? What about veteran players like Ron Hainsey? He certainly benefited from playing these past few months for the Pens. So being successful can also be a curse. Others take notice.

Oh, the pains of being champions!

My third point, and the one change I see that really affects our team and the entire league itself, is greed! Does Connor McDavid not warrant his new $12.5 million a year contract? Yes? No?? I’m sure we will all have an opinion on this.

What I really want to bring to light is the outrageous salaries the mid- and lower-level players are now receiving. They’re simply unsustainable in the long term.

Please understand me clearly…I don’t blame the players for these salaries! If a team is willing to pay you $4-7 million a year, you take it. The blame rests solely on the owners and management of the NHL. They created this situation.

The problem it is causing? A future economic crisis in the NHL that will eventually see several small market teams closing their doors because they cannot afford to spend up to the maximum cap level.

Does this make good business sense to you?  It’s all about greed, my friends.

Some will argue that the current CBA with the current 50/50 revenue sharing system will insure the economic stability of the league. To those people I say, respectfully, I disagree with those assumptions. Yes, it may control the salary-cap level. But, because of the foolish salary amounts being paid to support players today, you are forcing the weaker teams to spend more money for less talented players and causing them severe economic hardship. Then, you ultimately force these smaller market teams to field lower cost, uncompetitive, AHL-caliber teams whose sole purpose in the NHL is to provide opposition for the stronger teams over an 82-game regular season schedule. This will spell the end of the parity that exists in the NHL today.

That is one change I rigorously oppose. I fail to see the long-term logic and benefit for our game.

How about you?

My final point is about our beloved Penguins. I applaud GM Jim Rutherford for his signings to date, and for showing restraint in the midst of all the crazy spending by his fellow GMs. We’ve all had some disagreements over a specific player or players that got signed this past month. But, overall, the Pens are in a good place.

This doesn’t mean that change will stop. It never does. We have two very crucial arbitration hearings coming up in the next 20 days. I am deeply concerned about these hearings, my fellow Pens fans.

To be frank, I am much more concerned about these hearings than the health of Kris Letang. If Letang has long-term health issues and can’t play this season (and I pray he’s okay), there are specific procedures in the current CBA to deal with that.

If Conor Sheary receives a $4 million-plus annual pay day from the arbitrator, it will not bode well for the future of our team. It will set a standard for all the young kids in our organization that, as I said above, will simply be unsustainable. I also worry about the team’s overall chemistry if that were to occur.

To some, this is not an important issue. Others have no opinion on the subject. I fully understand and support everyone’s right to their own thoughts and feelings.

For me, I wanted to bring up the subject of change, of which much is beyond our control, and the seriousness of the arbitration hearings being held within the next 20 days to light, so people may consider what really is happening inside our NHL.

I leave you all with the ultimate question. What would you do if the independent arbitrator awards Sheary and Brian Dumoulin upwards of $8 million of our $9.6 million in cap space and we are left with less than $2 million to sign two center men?

Remember, what the arbitrator decides is beyond our control.

This will definitely bring change to our team!

Thanks for reading…

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  1. James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
    July 18, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi All,
    One last comment regarding Connor Sheary. I noticed yesterday while reading one of your local sports writers comments, he was saying that when Sheary is signed we will have 13 forwards signed on “one way” contracts , but only 12 forward spots available to play on a nightly basis.
    My first thought was JR will use one of his 3 extra players allowed, 23 in total, above the normal 20 player game day roster. We still will need at least 1, possibly 2 center men. If Cullen is back that gives us 14 forwards on one way contracts for 2017-18.
    His point was he expects to see a trade made to free up the log jam we have at forward. Of course this does not count prospects Sprong or Reese who many believe will be with the big club come the new year.
    So I agree with the author that a trade will most likely be made as soon as it makes good sense talent wise.
    thanks for reading…

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    July 17, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Hey Guys and Gals,
    If Sheary gets a big contract award from the arbitrator, do we keep him or trade him? What is your thoughts.? I did not get an answer to my question I posed.
    Just wondering what the group thinks?
    His .87 PPG average was the fourth highest for all right wingers in the regular season !

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      July 18, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      If he comes in over $3mil trade him to a team looking to make the playoffs for the first time in a while. His playoff stats over both of these past 2 playoff runs were bad as I wrote on a comment on a previous article. He has the worst +/- of the team in the post season during the combined Cup runs and his offensive out puts him the bottom 3 and his S% in the playoffs was 14th on the team over that span.

      If simply getting to the playoffs is the teams goal, he is a good player but when the expectation is a deep playoff run and/or a 3peat a large salary for him is an expenditure the Pens don’t need. Trade him

      • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
        July 18, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Hey the Other Rick
        Do you think Arizona would take him for a trade with one of their young, big left wingers? Tocchet would know what he brings every night. We may have to add another piece but we do have a need to replace Kunitz.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          July 18, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          It is always worth asking, but I would think that Tocchet is going to assemble a team more on the lines of last year CBJ, big and tough.

          • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
            July 18, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

            I think your right OTR. Tocchet is playing in the always physical Western Conference where size and toughness really matters on a nightly basis.
            I just keep seeing the abundance of young, good left wingers in Arizona and they are a bit weaker on the right side, just the mirror opposite of the Pen’s. Hoping there could be a marriage that works for both teams.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            July 18, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

            I like Kuhnhackl and would love to see him get a real shot on the Pens, even if he has to play LW, but he may be a player the Pens might be able to deal to Az if we find a guy that we want.

            However, I would think that Sheary would still represent a fairly attractive player, even if he does get a bigger salary, as I said before, to a team that hasn’t really seen the playoffs in a while and thinks they are pretty close. He does play well in the regular season when the rules are more tightly enforced and the players are still holding themselves back a little in anticipation for the war to come in the post-season. And in a situation like that the Pens probably could get better return than trading Kuhnhackl who has been under-used so far.

  3. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    July 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jim,

    I am right there with you. Just like the bubble hursting in the housing market, there will be day of reckoning and that day will not be that far off in the future. This is not the 90s when Howard Baldwin just kept throwing large chunks of cash out until he went broke. There is a salary cap. A team cannot spend $12mil on McDavid and what is Draisaitl asking $8mil on his extension, and then turn around and $4 million dollars on middle to lower 6 players and that is what is going on. When the piper demands payment mid to lower 6 players will not be able to get anything near their worth because teams will be in hock. They will have no room for the lower 6 veteran under the cap and be forced to play unproven rookies at low salaries or the veterans looking to resign will be forced to play for league minimum. Many teams like NYR will be further hampered by having reduced cap space from paying off contract buyouts like Girardi,

    It seems these people never learn. There is only so much you can really pay.

    That is why I still say it is time to trade Sheary and Domoulin if/when the arbitor gives them big pay checks. Neither is worth $4mil/yr.

    Sheary disappears when he isn’t playing with Crosby and in the playoffs and although Domoulin may have look fairly good in the last 2 playoff series, that may be more due to a drop off in talent of the opponent from the first 2 opponents and more of condemnation of the other D on the team.

    • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
      July 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Hey the Other Rick,
      We are singing from the same song sheet my friend.
      I had a completely different post ready on Friday am and went out for my morning coffee with the hockey gang…One guy said to me…How lucky my Penguins were to have a 2nd year player who scored 53 points this year and when he fully matures he could get 70 to 75 points a season.
      OTR, I almost fainted when he said that because of this darn arbitration hearing coming up. What if the arbitrator feels the same way? You and I both know that Crosby has a lot to do with his success.
      Somebody is going to get an insane amount of money for really only one season of performance. You above all people know what they pay 70 point wingers. It is higher than 4… On Saturday I wrote a new post because this idea bothers me that much.
      If it were me and based on only 1 successful season he would be lucky to get 2 million a year.
      I could be wrong but that is how I feel today.
      Thanks for your excellent breakdown of information.

  4. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    July 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jim,

    I agree with your sentiments about the league. Indeed, the NHL (and its teams) seem to be repeating almost verbatim the mistakes that led to lockouts in 1994, 2004 and 2012. Namely, doling out extraordinarily high salaries, a practice that surely will prove unsustainable over the long haul as you so aptly noted.

    I also agree that it puts enormous pressure on smaller market teams. Their only recourse is to overspend for talent and/or build through the draft, which takes time. Given today’s “win now” culture, probably not a popular or particularly fruitful option.


    • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
      July 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Hi Rick !
      How can the NHL ask 500 million (real dollars) for a new franchise ?? That really is insane given the way these same owners spend like drunken sailors come Free Agency time. I just do not get it….It blows my mind.
      FYI… I talked to my hockey buddy today about this very subject. He said do a little investigation into the last 10 NHL team sales that have happened and you will see in a lot of these situations,the actual cash paid and the number reported by the NHL to very different.
      In short Rick, the NHL paints a bright picture on a “dull” canvass to make outsiders believe that the NHL franchises are worth what the NHL says they are. In reality they are ONLY WORTH WHAT SOMEONE WILL PAY YOU ! Business 101 .
      Funny thing that only one buyer for a new franchise at 500 million was available. If there was such a great demand many others would have put forth offers to purchase one. Never happened . Ever wonder why ??

    • I R A Darth Aggie's Gravatar I R A Darth Aggie
      July 17, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      The only real option for the small market teams is to build thru the draft, find the undiscovered gems, the occasional reclamation project, and the guys with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.

      Build your core, add in some of the role players and you’ll be competitive every 5 or so years for a year or maybe three if you’re lucky. Otherwise, they’ll be money losers, end up getting sold, and moved to bigger markets.

      Maybe that’s the idea?

      • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
        July 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        Hello I R A Darth Aggie,

        Nice go hear from you again. ☺
        You point is well taken about building
        thru the draft and finding hidden gems.
        For a lot of smaller market teams just
        making the play offs is a major accomplishment.
        This arbitrator that will award Brian and
        Connor very big salary increases gives me
        great concern. Hence why I wrote this post.
        Hypothetical situation. Sheary gets 4.2 million
        dollar raise. What does Byran Rust expect next
        year ? 3 million? It goes on and on..
        Where does it stop?

        • Mike's Gravatar Mike
          July 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink


          The Penguins could easily handle the salary cap issues with a couple of trades – JR needs to be a step ahead on this issue.

          A couple of moves to free up the cap and still not drastically hurt the talent or chemistry of the team. Move Hagelin, depending on Sheary’s salary number ( moving Sheary is also an option). I think we tend to forget when you make a trade you get a player in return.

          Im still confused on why JR would let Bonino walk – teams usually know well ahead of Free Agency the chances of hanging on to certain players. Why not trade Bonino at the draft?? You say why would a team do this when Bonino was a Free Agent as of July 1. Simply because there’s no guarantee you will the Free Agent battle.

          I think the Penguins will be fine but again its JR’s job to stay ahead of the curve.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            July 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            Hey Mike,

            I agree, the Pens should be fine. Sheary and Domoulin are peripheral players that can be replaced. Dumoulin is a little more important than Sheary but still, he is hardly a franchise player.

            Once the the Arbitration is over, trade them, particularly Sheary. He really does remind me of Warren Young and Doug Sheddan, riding the coat tails of an amazing C to a big payday. The market for a young player with false, bloated numbers is much better than a veteran. There no doubt are some teams willing to throw the dice and over-pay for his services; just look at some of the stupid numbers that some GMs are tossing around this summer.

            • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
              July 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

              Hey Other Rick,
              As you said last week the only way this ends well is a package trade deal for a third line center and maybe another d man.
              These arbitrators do not work for us, they work for the players in most cases. That is why most GM’s avoid Arbitration like the plague.
              Good discussion oTR.
              We have some new family members….great to see. The more the better. 🙂

          • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
            July 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Hi Mike,
            Welcome to the show. Glad you could join us.
            To address your second point regarding Bonino first, may I add that many of our fellow PP faithful feel the same way as you.I can not speak for all, but many of us felt that Bonino should have been signed at the end of last year even if his new contract did not start until July 2017. Of course we can not be privy to all the info that JR has, but it seemed a mistake to many. Then when it appeared he would not sign this year, I agree JR should have traded him to anybody for what ever he could get for him. A 2nd, 3rd, 5 th round pick at the 2017 draft. The Pens have always been a little guilty of that practice of letting players go for nothing in return.
            To your first point. I agree with the Other Rick and Phil Krundle that Sheary does not warrant a 4 million dollar pay day especially based on the limited amount of time spent in the NHL. Others will disagree and that is absolutely okay with me. That is what makes Pens Poop so special. Passionate fans expressing their view points for all to see and hopefully understand.
            I just looked up some info on NHL.Com – 2016/17 player stats for the regular season. It will open your and many other PP fans eyes.Sheary is ranked 19th in scoring for all left wingers at 23 goals and 20 assist for 53 points. The interesting fact is, # 17, # 18,# 20 and # 21 by ranking also have 53 points. Their names are in order : Chris Kreider, Brandon Saad, CS,Johnathon Drouin and Taylor Hall !!! They are not cheap players .
            Look up Cap Friendly and see what these guys get paid for 2017. It will scare you Mike.
            I have saved the BEST for last .
            Sheary only played 61 games because of injury and most of these others played a full season !
            Sheary’s PPG is an incredible .87 per game.
            HE WAS FOURTH IN THE LEAGUE in this category for all left wingers. The arbitrator will have to take this info above into consideration in making his decision.
            That Mike, really concerns me. I could be wrong,but in my opinion if Sheary played on any other team, or not with Sidney Crosby his numbers would not be this good. But he is going to get paid a lot of money and it will only cause us problems moving forward.
            What is your opinion ?
            Thanks for your post Mike.

            • Mike's Gravatar Mike
              July 18, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink


              Great points – The one thing missing in this equation is Crosby / Malkin. Not to make light of Sheary’s impressive stat line but I really believe you or I could put up a 50pt season playing along side not one but two HOF’s.

              May I also point out that Chris Kunitz had impressive stats from 2011 thru 2013-14 seasons

              2011-12 61pts
              2012-13 52pts
              2013-14 68pts

              I think everyone would agree that although a fan favorite for many good reasons – Kunitz is not
              viewed as a goal scorer. Can you say “Crosby /
              Malkin” !!

              One other note of interest – Kunitz put up 52pts in
              2011-12 which compare favorably to Sheary’s
              53pts while only playing in 48 games.

              My point is given the opportunity to play along side two of the best players in the league the stat line can be mis-leading.

              GO PENS

            • Mike's Gravatar Mike
              July 18, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink


              My apologies – you did make the point that Sheary’s numbers are somewhat bloated playing along side “Sid the Kid”.


            • James Arthurs's Gravatar James Arthurs
              July 18, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

              Hey Mike,
              Great analysis on Kunitz. What he lacked in goal scoring ability he made up in compete level and execution. I really liked Kunitz.
              Your point is well taken in that he is no Steve Stamkos in scoring ability and most definitely playing with 87 and 71 really helped his game.
              I think the same can be said of Connor Sheary as you pointed out above.
              Thanks for sharing your thoughts …


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