Good evening, hockey fans.
I’ve received considerable feedback – some positive, some negative – regarding last night’s game story in Edmonton because of Rob Scuderi’s comments. Here’s the article: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/pensgalleries/5368876-74/penguins-game-malkin#axzz2q1LTFMO5
The veteran defenseman wasn’t impressed with his team’s play to the point that he compared them to the Harlem Globetrotters on two separate occasions.
Some have suggested that Scuderi should have remained silent, given that his recent play hasn’t been top notch.
Others think a veteran, critical voice is just what the Penguins need.
I’m with the latter.
Listen, Rob Scuderi is a good NHL defenseman. He and Brooks Orpik haven’t been great during the past couple of weeks, but history says they’ll find their respective games shortly.
The truth is, Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma brought Rob Scuderi in for times like these.
Make no mistake, the Penguins aren’t dealing with any serious adversity. In fact, they’re running away with the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference while finding themselves on the short list of Stanley Cup favorites. Nothing wrong with that.
But Scuderi is a smart man, and he knows good habits are developed during the regular season. He learned that during the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup run, when they did things the hard way, using a hot stretch merely to qualify for the postseason before winning it all.
Scuderi also surely had his opinion on such matters sculpted in his time with the Los Angeles Kings, when he won a Stanley Cup while playing for a team that most certainly will never be compared to the Harlem Globetrotters. The Kings won with defense and mental toughness.
When I spotted Scuderi sitting by himself in the locker room, I was curious as to how he might respond to the Penguins’ performance against Edmonton. It was a brutal game for the Penguins, who turned the puck over seemingly at will, took foolish penalties and blew defensive assignments.
I loved Scuderi’s response. The look in his eye, which I can only describe because the interview wasn’t captured on video, was of an intense, angry hockey player. Although the Penguins don’t lose often, players like Scuderi don’t accept losing.
You have to appreciate that.
His tone was that of a concerned father. He knows, as well as anyone, how physically gifted the Penguins are. He knows teams with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang shouldn’t lose very often.
But, you see, Scuderi also knows that those players shouldn’t be content to win simply because of their talent alone. And while I assure you that Scuderi did not mention one player by name in our article, I certainly sensed his words were directed toward the Penguins best players.
Letang did not play a strong game and Malkin took a remarkably foolish penalty, one that clearly altered the game.
Scuderi saw this, and he didn’t think much of it. He signed with the Penguins to win a championship and believes that part of his responsibility is saying something when it needs to be said.
Nothing wrong with that.
Billy Guerin used to do it. Orpik still does.
There is nothing wrong with the Penguins leadership. Crosby is a good captain, and no one will ever question this team’s effort. Bylsma’s teams always, always play hard.
But last night, against one of the league’s worst teams, the Penguins put forth a horrendous performance. Scuderi thought the Penguins put the show before winning the game.
He has won two Stanley Cups and is an unquestioned veteran leader. If he believes there is a problem, maybe there is.
And maybe the time to fix it is now, not April.
So for everyone who is referencing Scuderi’s recent play, which hasn’t been terrific, consider this: One of the reasons Scuderi is with the Penguins is to be a leader. When he spoke up last night, he was being a leader.
Rob Scuderi knows how to win Stanley Cups. If Pittsburgh hosts a parade in June, moments like when Scuderi called out his teammates shouldn’t be overlooked.
The man knows how to win, after all. Many of the Penguins stars have won a Stanley Cup. But they haven’t won the Cup since Scuderi left town.
Perhaps that isn’t a coincidence. And perhaps that 2009 team learned a lesson or two from The Piece along the way, too.