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Shero’s job anything but safe

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Dan Bylsma’s as good as gone, and Ray Shero’s job is anything but safe. In fact, all I’ve heard in the past 12 hours would powerfully indicate that the Penguins’ upper management is every bit as disenchanted with their GM as their head coach. And to reiterate, though now with greater emphasis than what I wrote earlier in the week, the drafts are the primary issue. As they should be.

This is a sensitive time for all concerned. You can’t print everything you hear, or you risk burning bridges. I won’t do that. But I do feel compelled to share that much.

And no, there is no firm sense for a time element, though logic would dictate it’ll be very soon.

Here’s a TribLIVE Radio podcast from this morning about Shero, Dan Bylsma, the Penguins and more.

For continuing coverage of this and today’s getaway session and more, follow our beat writers Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe on TribLIVE’s Penguins page.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Lad 9 says:

    Thanks DK. I appreciate the window behind the scenes. Can’t say I’m surprised. It has been pretty obvious for quite some time and that either the Penguin’s drafts or player development processes are grossly inadequate. As many others have said before me, our bottom six forwards just do not get it done, and there just is no upgrade in the pipeline.

  2. mike says:

    makes sense (normally) to keep a GM throughout the draft process….in this case, however, i don’t know….will a bunch of duds just get picked again….

    a thought on sid that we’ve ignored for a bit…his production in the regular season dropped off after duper was injured….this was magnified in the playoffs….not trying to make an excuse, but dupuis sure would finish off some that gibbons let float off his stick…

  3. Nate83 says:

    Not surpised at all myself. Last year he was given the freedom to sort of go all. Granted he got a lot without giving up too much but draft picks and prospects where lost. The all in didn’t only not produce a trip to the Stanley Cup but it brought a clean 4-0 sweep out of the Conference Finals. Ownership has given him just about anything he wanted with a pocket aces as a starting point in Crosby and Malkin and the results just haven’t reached expectations.

  4. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s probably about as thorough and succinct an analysis as I’ve seen.

  5. Andrew says:

    I posted this link in the Morning thread, I think it is a fair look at Shero’s tenure.

  6. chethejet1 says:

    I disagree. Two number two’s for Murray was way to much for a journeyman Dman. Young D for an aging forward who was a slow bad fit was shakey. Iginla, not sure how much his lw lock status whole time he was here was on Shero, but have to believe he needed to tell Bylsma before and after the trade he was Crosby’s RW. Don’t forget the competing against himself signings of Kunitz, Dupuis and Scuderi. Extending Bylsma twice after poor playoff performances was simply astounding. On top of that hired Martin to tell Bylsma what to do. Wrong guy went to the Shrink.

  7. Craig Patrick was hired, won a Cup soon after that and then stayed for over a decade on that fame. Shero might be described the same way (except for the “over a decade” part).

  8. Jandy says:

    “Wrong guy went to the Shrink.”


  9. hockeymonster says:

    Without pouring fuel on the fire may i suggest a name or 2 we should consider hiring in some capacity? Even if Mr. Shero stays(which i think should be seriously considered unless he’s tied to disco’s hip) I’d like to see Mr. Burkle and Mario interview Rick Paterson and Martin Madden who respectively are Directors of Player Personnel and Amateur Scouting for Anaheim. They’ve drafted some impressive prospects without the benefit of high picks every year. 2 names worth keeping an eye on besides people from Detroit, boston and LA.

    And I’m told the hockey version of Bill James is still a UFA as well. ;)

  10. Nate83 says:

    That’s me succinct and thorough. Do I have your permission to show my wife this comment to show her these qualities do exist in me? While we are at it can you add a few othe adjectives like thoughtful and charming.

  11. Stephen Powanda says:

    Bylsma at the latest should have gone after last year. Something about Shero I like but he drafts small, Skill is important but we also need some size and toughness. If he can’t provide that then it is time for him to move on. What has Bennett ever done? Orpik is old and injured. I’d like to keep Nissky. Get someone to clear the crease and someone to pay back the player that abuses Crosby. I really need to see some moves. I will never watch or go to a game with Bylsma coaching the Pens!!!

  12. Arriba Wilver says:

    Trying to evaluate trades to try to get over the top based on 2 number 2’s being too much is just patently unfair, to me. You pay what you have to pay to get what you think you need. And I think they should fire him. But nitpicking is crazy. He went all in on Bylsma last year, they’ve apparently decided he has to go, so Shero has to go, too, unless there’s some other overriding reason he should stay,

    It sure shouldn’t be based on overpaying to get players to try to maximize your chance at a Stanley Cup.

  13. seabiscuit says:

    I cancelled my season tickets two years ago because of Bylsma. Thought he was horrible then. Even worse now.

  14. Eric from Gburg says:

    DK, maybe I’m just new to this but, wouldn’t a GM rely more on his scouts regarding the draft? If that’s the case then maybe he just needs newer scouts. IMO, Shero has done the best he could with what he’s had.

  15. Not sure what that last sentence means. What have been the limitations? Financial?

    Also, every GM in every sport is either responsible and culpable for a draft or should be. The days of that not being the case are long gone.

  16. SheckyW says:

    Name one Pen that has come through WBS in the last few years that made an impact? Shero has to be held accountable. As far as HCDB, he is a good coach that was hurt by his early success. I don’t think he has learned the nuances of coaching in the NHL. He should take a job as an NHL assistant for a couple of years.

    As far as player moves, I will not reveal anything until after I am officially named GM.

  17. Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    I would think that the ownership team would do its do diligence on any management changes.

    Biggest question is whether or not there is anyone available that can do the job better.

    Believe it or not, they’ve had a decent run. Just fall off during the post season.

    I do think a change at head coach is due.

  18. Rock Ain't Dead says:

    Is the rain holding off the torch and pitchfork crowd from storming the Pens offices today?

  19. Jim Gillingham says:

    Dejan. The Pens picked late in the drafts, that is why they picked defensemen (they develop later…so you have better chance that one turns out). Kunitz. Neal. Sutter. Jokinen. I count 4 really good trades there. Lovejoy, Letestu, Tangradi…I count only three players that SHERO traded away that are having some impact in the league.

  20. seabiscuit says:

    Dejan, I would think Sidney takes things very seriously. Do you think ridicluous things like mustache boy made him lose respect for Bylsma?

  21. Nate83 says:

    I could buy that being a slight factor if he was only a few years in on the job but if the scouts are part of the problem it should have been rectified by this point and the buck stops with Shero. He is responsible. The Pirates completely overhauled there scouting in a few short years with credit to Nutting for blessing it and providing the resources to do it. I find it hard to believe Shero wouldn’t have gotten the same support from ownership if that was his intentions. Overall philosophy of type of players an organization wants is also set by GM and followed by all involved in drafting.

  22. Jonathan says:

    Shero also let Matt Moulson walk unsigned after he was drafted by the Penguins. He’s made a pretty solid impact in the league.

    He let Jake Muzzin walk unsigned after being drafted by the Penguins. He scored the Kings’ first goal last night.

    You didn’t include Jordan Staal or Alex Goligoski as players traded away with impact. Goligoski had a career high in points this year. Brandon Sutter is no Jordan Staal.

    Ray Shero passed over John Gibson, who would be a nice back up plan for Fleury, and Brandon Saad, who would be a nice entry-level contract forward — both of whom are from Pittsburgh — to take Joe Morrow, who was traded for Brendan Morrow’s ghost.

    The second most productive forward he’s drafted behind Jordan Staal has been Dustin Jeffrey.

    He’s as much to blame as anyone for the mess the Penguins find themselves in. Period.

  23. Arriba Wilver says:

    I blew my “compliment Nate83″ wad on that one.

    But, it was sincere. ;-)

  24. Patrick the prodigal malcontent says:

    I’ve always had a rub when it comes to the “development of talent” in any sport.

    Is it the coaches fault for failing to capitalize on a players talent?


    The GM’s fault for failing to draft enough/right kind of talent?

    With another coach is Simon Despres a top 4? Same with BB? Could another coach win division titles 2 years in a row with bottom 6 guys like Gibbons, Megna and Sill? Or are they talented and he simply failed to utilize that talent? It’s a chicken/egg scenario. A lack of organizational talent is certainly SOMEBODY’S fault…but who’s? Remember all those years of Pirates players blooming on other teams?

    You could just fire them both and be sure, but you might be losing a valuable employee.

  25. hockeymonster says:

    And chicago is worth looking at too…obviously. Norm Maciver is assistant GM and Mark Kelley is director of amateur scouting. Just sayin…no disrespect

  26. Patrick the prodigal malcontent says:

    Regardless of who’s fault it is or why I don’t see how Bylsma keeps his job. At some point just getting into the playoffs isn’t good enough. Maybe in lesser hockey-mad markets like Phoenix and Miami this kind of performance would pass as acceptable, but not in Pittsburgh. You can make excuses for a few of the disappointments the last few years. Rask was a unbeatable. Halak never was or has been as good as he was for 7 games against Pittsburgh in 2011. The injuries/suspensions against Tampa Bay….

    But at some point you can’t make excuses anymore. Allowing DB to keep his job would be owners public admission that they are happy with blowing 3- series leads to lesser talented teams. For god’s sake the team they just lost to had their two best players (St Louis and Nash) score a combined ONE goal in 7 games. Somebody has to wear it….and players have guaranteed contracts, so…

  27. chethejet1 says:

    Shero went all in on Bylsma. That is the issue and the draft. He backed the wrong horse twice. Do you actually believe any GM worth his salt would do that? He has to go in my world. And he knows it. He knew the ramifications of another Bylsma failure.

  28. Patrick the prodigal malcontent says:

    Grit and toughness isn’t exactly hard to draft, either. The WHL is full farm boys that like to hit people. Not to trivialize the scouting process but it can’t be that hard to find a guy in Saskatchewan that can skate fast until he hits something in the other colored jersey. Personally….i thought Zac Sill looked pretty good in the 10+ games he was up last fall.

  29. Eric from Gburg says:

    All I meant was that it isn’t easy getting top forwards when you’re picking in the 20s, as opposed to teams like Edmonton, who are picking #1 overall most years. Maybe the Oilers are a bad example since they still haven’t got it right.

  30. Eric from Gburg says:

    Can’t say that about Tangradi. He is horrible.

  31. Sarah says:

    Let’s not get crazy here.
    The Pens were not looking to back up MAF when Gibson came through the draft in 2011.

  32. Arriba Wilver says:


  33. Sarah says:

    Bylsma SAID Despres was top 4 last year, then proceeded to d-ck him around all season.
    Arguably the treatement has stunted the guy’s development, never mind hurt the team.

  34. Sarah says:

    Yup. They go together.

    No pun intended.

  35. Sarah says:

    Awful indeed.

    DIdn’t stop DB from trying him on Malkin’s W and the 1PP.

  36. Patrick the prodigal malcontent says:

    And the Pens do have a player to watch Sid’s back. Engelland had a permanent seat in the nacho line in the press-box, as one reporter put it. I forget which one…;)

    I love Maata. Really, I do. Great kid, will be a all-star blue-liner for years. might go down as the best draft pick Shero ever made.

    But this spring he looked lost. Tired. Just worn out. Between a full NHL season AND the Olympics he exceeded the most games he had ever played in a year by over 20+. The last period of his final game, when he skated right in on his own goalie and nearly poke checked the puck into his own net, personified his playoffs. It was a learning year.

    That was also evident in the CBJ series. He struggled way back then, and it was obvious. They should have sat him down and started Engelland. Period. Dubinsky was pounding the crap out of Sid and nobody could (or would) take issue with it. Damn sure Engo would have. And how critical was Maata’s contribution as a 5th defensman when his play had obviously slipped?

    Of all of DB’s failure that’s the one that bother’s me a lot. Letting Sid take a beating and not taking the rookie out of the lineup when it was obvious he was in over his head. Letting a rookie get his head kicked in every night doesn’t help anyone, especially not Maata. Starting Engo solves both IMO.

  37. Big Possum says:

    Too bad Rutherford resigned in Carolina. A long-awaited promotion might have lured Ron Francis here, if he hadn’t already gotten it. I expect he’ll be a very good GM. I don’t blame Shero for not taking Saad, because I think that was the Olli Maata pick. I blame him for consistently trading high picks for rental players. Iginla cost a 1, 2, and Hanowski, who might make it. Love Iginla, but by losing him you actually lose three potential NHL players who would have arrived for the second half of Crosby and Malkin’s careers. Shero likely would have drafted an NHL forward or two, if he had kept more of his high picks. Staal was the only trade that improved our stockpile. So who can be traded now, without weakening the team? Pouliot? Neal and Letang, both with serious issues, might bring third line wingers now and future prospects, but at the expense of top line players. I fear there may be a few down years to come. As has been amply noted, Crosby and Malkin are in their primes. Not a good time to find the depth lacking and the cupboard bare.

  38. Dan Novak says:

    Shero stays Trotz hired Neal traded Nisky signs elsewhere …Please no Kesler !!

  39. Eric Bowser says:

    Well, well, well…

    Pretty sad an out of touch former blogger like myself has been talking about these very issues for a few years now and now the ownership feels the need to think about it, media to fan the flames and fans are echoing the sentiment.

    This isn’t a knock on anyone just the general group-think culture that has invaded fans and media. Sad it took this long for criticism to ratchet to this level.

  40. JohninOshkosh says:

    Glad you checked in on this, Eric.

  41. Sarah says:

    Same here except for the former blogger part.

  42. Eric Bowser says:

    I’ve tried to be quiet during playoffs because I’ve made my opinion quite known for the last three years and beating that dead horse was pointless.

  43. Timd says:

    One thing arguing in favor of Shero’s retention is that a significant number of trades must be executed and executed well to reshape the roster. I think there is some consensus that he seems to perform this part of the job well. If you look at the age of player and length of contract in question, Scuderi, Kunitz, Dupuis, Neal, Letang all are trade possibilities in the coming years, and you can’t do them all immediately without losing an incredible amount of leverage in negotiations. Best return may be from Neal trade, the older guys the obviously toughest to move.

  44. hockeymonster says:

    Oh and almost forgot…got a D. Pouliot update:

    Saw a good chunk of his game 7 shifts and am pleased to report there seemed to be some fundamental improvement. Still lacking in physical want to however. But DP, next time you get stuck defending a 2 on 1 cuz the other dman fell, try shading over to open guy and force puck carrier to commit to shot. Then you can scoot over and in some cases disrupt the shot and the pass with stick on puck or by sliding across. That goal wasn’t on you but thought you could’ve done that detail a little better. Ask someone to send you some clips of Scuderi back in the day. Actually quite common for dmen to play 2 on 1’s in that way. Good luck in WB! Van Slyke will be watching.

    Mr. Burkle and Mario, no worries. Do what you gotta do. I got this! :)

  45. Jim M says:

    If Gibbons kept his stick on the ice more, he would have scored regardless. My guess Sid would have just banked it off his stick.

  46. Stuart says:

    And, you weren’t sure who would win the last series.

    Just sayin.


  47. One can only hope that the Bucs can start winning on the road and soon, since they are now only 5-12 outside of PNC Park and still can’t seem to beat the Brewers in Milwaukee except on rare occasions such as this past Wednesday night. Meanwhile, we’ll just have to wait and see as to whether the Pens will fire GM Ray Shero since Mario’s apparently undecided as to whether to do that or not for whatever the reason.

  48. Stu Neft says:

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Why would anyone in their right mind think keeping Bylsma or Shero would produce different results than we’ve seen the last five years?

    Let’s blow it up now so we can start the rebuilding as soon as possible

  49. The latest on the Pens right now is that Yokkinen, a free agent, admitted that he played this season with a wrist injury although he also said he wouldn’t need surgery. And Sidney said, naturally, that he didn’t think that the Rangers threw him off his game.

  50. Sidney also denied, naturally, that he and Coach Dan Bylsma didn’t see eye to eye, and he also said that such is rumor connected with a losing team.

  51. Mike412 says:

    Since he drafted Jordan Staal, the players drafted by Shero in six drafts have contributed a total of 37 goals in 6 seasons. Nine of those have come from Maata, a defenseman. The always-injured Bennett, a first round selection, has contributed a total of 6. But, Bennett was always injured in college too, a fact that apparently every GM other than Shero knew.

    Shero not only has drafted horribly, but he also hitched his wagon to Bylsma by signing him to a two-year extension right after last year’s playoff debacle.

    He must go. Yes it’s only a month prior to the draft, but if he stays we will have another horrible draft.

  52. Gene Romano says:

    Need to hear from Mario now. What he has to say….”It’s time to reset the organization. Our ownership group must provide a new vision for the hockey organization not the “brand”. Our new GM and new coach must give us a new culture, system and player development to win in the playoffs. Our captain needs to to lead with a renewed passion, maturity and personal accountability. Our players must commit to an unconditional promise to each other to play the right way FOR each other”….or something like that. Leadership and accountability starts from the top. Mario?

  53. JohninOshkosh says:

    Excellent. Thanks for linking.

    “Crosby looked like a guy sitting in an H&R Block.” Great.

  54. DJ says:

    We did not draft Bennett out of college, Mike.

    He had already committed to attend the University of Denver by the time of the draft, got drafted and then attended U of D.

  55. hockeymonster says:


  56. Ralph says:

    Talk about groupthink. Just head over to that Pensburgh blog. The few users who have dared criticize the pens organization last offseason after the Boston debacle were accused of overreacting. Now a bunch of those guys are joining the bandwagon when they refused to engage in honest debate a year or two ago with those who would point out some troubling signs. Even if you praised Shero for his good trades or Bylsma for his regular season success, that wasn’t good enough when you dared bashing them for their other failures. If you want to trade Letang when he was at his peak instead of paying him that ridiculous contract, you were looked on as a spoiled brat who felt entitled to a cup win every year.

  57. BillyBaduka says:

    Great article, thanks Milo.

    “Corporate Penguins” – perfect.

    Agree with their take on Neal, eloquently summed up …

    “Neal never took responsibility for his play in the defensive end or neutral zone. He was like a devastating Howitzer cannon that had to be painstakingly wheeled into position by other soldiers. As was so painfully evident when Malkin was taken off his line to play with Crosby, Neal cannot create his own shot.”

  58. Bob W. says:

    Dejan – Do you think the Penguins’ front office included the U.S. Olympic team’s disheartening finish in Sochi in their ultimate evaluation of Bylsma, if only subliminally? Thanks for the coverage and commentary.

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