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Process of elimination.


Well, dear readers, this is the point on the season where I turn it over to YOU:

Email your thoughts on the season as whole, not just the Round 1 loss, and I’ll post some of the better ones over the next few days in this spot. and include your full name and hometown, otherwise don’t bother.

As always, thanks for reading.



Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. tomas says:

    Process of Elimination? Are you referring to the possible rift between GM Ray Shero and Head Coach Dan Bylsma?? Shero signs and trades for Asham’s, Comrie’s. Kovalev’s and Tangradi’s that his coach seems not to want to play but prefers minor league roster players Connor, Letestu and Lovejoy. Does Bylsma want to replace GM Ray Shero with himself and elevate Tony Granato as head coach because they disagreed on whether to sign Matt Cooke to a new 3 year contract last summer? Who does Ray Shero bring in this summer that Dan Bylsma will play? Any Europeans may be out because Bylsma doesn’t like them and probably won’t play them. It is certainly a strange situation in Pens land isn’t it?

  2. Steve Brooks says:

    The Pens had a great year despite the loss of Crosby and Malkin. But during the final stretch and the series against teh Bolt’s we saw a couple of concerns going into next year, from my perspective.

    Kolvie is old and slow, still has his hands but his heart is gone. Neil was supposed to be the big player in the trade with Dallas, but was not.

    The biggest revelation is Staal. Where was he when the stage is the biggest? He is a big strong stud with a strong work ethic, but is nothing more than a great third line center. He can go get the pucks but his hands limit him on his skill set. Yes he is very important to the Pens, but he is not a go guy.

    Well the best part of sports is that there is alway next year!!

  3. PAT says:

    It seems as if the entire season, that the Pens failed to put and keep, someone in front of the opposing goalies net. On the flip side, they constantly let opposing team’s players park themselves in front of our net, and failed to keep them out. Remember when everyone was upset about Mike Yeo and the poor performing power play last year? Dan Bylsma said that he and Mike both handled the power play last season, but Mike got all the negativity about how bad it performed. Now it seems that it was not Mike’s fault at all, but Bylsma’s. the Pens need to hire someone from the outside that has a good vision of how to handle the power play and keep Byslma out of it.

  4. Bruce says:

    Well one more season in which everyone’s darling GM has failed to address the team’s needs. For more than 4 years the team has needed skilled wingers and a presence in front of the net. Malone was that guy, but Shero lost him while using all his cap space chasing Hossa. (Trading two numbers one picks essentially for Duprius.) He trades a puck moving d-man (Whitney) for grit and a winger prospect that the Coach won’t play. He traded grit (Carcillo) for a washed up fighter, and consistently and defying logic, stockpiles d-man and centers via the draft. (When team needs wingers) Then on trade day he overpays for washed up wingers or prospects that don’t fit in with Coach B’s system and wonders what went wrong! I have a news flash, Next trade deadline the Pens will get a Russian winger who will quit on coach B and we will all be wondering what went wrong.

  5. Blayne Beeler Chantilly, VA says:

    All in all the season was much better than anyone could have anticipated given all the injuries. Latang progressed significantly, Michalek was real good, and of course Fleury did yeomen’s duty. That being said, of course the quick exit from, the playoffs was a letdown, but better I guess than being swept by the hated Capitals in round 2. Shero has a lot of work to do in the off-season if this team hopes to win another cup: #1 – FIX THE PP!! #2 – serious lack of secondary scoring, too many muckers and not enough skill on the lower lines. No team can hope to win a cup w/ only 2 players being counted on to consistently score. This was exposed big-time in the playoffs. And will the real James Neal show in 2012? Or did we already see him (GULP!!)

    Thanks for your great coverage all year!

  6. Gary Smith says:

    Thanks for a great year Pens. While the ending is a little disappointing, there is always next year. This team is built to win for years to come. What they did this year was awesome. To still have regular season success with a large contingent of AHL guys is telling of things to come. While it was disappointing to not have 87 and 71 for the second half, and, playoffs… It would be even worse if either had re-injured themselves coming back early and getting hurt again. The Pens showed this season that they can be good defensively; something I don’t have clear recollection of seeing in the past. If the D can stay that solid next year, there is no limit to what this team can do. Lastly, if you were at the game booing last night… SHAME ON YOU! Was the PP frustrating late in the season and during the first round? YES! However, the magical atmosphere we, the fans, can provide is needed most when our team is facing its’ toughest adversity.

  7. Dan Glunt : Carlisle, PA says:

    I actually am very proud of how the Pens handled adversity
    all season. I mean the coaching staff did a great job with the system
    and accountability. I like the quote used throughout the season the standard
    is the standard. The ownership did a great job of rewarding the fans by
    bringing in Neal & Kovy around the trade deadline. The playoffs were
    a great ride but the power play outage killed us.
    As for the future : hopefully Sid is able to get healthy
    and Geno is ready for training camp. Ray Shero will do his
    job of deciding who to keep and who to bring in. There
    maybe some fan favorites that go via free agency. The
    minor roster changes will be needed. I would just like to
    thank Mario, Ray, Dan for a very exciting season where
    the focus was there.

  8. Josh says:

    Ok–so now will somebody tell us what was the plan with Sid and Geno? Were they ever really likely to return, or were they just dangled to give us hope. Oh well, there is no way this team beats Wash or Philly without Sid and Geno, so maybe it is better this way. At least the draft is on tonight, and I am ALMOST over the Steelers SB choke. Can’t wait until next year.

  9. Joe B. says:

    Two things that glared from this series that were less evident in the second half of the regular season:

    1 – the Pens are too small up front. Where guys like Letestu, Connor, Kennedy, Talbot, Dupuis are needed in the roles they play in the system (a system where Crosby and Malkin are healthy), they are collectively not built to match up physically against an active defense or a skilled, balanced attack like Tampa Bay has. Sure they are agitators when the big guns are healthy, they are also easily agitated against a physically imposing opponent when they are not. Shero did well to address the blueline last year and it showed on the PK where the Penguins are historically average at best. I’m not advocating dumping any of the above and Neal was a great first step in addressing this, but the need for size up front has to be priority number #1 this offseason.

    2 – one cannot view Neal in this post-Crobsy/Malkin vacuum and decide he was a bust. He’s not known as a game changer. He needs time to play with Crosby and Malkin, especially on the PP where he can cause havoc in the crease, similar to Kevin Stevens or Tim Kerr (I’m sure Shero hoped he would provide a scoring spark, but he had to be looking to next year). His best is still to be realized. Hopefully Crosby and Malkin come back 100% for training camp. Give the Neal experiment a year before calling it a failure. He has the size and the hands, a rare commodity on the Penguins.

    Fluery’s stats don’t show it, but when he had chances to make the saves he did. The last three games were a total meltdown, nothing he could or did would stop it.

    Another great reading year. Keep it up!

    Joe B.
    West Hempstead, NY (pre-Mario Pens fan)

  10. Paul says:

    Any Penguins team (no matter who’s on it) is consistantly overrated by the local fans and media. If it was possible to look at it objectively, the ending of this year would not surprise anyone. They have a good team with a very good coach, but not much more than that. To rely so heavily on one or two players to generate the offense is what caused the defeat they just suffered. Players are injured in hockey everyday and having the personnel to withstand those injuries and not completely lose the ability to score goals is what makes a great team. This is not a great team. Time will tell, but it also looks like Shero traded the wrong young defenseman. Not only did Letang have a bad year, but whenever teams go at him physically he takes bad penalties, whines and is thrown off his game. Same thing with Orpik.He is offended when anyone hits him. Most of his hits happen AFTER the opposing player has gotten rid of the puck, which makes for good statistics. He will also NEVER fight, which is an element he is totally lacking in the role of being an intimidating defenseman.

  11. Gregory Horn says:

    So much happening to a team in such a short span of time: moving into a new building, having a group of successful drafts which form a foundation of a championship team, bringing in a young coach with an idea of how to play them game right and change the culture of an organization. Whether we’re talking about the Penguins of the present or the Steelers of the early 70s I believe good things come for an extended period when an organization has a plan and believes in it – the Penguins’ ownership group, management and hockey staff do possess this. There is more excitement to come.

    I am very excited to see what the defense of the Pens over the next couple of years looks like. What will a power play with the gifts Crosby and Malkin bring produce? It certainly won’t be 1 for almost 40. And I believe a year under this system with a complete roster of players who really know how to play with it will produce an even higher point total.And there is no question that Fleury is world class. Next years playoffs I see the demise of Tampa Bay in the first round, Washington in the second, Philly in the third and Vancouver in the Finals all at the Penguins hands. That should shut the

  12. GC says:

    I didn’t expect the Pens to go real far. I just hated to see them lose this series. They played hard. The only thing I am disappointed in is Balsma. All year he changed lines through the course of a game like crazy. I would have like to have seen him mix it up a little bit. You had nothing to lose. Especially after the 8 to 2 loss. As far as the power play, if Gonchar was still here I bet we have a few goals. When he shot the puck I always had a good feeling and felt like we could score. You just couldn’t shut him out forever. Alot of his shots were from the center of the ice. Excluding Crosby and Malkin I don’t get that feeling when anyone else on the team shoots the puck. I just kind of hope it might go in or at least hit the net. I hope Crosby can fully recover otherwise we will be in big trouble unless changes are made. Hopefully next year they can stay healthy.

  13. A season that started off with so much promise ended with a wounded team that refused to ever quit. On New Year’s Eve, the Pens looked like the best team in hockey, only to watch Sid Crosby fall victim to a season ending concussion that had its roots at the Winter Classic by David Steckel’s hit, followed by Victor Hedman’s shot the next game vs Tampa. Soon Evgeni Malkin fell victim to a season ending knee injury.

    Season over, right?

    Wrong, as this resilient group of men fought adversity, tying the Philadelphia Flyers for the division lead in points, but losing the tie-breaker in regulation wins.

    Was it heartbreaking to see this team so pathetic on the Power Play and blow a 3-1 series advantage, with 3 of the losses at home?

    Yes, but at the same time, you had to figure, with Crosby & Malkin out, along with Matt Cooke to a ridiculous suspension by Colin Campbell, that the party was going to end eventually, and it certainly did.

    The future is bright, assuming Crosby will recover fully, and Ray Shero tinkering with the roster to make this team what it should be every year—a Stanley Cup contender. This year they got 106 points with only 2 total games with a fully healthy line-up. After a 2 year hiatus, I feel the Penguins will return to the Finals next season.

    Mike Drakulich, Midland, Pa.

  14. Lisa says:

    I agree with Tomas, comment #1. HCDB seems to like the guys that can kiss
    his ass the most. To NOT play Kovy, on a 6 on 4, was plain ass stupid. Everyone with a brain thought that. Now, yes, Kovy was not GREAT, and I will not sing his praise,
    but he would have given the Pens a shot to score in the final 2 minutes. It’s not his fault no on the Pens could handle his passes. Sid and Malkin could have for sure.

  15. PensFanD says:

    Bylsma really needs to do something to clean up and fix this awful PP.
    It is truly pathetic. Shero needs to find someone to do this. And why does HCDB
    not use the guys Shero has brought in instead of all these lesser guys from
    the minors?? That, in itself, is a HUGE RED FLAG. Could it be that Blysma
    has the mentality of a minor league coach and not a NHL coach??
    And he will never match the skill and wit of the great NHL coaches until
    he figures the right stuf out.

    Shero needs to being in guys that can score, besides Sid and Malkin.
    Look how bad the Pens were at scoring ANT goals wo 87 & 71.

  16. PensFanD says:

    Meant to write—scoring ANY goals wo 87 and 71.

    Here’s to next season. Hope the Pens can achieve what we all want them
    to achieve.

  17. Brad says:

    Let’s cut to the chase…

    1. Bylsma is a good coach- not a great coach. The reason why… adaptation, or lack thereof. Yeo’s gone. Bylsma’s not. PP problem identified.
    2. The D were much improved, but still lack physicality (did anyone notice our forwards got the crap beat out of them in front of the net all season and our opponents often could set up a hot dog stand in Flower’s crease?) I know the rules have changed, but don’t act like you can’t protect your net with more than stickwork. It’s hard to get a rebound from your butt. Orpik-shoot more. Martin- get more physical. Letang- Shoot the puck ON NET! Michalek-stay on PP. Lovejoy-traded next season. Niskannen- better option than Engelland?!?! Seriously?!?!?!?
    4. Mark Letestu is NOT THAT GOOD!
    5. Chris Conner is WORSE!
    6. Work ethic more often than not doesn’t equal goals- it means puck possession. Combined with shooting the puck and crashing the net, it equals goals.
    7. You can’t condemn headshots with Matt Cooke in your lineup.
    8. Staal will never be a dominant offensive force. Neither will Tangradi or Rupp. But if you put them in front of the net on the PP and fire away it will be just like Sarge was back.
    9. Yeah, Roloson was that good.
    10. I’ve never been a Fleury-ite. I am now.
    11. Booing your team during the playoffs? Really?!
    12. However, if fans boo for not shooting on PP, maybe they are onto something…
    13. Give Neal a chance.
    14. The net offers 24 square feet to shoot at, not 36.
    15. I absolutely hate to say it, but Geno will probably be traded in the next two seasons. Don’t worry, it won’t be for Kris Beech.

  18. Brad says:

    Pens’ Roster Breakdown in terms of price and output:

    COACH BYLSMA- Won the cup. Incredible run. Lost two consecutive series that should have been won. Dominant in reg. season, quickly fizzles in playoffs. Inspires the young players, yet alienates some valuable veterans. Ingenious system, HORRIBLE powerplay. Flashes of brilliance, moments of head-scratching. Sits a potential Hall of Famer for Mario Le- I mean, Mark Letestu. Should he get the Adams this year? Absolutely. Should he be here after next year? It’s up to him. Paradox has become his middle name.

    CROSBY- ’nuff said.
    GENO- great player, roller coaster effect. Other teams will soon throw the kitchen sink for him.
    KOVY- couldn’t rekindle the flame. Should be bitter about 6 on 4, but should have shown more before. Time to hang them up but will stick it out another year or two.
    ADAMS- valuable. Wins as many fights as goals scored.
    KUNITZ- Pretty good, but overpaid. Value decreasing per injury. Get something for him now before free agency.
    RUPP- great all-around value. More playing time=more goals? (+4 vs. Bolts)
    NEAL- potential, skills, ability. Nedved-like wrist-shot. Give him a chance with Sid.
    ORPIK- good, slightly pricey. Awesome checker. Gets caught up in trying to draw a call. May be worth a trade for a young winger.
    LETANG- a keeper. Needs to channel frustration to offense instead of roughing.
    COMRIE- brainfart.
    GODARD- great guy, good value. Try using him for something other than fighting once in a while or part ways.
    TALBOT- economical and valuable. Don’t expect 20 goals, expect good hockey.
    STAAL- very good, yet somewhat overhyped on offense. The day will come when Pens decide to keep him or Malkin.
    LETESTU- economical. Some skill. 4th Liner or AHL.
    CONNER- skates like a rabbit. Shoots and stickhandles like a drunken rabbit. Size of a rabbit. AHL or nothing.
    AASHAM- injury-prone. But if he can play like he did in playoffs for 45 games a year, who cares?
    DUPUIS- Talbot, but quicker.
    COOKE- very valuable player, negative impact. Steelers should have gotten rid of Roethlisberger- Pens in same situation minus multiple sexual assault charges which, believe it or not and whether guilty or not, did not materialize out of imagined perceptions precipitated from a safe environment or situation. Sometimes principles should dictate policy. The Pirates may not be awesome yet, but at least they haven’t been caught up in the steroid saga. Thanks and in all sincerity, Good Luck, Cooke.
    JEFFREY- a full season still needed for evaluation.
    ENGELLAND- enforcer who can play. He’s not Nick Lidstrom. Most would rather fight Lidstrom.
    LOVEJOY- some skill, no grit. Has to be paired with a tough d-man.
    KENNEDY- empirically, was a fluke year. Don’t expect 20 goals next season.
    MICHALEK- solid. LET HIM SHOOT MORE! Could use more grit.
    MARTIN- for lack of a better term, kinda girly, yet solid. Pens got two of the best and d-men available last year. Now they need to clear the crease.
    NISKANEN- why did we extend Engelland and bring him in? The two had almost identical stats. The major difference is evident.
    TANGRADI- time to sink or swim. Titanic or Michael Phelps?
    FLEURY- never thought I would say this… MVP!!!!!!! If someone else wins the Hart something is seriously wrong with hockey. You can’t tell me any other single player in the league was more single-handedly important to their team than the Flower.
    JOHNSON- Makes you miss Danny Sabourin… like the flu. Quite possibly the best backup in the league and well worth the cost. Early season MVP, class-act and a helluva left cross. Just ask DiPietro.

  19. Tracey says:

    Well I think Brad pretty much nailed it. The ONLY point I have a difference of opinion on is Cooke. I believe he is worth giving a chance next season & see if he holds up his end of the deal & makes the changes in his game that are necessary to play in the “new” NHL. He will have to prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Other than that I don’t think Brad left much else for anyone to say.

  20. Frank says:

    i am scared for Sid and Geno. Sid was run over when he did not feel Steckel roaring up behind him, and he couldn’t brace himself for any hit — he was totally relaxed and unexpecting the hit. This may be a forever, lifetime concussion, like LIndros or LaFontaine. Geno was fallen on by a clumsy, oafish 6’8

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