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Exclusive interview: Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Just spent a half-hour meeting with Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle in a Consol Energy Center office. Only others in the room were David Morehouse, CEO, and Tom McMillan, VP of communications.

Keep refreshing, as I’m just going to keep updating the file as I type it out. The entire conversation was on the record.

DK: What’s the best way to describe what was announced today?

Burkle: Well, let’s start with this: We start here with a lot of great qualities. We’ve got a community that gives us a lot of support, the fans, the youth hockey, a lot of different areas that allow us to run to the cap if that’s the place we need to be. And we wake up every day with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. So we wake up in a pretty good place.

We aren’t happy to be in the top quartile. If you make it to this round, you’re in the top quartile. That’s good enough for some. It isn’t where we want to be. And as we looked at this team as a whole, the whole year and not Game 7, we don’t think we’ve got a team that’s got all the ingredients we’d need to have for a championship team. And all the things we’d expected to have for a championship team. So, to us, well before Game 7, we looked at how best we’d need to find those things …

Lemieux: The grit, the character. Even on the special teams, you’ve got to have some guys in the playoffs with grit, with character, as well as speed.

DK: Now, you always had that around you, that grit and character. No matter who you had to tick off, you made sure you had it.

Lemieux: (Laughs) Like I’ve said before, it’s a two-month tournament. To get to the end, you’ve got to go through a lot of adversity.

DK: Now, when some hear that, they think right away of fighters. That’s not what it’s about, is it?

Lemieux: No, just players who have some grit and character. We felt that was lacking this year.

Burkle: No matter how well we did this year, we didn’t have that. And it was something that had to be addressed.

DK: The root of any successful franchise is the draft. How big of a problem was the drafting?

Lemieux: It’s a problem. We’ve drafted well on defense. We’ve got some great prospects coming up, guys who are still in Wilkes-Barre, in juniors. We haven’t done as well at forward, obviously, but we’ve got some defensemen, some young guys we feel can step in over the next year or two.

DK: Why wouldn’t there have been a recognition earlier on that this team wasn’t tough? I mean, you could see in training camp that wasn’t the case.

Lemieux: (Shrugs)

DK: Yeah, me, neither.

Lemieux: That’s just the way the team was put together.

DK: Was there ever any edict from either of you, after the Matt Cooke mess, that the Penguins had to become this squeaky-clean team?

Burkle: We’ve read that. It’s not true.

DK: You know what I’m asking, right? This idea that because Mario spoke up about the Islanders a couple years ago that the Penguins had to become the role model?

Lemieux: No. Not at all.

DK: OK, then, so what does this team look like to you going forward? And I know that’ll ultimately be up to the new GM, but what does that look like to you in the context of this NHL with what you see around the league? Because you’re not seeing as much obstruction as in the past. You’re seeing teams come back from big deficits.

Lemieux: Yeah. You need speed. Look at Montreal, the way they’re built. They have some smaller forwards, but they’re all speedy and they’ve got grit, and they’ve got character. That’s probably what we’d like to have.

DK: Is that why a little guy like Brian Gibbons looked effective in these playoffs?

Lemieux: I think that’s where the league is going now, with more speed. But of course, you need the grit and character along with the speed. If you have those, you’ve got a pretty good chance at being successful.

DK: You both saw Sid’s body language in these playoffs, or for most of them. Especially early in the Columbus series. Did he want a change? He doesn’t strike me as the type, but did he ever ask you for a change?

Lemieux: No, he’s not the type. (Laughs.) At all. I think Sid would be the first one to say he was disappointed in the way he played. I think we all saw that. We’re disappointed, as well. But it’s up to us to surround him with the players that he needs to be successful.

DK: You’ve been there. You know how that feels. When you talk about the psychology of the star player … look it’s one thing for people like me or Don Cherry or whoever to say a guy should just fight through it, but don’t you eventually get sick of being punched in the back of the head?

Lemieux: It’s hard, yeah. That’s why you need guys around you to give you a little room. The playoffs are different. You do have to take a lot of stuff out there, and you do have to fight through it, and you do have to keep your composure. But you also need help.

DK: So, what are we looking at here, some massive overhaul?

Lemieux: That’s going to be up to the GM. That’s why we’re going to go through this the next couple of weeks, hire somebody and start looking at hockey operations and go from there.

Burkle: We had more grit and character when we had all our kids up. Remember that?

DK: I do. I covered that game in December up at the Garden where almost half the roster was up from Wilkes-Barre. One of the most disciplined games you had all season.

Burkle: It’s funny, but we felt like had a lack of that earlier in the year, even though we were winning. But that group performed with even more grit and character.

DK: Well, they listened, too? It was a bunch of Zach Sill and Phillip Samuelsson, but they all did what they were supposed to do.

Lemieux: Phil played well. A lot of them did.

DK: Is this roster too old?

Burkle: That’s part of what we’re talking about right now with the younger guys. You can look at the draft and say what we did or didn’t do, but we’ve got forwards and D-men who we have drafted and didn’t always take advantage of them or done a lot with them. So we have ended up with an older team. When we do see our younger guys, we see a lot more energy, a lot more of what we’d like to see in our game. So maybe those guys at the Garden were playing a little bit ahead of their ability. They made up with their energy.

DK: We saw some of that in Columbus, too, right? It wasn’t just about the city’s excitement. They had Ryan Johansen, a lot of other young players, all who were really amped up just to be there.

Lemieux: They had that nice mix of older and younger players that you need in the playoffs. A lot of fresh legs.

Burkle: Frankly, the salary cap situation is going to drive that anyway. With a cap system, you can’t just have a bunch of senior people on the team. You can’t afford to.

DK: On that note, this team has been guilty, at least in my estimation of not giving its younger players a chance. I’m not going to paint Simon Despres as Bobby Orr, but he didn’t get a chance. It’s the regular season, you’re on your way to 51 wins, and no one ever found about the kid, you know?

Lemieux: Yeah.

Burkle: Agree with that 100 percent.

DK: What’s the best way to describe how disappointed you guys are? I know how you felt about Ray as a GM and person. How disappointed must you be to have reached this point?

Burkle: I think we looked hard at ourselves last year. We spent a lot of time sitting in this very room last year, trying to figure out what changes should we make, what should we do. And we made the decision to bring another coach in and have a look, see if we could be more flexible, try to adapt between how we were playing in the regular season and in the playoffs.

DK: Jacques Martin.

Burkle: Yes. And Ray made a strong argument for what he wanted to do, for the continuity he wanted, for extending the contracts, all the stuff you know about. I think the piece that was added, really by Mario, and that was embraced by Ray was to bring the other coach in and change the ability to adapt to situations. And if you look back at that today, in some ways, I wish we hadn’t made that bet. Because that’s another year. So if we’re disappointed, it’s that we lost a year to the change that we should have made already.

It’s hard when you look in the first round at a guy playing pretty well for the other team, and we got a fourth-round draft pick for him.

DK: Mark Letestu.

Burkle: Yes. So we’ve got to take a look at different ways to do this.

DK: You could say that about Ben Lovejoy, I suppose, and others, too.

Burkle: On and on and on. So we haven’t given those younger guys a chance. We haven’t gotten that right mix on the ice.

We’re a team that’s been talking about finding forwards for Sidney all this time. We haven’t been drafting those forwards, and we’ve given up some younger players along the way. That has to change.

DK: Let’s talk about Kris Letang. There’s a decision to be made, as his no-trade clause will kick in after this summer. Will that be made by ownership? That’s a pretty big call.

Lemieux: That’s on the GM. We signed Kris to keep him. But when the GM comes in, he’s going to evaluate the team. If he sees fit to trade any of these players, he’ll certainly talk to us about it. But it’s his call.

DK: You believe in Kris Letang?

Lemieux: Yes.

DK: Is there any value in the NHL’s current economic system to maintaining some kind of cushion with the cap?

(Both men laugh.)

Lemieux: Yeah. How do we do that?

DK: Well, by drafting better? Don’t you have to have four or five younger players on your roster for that purpose alone?

Burkle: We certainly don’t disagree with you on that. I think when we made a decision for a lot of good business to go to the cap six years ago, we were opening a new arena, and we wanted to let our fans know we intended to win. It was actually one of those two or three moments where we all got involved in the hockey operations, the GM’s world, and everything else. It’s ultimately our decision how much we spend, but we all sat down and said, look, you guys have a plan for the team you want to have in five years, we want to step it up. We don’t want to wait five years. I’ve got Crosby now. I’ve got Malkin now. I don’t think a five-year plan makes sense.

But what that wasn’t was a commitment to spend to the cap just to say we spent to the cap. And I think what we fell into was spending to the cap just because it was there. We don’t have a driven reason to spend to the cap just to do it. That’s foolish.

Lemieux: That’s something we’ll be looking as all this unfolds.

Burkle: It’s kind of a different issue, but we’ve talked in the past about a resistance to identifying someone who’s a good, young player and locking them up early. That can make a difference.

DK: Other than James Neal, I’m struggling to think of an example.

Lemieux: (Smiles) Matt Niskanen?

DK: Right. Why wait?

Lemieux: He’s a good player.

DK: OK, so as much as I appreciate this, there are people who want to know why you both didn’t make this announcement or attend the press conference today? Do you want to wait until all the pieces are in place? Obviously, people want to hear from you. Both of you, but especially you. (Nod toward Lemieux.)

Burkle: It’s neither one of our styles. There’s no dissension between us, but there’s no worry between the two of us as to who’s going to go out front. It’s neither of us. (Both laugh.) That’s David’s job.

DK: Can you both realistically say that a lot of the stuff that looks like it doesn’t make sense today will make sense before long?

Lemieux: I would say so.

DK: Because, to be honest, seeing that Dan Bylsma is still here doesn’t look like it makes sense right now.

Burkle: Well, let me take that. Just because someone makes a clean sweep doesn’t make something right.

Morehouse: And not reacting emotionally rather than systematically.

Lemieux: There are a few franchises that have done it. I won’t name them.

Morehouse: But as Ron has said, we’re starting from a different point. This isn’t a team that didn’t make the playoffs. This is a team that has a lot of assets already. So what we’re trying to do is systematically figure out how to get to a higher level. You do that carefully. You do that in a way that allows you to make either major or minor adjustments.

DK: So what we’re getting that with all of this is that the new GM, whoever that is, will do all of that.

Burkle: I like to give the example of a company I bought some 20 years ago, and everybody always looks smart when they come in and change everything. So my guys go in there, lay everybody off, then hire a headhunter … and recruit some of them back. So they’re getting their severance and their pay.

We do some things right here. I’ve told you about the things we’ve done wrong, so we made a change at the top. But what we really want is the best team, so when we bring in a GM, we’re going to give him the ability to change it the way he wants.

DK: OK, I have to ask this: So there’s nothing ugly in this like hoping that Bylsma resigns to save you the rest of his contract, or keeping him from the openings in Washington or Carolina?

(Room gets pretty animated.)

Lemieux: No. If Dan was fired, he’d get a job tomorrow.

DK: So you wouldn’t keep him from another opportunity if it came?

Lemieux: No! No chance.

Morehouse: You can’t make that point without considering the character and history of these two men. It’s not a point you make in a vacuum. Look at what these guys have done. Nothing that they’ve done would lead you to believe they’d keep someone on to not pay them. Or that they’d try to prevent someone from coaching.

DK: It’s a question I have to ask.

Morehouse: These guys, Ray and Dan, were part of a Stanley Cup team, and they’ll always be part of that. We’re not trying to [stick it to] anybody. Come on, you know these guys.

DK: I want to portray this as accurately as possible. That’s why I’m asking.

So to repeat all this back, your mission here is to bring in a GM with real hockey authority and allow him the ability to pick how he wants and doesn’t want out of this group. Is that right?

Morehouse: Yes. And this group we have has had enough of a level of success that you owe it to them and to the new GM.

DK: OK, that’s what I’m asking.

Burkle: It’s funny because, in business, if you ever just cleaned house, that wouldn’t make sense to anybody. People think something’s wrong with you. Especially when not everything is broken.

DK: And this new GM can come in and do what he wants.

Burkle: Yes.

(That’s it. Believe it or not, we started talking about tennis next.)

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.

Comments

  1. Jeff says:

    Babcock???

  2. Jim S. says:

    Boom! DK with the scoop!

  3. THEJROD says:

    could this possibly be a coaches trade with the Red Wings? I know it’s not allowed in the NHL, but they could buy out eachothers contracts and the end result would essentially be a buyout. Mario/Burkle would look like geniuses

    Bottom line is, I, and a lot of others, would LOVE to have Babcock on the Pens…. but this seems too farfetched to actually happen.

  4. THEJROD says:

    end result would be a trade, not a buyout**

  5. Robert says:

    “And as we looked at this team as a whole, the whole year and not Game 7, we don’t think we’ve got a team that’s got all the ingredients we’d need to have for a championship team.”

    Glad to see this acknowledged.

  6. ludge says:

    Did you ask them why they didn’t speak today? Why not?

  7. Jandy says:

    Didn’t expect anything less :)

  8. Josh says:

    Good scoop dk as always!!

  9. Harry Klaus says:

    Great job Dejan!

  10. nosemaj says:

    Not just grit, says 66, but character. Wonder if this isn’t a partial indictment of the stars as well as Shero’s inability to get good bottom-six sandpaper guys.

  11. joe walsh says:

    dejan, any gm candidates besides botterill mentioned? any time frame on when they want to have a gm in place?

  12. Aj says:

    He’s in contract until he end of next season. Unfortunately, Detroit is probably not inclined to release him of that. Would be a great fit, I think.

  13. Thundercrack says:

    Good job and I’m glad he posted this

    But I do wonder if they spoke to other columnist/reporters. I believe Gene Collier also has quotes from Mario & Burkle

  14. Jim S. says:

    Has Bylsma been rumored to be replacing Babcock in Detroit? Has to work for them also.

  15. Rick says:

    Will Lemieux have a sit down with Bettman?

  16. Arriba Wilver says:

    I wonder if the “character” is a reference to Neal, maybe among others.

  17. Coaches cannot be traded in the NHL. That’s not to say the back a back room deal for “future considerations”.

  18. Jeff says:

    All depends if they dont sign an extension this summer, he may asked to be released from his contract.

  19. joe walsh says:

    seems like wasted year if Ownership identified 3rd/4th line issues, grit etc. and Shero didnt, early in the year. i’m sure ownership could have had input at trade deadline in order to give team best possible chance at cup run??

  20. Rock Ain't Dead says:

    Oh to be a fly on the wall during this one…

    Who says obviously more, 66 or Tomlin?

  21. TJA says:

    Thought the same thing, Jim. The boss got a huge scoop!!

  22. THEJROD says:

    No, not yet. But that doesn’t mean the Red Wing’s aren’t considering it. Hence why the Pens are keeping Bylsma, for the time being. If the Pens let him go, then the Pens lose bargaining power with the Red Wings, if the Wings are interested in Bylsma at all.

    This is a farfetched scheme, but it’s possible.

    If the Pens had their eyes on a free agent coach that they could hire this year – they would have fired Dan today. At worst, the Pens keep Bylsma for one year until Babcock’s contract runs out, or the pool of free agent coaches improves.

  23. Would Messrs Burkle and Lemieux explain why, if they really think that Coach Bylsma is such a great asset to the Penguins, they’re leaving it up to the next GM as to whether or not they should keep him?

  24. Eric says:

    My question is if the team was soft in training camp & it was because that was the roster they had….Didn’t Shero try to get Bylsma type players he wanted for his system? So doesn’t that make Bylsma just as guilty?

  25. Bill says:

    wow…dissatisfaction with Shero jumps off the screen

  26. Bull Shemmy says:

    Pretty awesome how the reporter most constructively critical of Penguins gets this exclusive interview. Care to share your thoughts on how this opportunity came about?

  27. casper in a-town says:

    One question I hope was asked of Messrs. Lemieux and Burkle — How much input did Coach Bylsma have in personnel decisions? Given that Coach Bylsma was “Ray Shero’s Guy,” I’m curious to know how much input Coach Bylsma had in both the draft, free agent signings and in-season acquisitions. One could speculate that because Coach Bylsma has been retained to this point, the answer is little, if any. However, if those decisions were made jointly, then the rationale for letting Ray Shero go would, or at least should, apply to Coach Bylsma.

  28. ludge says:

    Good question James T. It’d be nice if DK asked them that one.

  29. THEJROD says:

    Yeah coaches can’t be traded (i mentioned that in my first comment). Hence all of the contracural gymnastics that we’re talking about

  30. Justin says:

    haha. “(shrugs)”

  31. Michael Mallek says:

    Hearing complaints about why Mario/Burkle didn’t talk at press conference but talked to you. They own the team, they can do whatever they want.

  32. Robert says:

    Grit & speed (i.e. the 2009 team)

  33. Rock Ain't Dead says:

    This is great stuff DK. Trench warfare in the information age…

  34. Jason says:

    Great job Dejan. Pens fans are reading this is hopes of restoring “sanity”. Glad to see Burkle and Lemieux acknowledging the lack of character and grit. This team has had some great “grit” guys over the years from Cooke, Talbot, Errey, Loney, etc, but no one like that in this year’s playoff run…..at least any that dressed.

  35. BigGuy_27 says:

    Stop with the Babcock nonsense! Mike Babcock wants no part of the Sid and Troy show! Bylsma is the face of playoff failure and he is gone. Ray was the head of the fish and Dan is the body and his work the last 5 years stinks.

  36. Skip says:

    So their leading playoff goal scorer (Jokinen) would never be considered to be a gritty or speedy guy. But he was scoring. So are Mario and Burkle wanting to get rid of HIM?

    Maybe they’re referring to the 3rd and 4th lines as far as needing grit and speed.

  37. Bill says:

    I dunno…this really reads like they feel the roster is the issue and that DB is still a great coach with the proper roster

  38. THEJROD says:

    Rossi basically just said a coaches trade is a possibility on Pens Radio 24/7 with Savran

  39. Jim S. says:

    I’m sensing they want more “grit and character.” Anyone else picking up on that?

  40. nosemaj says:

    this interview gets more and more surreal as every new question and answer is added.

  41. Jandy says:

    obviously ;)

  42. Skip says:

    Aren’t Mario and Burkle capable of telling Shero the team needs to get grittier and speedier? Seems as though Shero could agree to go in that direction. So unless it’s a philosophical disagreement, why couldn’t they keep Shero on board and simply change the character and make-up of the team?

  43. Bill says:

    agree completely…fascinating

  44. Jim S. says:

    Haha!

  45. Skip says:

    Anyone else get the impression that Ron Burkle sounds like he wants to make hockey decisions?

  46. Milo Hamilton says:

    And the grocery store magnate seems to think that worse players are the way to get that done.

  47. Randy Cyphert says:

    Thx for the Despres question. The answer(s), to me, says they are not happy with how DB handled the young guys. Have to agree with a tweet you had about Toronto winning a cup before DB kept as HC. Luv this stuff. Would have better it they said this at press conf. though

  48. Pedro says:

    Despres is a proper player…must be kept

  49. WithBBQSauce says:

    Is this really an exclusive? Gene Collier of the P-G also posted an interview with these gentlemen.

    Regardless, I appreciate the breadth of the interview.

  50. Jim S. says:

    I feel like, at this point, DK could suggest almost anything and Burkle would agree 100%.

  51. Milo Hamilton says:

    I get the impression that Ron Burkle IS making hockey decisions.

  52. Skip says:

    Sadly, you’re right

  53. Randy Cyphert says:

    Wow Mrs. Burkle is a bit fired up. Wow. Sayinchanges should have been done last year. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  54. Skip says:

    And now we learn the truth. Bylsma said before the season he had been looking for quite some time for another coach to bring in for a different perspective. Apparently not exactly true. Ownership decided to add the additional coach (Jacque Martin).

  55. Justin says:

    man. trib’s probably getting so many site hits with all these refreshes. google analytics smiles on this site.

    absolutely fantastic stuff, Dejan. Thank you.

  56. Alex says:

    All I know is that when they keep mentioning grit and character, and speed, an image of Scott Hartnell paving the way for Claude Giroux to score in the 2011 series comes to mind.

    This has been a problem since then. But it is exciting to see that it is now being acknowledged.

  57. JohninOshkosh says:

    I was hoping grocer Ron Burkle would have turned to Dejan and said, “Are you an assassin ? You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.”

  58. Bill says:

    I dunno…I think its more like he thinks Pens have given up on younger players too quickly

  59. THEJROD says:

    this is awesome

  60. Nate83 says:

    and speed. Don’t forget speed and grit and character. One more thing I think they want speed, grit and character but not necessarily in that order.

  61. Don ga says:

    Mario has been the Pens savior but there is ownership responsibilty. Looks like their pstience is exhausted

  62. TK says:

    Are they saying they wish they hadn’t brought in Jacques Martin?

    Are they saying that bringing in Jacques Martin was Shero’s or Mario’s idea?

  63. WithBBQSauce says:

    Sure sounds like they think it was not a good move.

  64. Nate83 says:

    I actually wish Burkle was the grocery owner that is in the FX Fargo and DK was the character played by Billy Bob Thornton and Mario was the former football player that was the body guard for Burkle and crickets where released all over this press conference to make it just a little more wierder.

    Hopefully somebody, anybody is watching that show so it makes just a little bit of sense.

  65. THEJROD says:

    He said Ron and Mario wanted to bring someone else in (Martin), Shero agreed. Probably mario’s idea. so at the time, they wanted to. But using heinsight, Ron wishes he hadn’t.

  66. Skip says:

    Great show — I could see the Billy Bob character as either head coach or maybe Sid’s linemate

  67. Skip says:

    Uffda

  68. Skip says:

    And Bylsma told the world before the season it was his idea.

  69. casper in a-town says:

    Two tweets from DK I want to comment on that I’d like some additional explanation to:

    1. “There’s a greater chance of @MapleLeafs winning Cup —ever — than of Dan Bylsma staying as head coach. Not happening. Not worth discussing.” It appears from the Gene Collier quotes that Dan is still very much in play. What was it from your interview with them that made you feel that Coach Bylsma’s firing is “not worth discussing?” I trust your instincts, DK, otherwise I wouldn’t read your daily submissions. But explain this sentiment when it appears that there are mixed signals.

    2. “I trust these two men. Always have. And I strongly suspect once you read what they have to say, others will, too.” I read the interview. I didn’t walk away with trust. I walked away with more questions than answers, to be honest. What is the game plan?

  70. THEJROD says:

    Missed that one. That sucks

  71. Bill says:

    no, I think he meant he wished they made the change last year overall and not waited until now..not specifically Martin

  72. Jandy says:

    Burkle: Well, let me take that. Just because someone makes a clean sweep doesn’t make something right.

    wth does that mean?

  73. Nate83 says:

    I appreciate DK’s ability to fire back reasonable answers they could have given without coming across all knowing or telling them how to do their job. He didn’t give them softball questions or allow them to give canned answers but also didn’t belittle them or anger them with pushing them to answer the question. Kind of just nudged them into admitting mistakes where made.

  74. THEJROD says:

    ditto

  75. JohninOshkosh says:

    Very good show and very good post!

  76. Tasso Athans says:

    Great work again Dejan. If they regret not making move last year with Bylsma I don’t get why they didn’t do it tidsy

  77. Skip says:

    Trust is not the word I would use after reading that interview.

  78. Robert says:

    This makes perfect sense, objectively.

    “You do that carefully. You do that in a way that allows you to make either major or minor adjustments.”

    I also understand most fans aren’t objective. I think this change or series of changes is being done the right way.

    I’ll repeat what I said on this morning’s blog post. Bylsma leading the team to the 2nd seed and nearly the ECF isn’t an underachievement, especially when considering the lower half of the roster and 500+ man games lost to injury (the majority of those to key players). He deserves to be considered going forward. The next GM also has a right to hire who he thinks is the right coach for the job. Good day all.

  79. Randy Cyphert says:

    Casper, from my perspective, it is apparent from the Despres, Lovejoy comments, that They are not fond of putting the young guys in the mix so they could be evaluated. That is directly on DB. Mr. Burkle seems like a criminal who is just itching to vent all he can. you can hear the angst and frustration through the computer screen. Additionally he said in retrospect, he wish Martin was not brought in and changes should have been made last year. As suspected by many Shero tied himself to HCDB and it cost him his job. in part anyway.

  80. Nate83 says:

    This is done quickly without any time to think about exactly how to word something which makes it even more impressive. There isn’t much time to pick your words carefully and you have to be very quick on your feet. DK is very good at this. I notice it during his posted video’s when he ask questions as well.

    I know how many time a type something to post and then change it after reading it because it came accross differently then I intended and sometimes I still get it wrong after the edit.

  81. Ben says:

    I don’t like a reporter tweeting to the world that he trusts the people he covers. People lie to reporters every day. That’s like a political reporter tweeting that he trusts the officeholders he/she covers. I greatly appreciate Dejan’s hustle, but that tweet gives me pause about his objectivity.

  82. Randy Cyphert says:

    es. And Ray made a strong argument for what he wanted to do, for the continuity he wanted, for extending the contracts, all the stuff you know about. I think the piece that was added, really by Mario, and that was embraced by Ray was to bring the other coach in and change the ability to adapt to situations. And if you look back at that today, in some ways, I wish we hadn’t made that bet. Because that’s another year. So if we’re disappointed, it’s that we lost a year to the change that we should have made already.- Ron Burkle

  83. Robert says:

    Ok, one last thought. As most sports fans know, if the team puts large amounts of money into certain players, that often dictates how much opportunity younger players receive. The coaches hands, in that situation are usually tied. I think that perspective can be applied to the Despres, Bortuzzo, Scuderi fiasco. Good Day again. ;-)

  84. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m inclined to not like David Morehouse for reasons I’m not allowed to get into here. And the more I read I’m happy to say he’s not letting me down. What a clown.

  85. Milo Hamilton says:

    He’s our coach, but he can leave whenever he wants.

  86. Jordan says:

    Dejan why didnt you tell Morehouse to shut up. Interview went straight down hill when he started talking

  87. Jim S. says:

    At least speed is quanfiable.

  88. Bill says:

    yeah not sure I understand why he got all riled up…DK was not making a personal attack…just doing his job.

  89. Milo Hamilton says:

    Wonder if he’s expecting a raise for his impassioned defense of his bosses.

  90. Nate83 says:

    Well that would have been odd to fire Shero the same year he won GM of the year.

  91. hockeymonster says:

    He means there are things behind the scenes we’ll never hear about. Dropping guillotine slowly in this situation is probably his preferred method.

  92. Nate83 says:

    It’s his job to defend Mario and Burkle and protect them. If Morehouse doesn’t speak up at that point as soon as DK walks out of the room Burkle and Mario look at Morehouse and say what the heck. Your suppose to keep the hounds away when they attack. I’m not saying DK attacked. I thought the question was legitimate and DK even said it’s a question that has to be asked. I’m just saying Morehouse is simply doing his job.

  93. THEJROD says:

    WOW – what a question about keeping Dan away from Washington and Carolina…they obviously didn’t appreciate getting asked that one…. ballsy question from DK. that kind of stuff can affect your relationship with two very powerful people. Obviously the relationship is good, or else this convo would never have happened.

  94. THEJROD says:

    Its good to hear it straight from their mouth though…I’m glad they’re not that under-handed.

  95. Jim S. says:

    So, they want Bylsma to stay if the new GM – whoever that might be – wants him to stay. But, if he gets a job offer tomorrow, they won’t hold him back? What kind of logic is that? If he’s a guy you want to keep, and he’s under contract to you and being paid, you just tell other teams to go ahead and make him an offer and you can have him? That’s taking being nice guys to a whole new level, isn’t it?

  96. RJ327 says:

    Coach trades arent allowed anymore, it would be a buyout.

  97. Skip says:

    I could also say the GM deserves great credit for putting together a roster that was a 2nd seed and almost made it to the ECF, while having to deal with injuries and a drop in the salary cap.

    I haven’t heard Mario or Burkle say they are satisfied with the job Bylsma did with an inferior roster. I think they want him gone — they’re just going to let the new GM do it.

  98. hockeymonster says:

    +++

  99. JohninOshkosh says:

    With you there, Skip.

  100. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I sense a genuineness from Burkle and Lemieux, i.e. I think they want to do right by the fans of the team. That doesn’t mean I completely trust their leadership after reading this interview. I don’t sense they have a clear direction in mind for the franchise, other than more speed, grit and toughness. I never get a sense of genuineness from Nutting, but I think he conveys his plan for the franchise more effectively than Burkle and Lemieux. Say what you will about Nutting, but he’s an excellent interview.

  101. Jim S. says:

    I could almost hear him sliding his chair up next to the 3 of them.

  102. CraiginVA says:

    Sorry, maybe I heard it/read it wrong, but almost every answer pointed to a problem with the coach, not the GM. I have no problem letting Shero go, but it sure sounded like more of the problem was the coach on the ice rather than the GM in the box upstairs. Even going back to last year and beyond.

  103. Bill says:

    just fascinating stuff

  104. J Walter Weatherman says:

    And yes, this is proof that all Pittsburgh sports discussions lead to Nutting. Pun intended.

  105. Bill says:

    I read it the complete opposite: with the exception of not giving younger guys more of a chance, rest was on the GM

  106. Harrisburg Hal says:

    I’ll stay on and and wait for the tennis part…..

  107. JohninOshkosh says:

    Left side of mouth-meet right side of mouth.

  108. Mike A says:

    Great job getting Burkle to debunk the nonsensical narrative that Bylsma brought Martin in. DB clearly emasculated here and on his way out, no that there was any doubt.

    Fleury has to go also. Shero’s firing was 5 years in the making. This status quo country club mentality has to be swept out. 1 average year after 4 playoff chokes shouldn’t be cause for continuing to indulge players that also have been responsible for playoff flops. Failure doesn’t just reside with GM & coach.

  109. There was one other session, with the other paper in town. I was the only reporter in this session. All of the above material is original and exclusive to the Trib.

  110. Skip says:

    I don’t know what you’re reasons are, but I have my own reasons for believing he is a part of the problem, not the solution. He is indeed a clown, to put it mildly.

  111. Nate83 says:

    I’m not sure any of that was conveyed how Burkle and Mario wanted it to be. The question caught them off guard. I believe them when they say the only reason they are not firing Bylsma is because they want the new GM to make that decision. I don’t think their intention is to let him leave before that evaluation is complete.

  112. There was one other session, with the other paper in town. I was the only reporter in this session you see above. All of the above material is original and exclusive to the Trib.

  113. Maybe someone else here can help you with the difference between columnist and beat guy.

  114. Mike A says:

    Tennis? Burkle is a regular in Djoker’s entourage at major tournaments. The Serbian connection for DK!

    DK: Oooh, you’re good.

  115. Sean says:

    Excellent work on this interview. IMO the 3rd and 4th lines are where Shero ultimately failed. He’s made some great personnel moves, but the past few years he fell into the rent-a-player trap. Your bottom 6 forwards are invariably going to become too expensive to keep in their roles, which is why there needs to be a pipeline to groom new players to replace the departed ones. There should be a lot of churn on those lines, and it should be somewhat homegrown churn. When Jordan Staal outgrew his position, there really should have been another Jordan Staal in the farm system waiting to take his place. Shero unfortunately traded all the facilities to build that pipeline up away to bring in current talent for short spans as role players.

  116. Jim S. says:

    I thought they laid most everything at the feet of Shero as well.

  117. Nate83 says:

    That assumes that personal decisions are made by the coach. I’m not sure what the situation is with the Penguins. I’m sure it’s different with every team. I’m pretty confident Shero has a say on if Scuderi plays or not. Being in the first year of a 3 year contract that was his decision would lead one to say this guy has to play. Ditto on Adams. No GM sits the 2 guys they decided to sign during the offseason when another guy they signed is out for the year in Dupuis and another misses a large portion of the year in Letang. 4 signing and little to show isn’t a good resume builder.

  118. THEJROD says:

    I disagree with that interpretation…

    they were saying IF they fired him, he’d get a job tomorrow (they were giving DB a compliment on his coaching abilities).

    For the record, no one can offer another coach a job while they’re under contract. (but you can talk to the owners about buying out their contract)

    My opinion is that they know that other teams think DB is a good coach. And they think hes a good coach too. So why let him walk away for nothing? He’s an asset.

  119. Gary says:

    Fleury is fine, as evidenced by his playoff stats from this year. Other options out there for goaltending are unproven and just as, if not moreso, risky than keeping Flower. Whether people want to admit or not, the Goalie is a products of the teams play in front of him for the most part. Fleury had 3 bad playoff years out of the past 5 but the teams in front him where a mess defensively. Smartest thing to do is reup him for 3-4 years and then allow Tristan Jarry to work his way up as the successor as the next long term netminder for this franchise.

  120. cherokee23 says:

    I think that’s a great interview, DK!

  121. Jim S. says:

    I hope not, because the message they should be sending to other teams, if indeed they are ok with the coach staying pending a review by the new GM, is that you’ll know our coach is available to you when he becomes our former coach.

  122. Thundercrack says:

    “Nothing that they’ve done would lead you to believe they’d keep someone on to not pay them.”

    That from Moorehouse. But I don’t understand it. If they keep Bylsma on they have to pay him. Bylsma is going to get paid if he stays or if he’s fired (and doesn’t get another job) He has a contract.

    (apologies if someone else already brought this up)

  123. Ellie says:

    LOL! Great observation/question.

  124. CraiginVA says:

    Maybe. Have to read it again after the dust settles. Certainly some blame/responsibility to go around, though.

  125. pghgolfgirl says:

    So, were you and Sean Collier the only 2 journalists to get to interview the owners? You seem to have much more info. Fascinating stuff. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Great job.

  126. CE says:

    great work, DK. question: what is your sense re: how bought-in the owners were on Shero’s decision to mortgage the future in the deadline deals? In hindsight it’s easy to question those moves, but I wonder if he deserves all the blame.

  127. Milo Hamilton says:

    You know what ? Paul Steigerwald is a clown too. That’s the problem down there, too many clowns.

  128. Jim S. says:

    Immediately after the comment about “If Dan was fired, he’d find a job tomorrow” Dejan said, “So you wouldn’t keep him from another opportunity if it came?” That implies to me that they are not holding him back as of now, while he’s under contract. If he’s fired, they can’t hold him back.

    But, they are also saying they are comfortable with him staying as coach, if the new GM wants him to stay.

    I can’t reconcile those 2 things.

  129. Jim S. says:

    If you trust the coach, he makes lineup and in-game decisions. The GM makes roster decisions, with input from a coach he trusts.

    Isn’t that how it is supposed to be?

  130. Pensboy says:

    “It’s ultimately our decision how much we spend, but we all sat down and said, look, you guys have a plan for the team you want to have in five years, we want to step it up. We don’t want to wait five years. I’ve got Crosby now. I’ve got Malkin now. I don’t think a five-year plan makes sense.”

    Here is where everything went off the rails. The early success disrupted the plan to build around Crosby and Malkin with draftees and/or FAs. Shero was basically told “win now and trade tomorrow for today”. It’s like the kid who eats all the candy today and then is mad he doesn’t have any tomorrow.

  131. Bob says:

    Dejan, Did the Burkle/Mario request you for the exclusive sit down? Can you get into the mechanics of how the interview came about?

    Great job on the questions that were asked.

  132. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Wow…Well done DK!

  133. CraiginVA says:

    Makes sense. Maybe when the behind-the-scenes stuff comes out, it will make even more sense. I am reminded that these kinds of discussions were frequent with the Pirates not too long ago (the GM dictating who plays, etc.). I don’t know how true that all was, but Huntington still has a job…

  134. Jim S. says:

    Great interview, DK.

    Personally, if it were me, the interview might have bogged down at the start as I asked Mario to autograph a few things.

    It’s a pretty cool world you operate in.

  135. WithBBQSauce says:

    Got it. Thank you for the clarification.

    Again, good interview.

  136. pghgolfgirl says:

    Whoops! “Gene” Collier, not “Sean”. My bad.

  137. irishjim says:

    Great work and thanks for giving us so much insight on an issue most of us would have no understanding of otherwise.

  138. Bill says:

    absolutely

  139. Jim S. says:

    I believe Huntington has said that he doesn’t tell Hurdle who to play.

    But, their jobs crossover a bit. Clint has said he tells Huntington what he wants in the way of upgrades, and I’m sure Huntington talks about player performance with him. If the guys have a good relationship, I would think they are a good sounding board for one another.

  140. SlappyD says:

    I am pretty sure Detroit is grooming their AHL GM to take over for when Babcock leaves, so I don’t think the Red Wings will have interest in Bylsma

  141. Nate83 says:

    I’m not convince it works like that on everyteam in any sport. Free agent pick ups and money don’t allow GM’s to stay out of the equation for who plays. How many times do you hear that there are 4 million reasons why so and so is playing. I know people say that as a joke but I think there is some truth to that sometimes. You can’t play Despres and other young defenseman if you are told Scuderi and Adams are never to be healthy scratches.

  142. Wild Bill says:

    DK, I know you’d say you were just doing your job on this, but thanks!

    Bylsma’s departure is a formality, it seems. Any new gm will want to name a coach he wants to work with. You’d think the number of interested gm candidates would be many, and it shouldn’t take too long to find one that Mario and Ron B. like.

  143. Jason says:

    The context of that question was about the Pens not firing Bylsma (keeping him on) in hopes he sees the writing on the wall and resigns. If he resigns, they don’t have to pay him.

  144. karen balas says:

    I would love to see Bill Guerin as our head coach! that would be awesome!

  145. Bill says:

    voted on before Bruins humiliation

  146. Milo Hamilton says:

    The Penguins have signed Josh Archibald to a three year contract. I’m guessing he brings oodles of grit & character.

  147. david v. ogurkis says:

    I kept reading and things became more vague .talk about buzz words and avoiding the question .thanks for trying .

  148. Dave G says:

    It seems to me that the owners feel that perhaps Bylsma would have had more success had Shero provided him with better players on the ice. They admitted that the Penguins would be better served with youth and grit and speed rather than age.

    At the trade deadlines, Shero repeatedly went after the older, past-their-prime has-beens. Trying to pair these guys with a thoroughbred like Sid often looked like throwing a school bus into a NASCAR race and trying to make it work.

    Also, having key role players is intricate to a championship squad, and the Pens are severely lacking in this department. When the Pens won their last cup, you just knew that they were going all the way. It’s an innate feeling that you get when you know all of the pieces of the team fit together. The Pens haven’t been the same since then. Shero did a poor job by replacing the role players from the championship team with lesser talent.

    If you are truly a deep team, then when Sid and Geno draw the other team’s primary coverage it should create opportunity down the ladder for the other lines to succeed. However, there is not enough talent on the Pens 3rd or 4th lines to take advantage of the situation. Shero never really assembled the secondary core of talent that tips the scales toward real contention.

    Sid’s supporting cast gets older and older each year. These guys are bound to lose a step or two along the way. Sid needs youth around him while he is in his prime.

    So when you consider Bylsma, and where he stands, first consider he won a cup when all of the pieces were there. Once the pieces began to disappear, so did the Pens in the early rounds.

    Will the new GM have faith that Bylsma can succeed given the right supporting cast? And how in the world is this new GM going to be successful when the Pens are about to lose a slew of free agents and still be stuck with some painfully overloaded contracts?

  149. Ellie says:

    Second.

    Lots of words, not many answers.

  150. Tim Traynor says:

    As of this minute coaches cannot be traded, but that is expected to change in the gm meeting following the Stanley cup final this year. Its one of the possible reasons the Pens are holding on toBylsma and the other coaches’ rights

  151. Ben says:

    Fair enough, re columnist position. Touche’. I’ll restate it this way: I don’t believe those guys are telling you the truth. Others on the forum agree. Bunch of double-talk by all three of them. Bylsma is gone. We all know that.

  152. Tim Traynor says:

    I am having trouble thinking of a better interview pertaining to current issues happening in Pittsburgh sports than this one in the last 20 years or so. Very good questions and what looks to be honest answers…

  153. Skip says:

    Had to chuckle listening to Hockey Night in Canada Radio just after 5pm Eastern Time. The hosts (can’t recall their names) were interviewing Elliotte Friedman and Friedman referenced just having read the transcript of DK’s interview with Burkle and Mario.

    First of all, Friedman admitted he didn’t exactly know who DK is, and said he didn’t want to try to pronounce his name. At that point, one of the hosts jumped in acting like he knows all about DK, but proceeded to butcher DK’s name. Then he doubled down by saying DK was the
    Pens beat writer at the Trib before Rossi. Finally, the host said DK is known to have the best relationship with Crosby of all the writers in Pittsburgh.

  154. hockeymonster says:

    Mr. Burkle forgot to mention Brian Strait. Wouldn’t be too worried about Letestu and lovejoy.

  155. cobra39 says:

    Wow. A peak behind the curtain. The comments about Letestu, Lovejoy and Despres were amazing.

  156. cobra39 says:

    Mario just issued a press release: The team will no longer be named Penguins.

    Next year, it’s the Pittsburgh Grit ‘n Character.

  157. BillyBaduka says:

    Agreed on where it went wrong

  158. BillyBaduka says:

    and Speed

  159. KING says:

    Trading Crosby is the only thing that can elevate the franchise. He’s in his prime 26 & can bring in 3-4 quality players. Can ascend Malkin to 1 center, grab Kesler 2, & Sutter 3. The Penguins won’t win another Cup as long as Sid Crosby is still around. They have spent last 4-5 years trying to find Sid a winger. Trading away plenty of 1st & 2nd rd picks. Nothing has worked.They have burned the candle at both ends. Now they are capped out & no young forwards to rise to Top 6. Trading Crosby only way out of the situation. KING

  160. Cobra39 says:

    #GritAndCharacter

    Love when DK does these types of interviews that actually make ME uncomfortable when certain questions are asked.

  161. BillyBaduka says:

    Agreed.

  162. Ron Meyers says:

    Spot on as usual Dejan really love how u arent afraid to ask the tough questions. Obviously your are highly respected by the Pens front office by obtaining this sit down. I still dont have a clue in where they are going with this but great interview anyway.

  163. pauldia says:

    I wish you would have asked about the power play being a combined 1 for 36 in the last two losing series (Boston,and NY),and if they felt Dan’s lack of adjustments or holding a practice in between to make changes is a reflection on his coaching?

  164. Eric Bowser says:

    This my friends is why when Dejan mentors young journalists, he tells them, you are a news reporter first not some sports writer. You need to be able to think on your feet quickly and adjust because when you think you are heading to one thing, another happens.

    Who thought they were walking in CEC today at 11:30 AM and the Morehouse was going to say Bylsma was being retained? Probably no one.

    Solid job DK.

  165. hockeymonster says:

    Ok couldn’t help myself and came up with list of Dmen we should look at for depth. And as we know the UFA market for Dmen is slim so it looks like Nisky and Orpik will have their pick of offers. So I believe looking at Anton Belov, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Mike Kostka for stability and depth is a good idea. I think Belov in particular would be a Bill James approved move. Fayne is solid for depth in case you want Harrington or Dumoulin to marinate in WB some more. Nikitin is pricier but worth kickin the tires on and Kostka is 28 but has been void of an opportunity up until this past season. Was stuck behind Chicago’s depth but asserted himself adequately in tampa this season. Believe if given the opportunity could fill depth needs well.

    Sorry Nisky, you know i love your game but 4.5M is my max. And you guys know how i feel about orpik so we’ll see how that shakes out. Nikitin could kind of be a cheaper replacement for nisky but for cap purposes I think I’d look to sign Belov as a top 4-5 regular and Fayne for top 6. If that can’t be done I’d explore the Nikitin and Kostka route.

    So conceivably this could be our squad:

    kuni-sid-evil stewie
    super duper-geno-Vrbata(2.5-3M)
    raymond/pouliot(1.5-2M)-Sutter-BB
    winnik-goc-payerl/adams

    Maatta-Letang
    Belov-Fayne/Nisky
    Piece-Bortuzzo
    Despres-Fayne/harrinton/dumoulin

    Doable, competitive, solid, physical, hard to play against, i dare you to get in sid’s grill. Double dare you.

  166. kaykinn says:

    Think Roberts, Guerin types for character and grit, Hossa types for speed and a harder, faster bottom six group. They don’t need goons but they do need some toughness.

  167. Eric Bowser says:

    hate to break the news… Belov went back to the KHL and signed a multi-year deal.

    I’m still breaking down how I’d want the deal to be fixed this summer…. it will be drastic.

  168. That’s really cool, Eric. Thanks. And yeah, per your guess, everything was completely spontaneous. Not one question or concept was scripted. (Which also explains why it’s somewhat embarrassingly all over the place.)

  169. In fairness, they tried to call me. I didn’t pick up. I only do Winnipeg radio in Canada.

  170. Maybe later. Now’s not the time. But thanks.

  171. hockeymonster says:

    Well crap. Just looked it up and looks like he was bitchin bout the coach. So who knows what that’s all about…I would have geno call him up to see whats what…those khl deals dont always mean much.

  172. hockeymonster says:

    I’m proud to be on your blog DK.

  173. george staniszewski says:

    remember last year after the bruins crushed us and the decision by shero was made to keep his life partner disco dan?he clearly stated that he wanted to have an ‘entertaining hockey team’…..in the words of russell crowe: are you not entertained?……notice didn’t say he wanted to bring a championship here.

  174. Paul R. Peterson says:

    I hear Lemieux and Burkle talk about grit, character and speed. I would add brains and make it first.
    How do James N. and Matt N. take those two stupid penalities with the one by Matt N. leading
    to the go ahead and winning goal. Another quality for team members to have is excellent passing skills.
    Finally, Had the Pens defeated the Rangers they would go against the Canadians and would have a good
    chance to get to the SC Finals.

  175. Gary says:

    Great job DK! Tremendous insight…

    As a lifetime Penguins fan I have tons of faith in Mr. Lemieux. I trust that he will always do what’s best for the Penguins, the city I love and it’s tremendous fan base.

    I, for one, am praying that when all the smoke clears…that Mike Babcock is Mario’s new man in charge. I understand he is under contract for 1 more year with the Wings. But, there has to be something bigger going on behind the scenes!

    Let’s go Pens!

  176. hockeymonster says:

    So do we have consensus on what pens are up to? Aren’t the events that can take place after cup finals most likely impetus for head scratching this afternoon?

  177. Sarah says:

    You know the word character did come a few times? Aimed at Neal maybe?

  178. Sarah says:

    And really I cannot get my arms around this.
    The only reason I can think to not sweep Bylsma out w Shero is if the Pens are trying to get some others assets from a team that wants him …..

    Bylsma and Adams for Babcock and Datsyuk!!!

    But I dream…..

  179. Arriba Wilver says:

    I agree.

    I like it, too. Wasn’t going to watch it, but the previews were intriguing, and I’m glad I did. Lots of good acting, too.

  180. Arriba Wilver says:

    I thought it meant don’t throw the baby out with the bath water just to feel good..That came out a little weird, but you know what I mean.

  181. Mitch says:

    I wonder if trading Letang to Edmonton has been thought of? They crave a d man like him, and in return could give up that 3rd overall pick (who is probably going to be one of the skilled fast forwards like Bennett or Reinhart) and one of their other young prospects that they could part with (yakupov?)

  182. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I will say this for the ownership’s move today. They don’t appear to be affected greatly by PR. The popular move among the fan base was to dismiss Bylsma, so they’re risking some good will with the fans by having this decision delayed.

    In particular, I don’t think Lemieux’s image has been improved by this process (the decision or DK’s interview). He didn’t come across as someone who had strong opinions about the next move. His responses were mostly agreements with statements by DK or Burkle. Mario, you’re allowed to have your own opinions and express them. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think he’s destroyed his image by any means, and that would be almost impossible for him to do with the good will he’s built up. Maybe Lemieux and Burkle have a grand plan for the direction of the franchise, other than getting grit and speed, but I didn’t get a strong sense of that plan in the interview.

    Nice job though DK. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have doing that interview and you didn’t disappoint. Very good questions, even if you didn’t get great responses. Have to be realistic as a fan though; there’s only so much you can cover in 30 minutes. I’m interested to see how things develop over the next couple of months. This is a pivotal point in the franchise’s history.

  183. J Walter Weatherman says:

    I talked about this on other message boards ad nauseam. It seems almost too logical, given the amount of young forwards they have. I fear that Letang’s health condition combined with his contract makes him virtually untradeable.

  184. hockeymonster says:

    I think they want to trade coaches. Rules are made to be broken. Or at least changed on golf courses in boca…After finals. Shhh…dont tell anyone.

  185. hockeymonster says:

    Just keep thinking about pens flippin a pick from wash to Det for Babs. Oops, did i say that out loud?

  186. There’s been speculation that Mario might ultimately become the GM, unlikely as that may well sound, and one wonders if that will happen and whether he’d be any more successful than Ray Sharp or any other Pens recent GM.

  187. Gary says:

    Bylsma for Babcock would be a stroke of genius for this ownership group. Not sure it would be that simple and obviously it isn’t “legal” per NHL rules but it can be worked out behind the scenes for sure. Nothing else really makes sense to me other than something like that.

  188. Jandy says:

    THAT one p&ssed me off

  189. Jandy says:

    Somehow I get the feeling that Mario has very strong opinions, he just keeps them to himself.

  190. Jandy says:

    I saw your line-up for the next roster, Monster Mash. Have you applied for a scout job yet?

  191. Jandy says:

    Obviously ;)

  192. Thundercrack says:

    Ahhh…..you went all ‘Larry King’ on them.

    :-)

  193. Benj says:

    Compare this to a similar sit down that occurred today with another columnist in town and you will see why Dejan is the cream of the crop. Thorough consise questions that got to specifics of what the fans want to know (Crosby, Letang Despres, plan?). He hit the points while making Mario/Burkle both comfortable enough to open up and uneasy enough to bristle at the tough questions (and clearly piss off Morehouse) Brilliant.

  194. DJ says:

    DK: Just read the exclusive interview and I’m going to post this without reading all of the posts that precede mine because I have a lot on my mind.

    1. First off, excellent interview. You really did a great job and should be very proud you got this exclusive. Says a lot about your stature in the sportswriter community. Bravo.

    2. Ron Burkle is a VERY sharp guy and surprisingly knowledgeable and passionate about hockey. Love that Ron is intimately involved in our team, not just some distant owner passing time on the way to his next round at Augusta. Kind of guy I’d love to hang with and throw back a beer or two for an evening.

    3. Mario is class personified. VERY proud he’s a Pittsburgher.

    4. David Morehouse is the gentleman who urged ownership to go with “interim” status for Bylsma. Has his fingerprints all over it and comes across loud and clear based upon WHEN he spoke up during the interview and THE TOPIC. Although never accused, he came out of the gate with feigned indignation towards the questioner — you — for having the temerity to challenge the character of Mario and Ron. Of course, you weren’t doing that at all, but hey, might as well toss in a little diversion (PR tactic) to throw you off the scent trail. I will add here that I like David, but sometimes it’s best to set aside the PR hat (particularly a god forsaken Bylsma fedora) and just let the dialogue play out rather than trying to massage the message.

    5. Would LOVE to hear from Mario and Ron more often. I know, not their style, but they are eloquent in a no nonsense way, which in itself is refreshing. No need for “handlers” or advance men.

  195. hockeymonster says:

    Would be humbled with the opportunity.

  196. Arriba Wilver says:

    That was my guess, but it has to be larger one would think.

  197. Milo Hamilton says:

    1st period score:

    Former Flyers 3
    Ducks 0

  198. Milo Hamilton says:

    Kings goals by Williams, Carter & Richards. Hilarious.

  199. Spags says:

    Great interview DK.

    My question is do you see Morehouse wanting to take a more active role in player personnel decisions? He’s coming off that way, and I think it would be scary to have him blending player and brand decisions together.

  200. Jefferson St. Joe says:

    Is Bylsma free to seek a new job while he is in limbo?

  201. DJ says:

    “Tolerate” David might be more accurate.

    Don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression.

  202. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sifting through the rubble of today I can’t help but think of Rob Rossi, Bob McKenzie & Elliotte Friedman. These guys reported that Bylsma had been fired or was about to be. Three guys that don’t get that kind of stuff wrong. And I don’t think they got it wrong here either. Something changed. I don’t know who changed it or why it changed, but it did. These guys didn’t deserve that kind of annoyment, especially Rossi on his birthday. And Morehouse embarrassing him at the presser was completely unprofessional (you can’t believe everything you read on twitter). I really wonder what went on here.

  203. DJ says:

    What’s the problem?

    We all butcher DK’s name.

  204. hockeymonster says:

    Scott Neidermeyer may find himself on the interview circuit sooner than he hoped.

  205. Jandy says:

    Very good, thoughtful points, Milo.
    If you remember, Dejan himself also said Bylsma was gone….then like you said, something changed.

  206. hockeymonster says:

    Ya it definitely came off as unnecessary. TSN doesn’t get taken on too many rides. Chances are it had something to with what is or isn’t possible after cup finals regarding trading coaches. Everything came off as unusual cuz pens probably are trying to do something unusual. Combine possibility that coaching candidates may not be available till june and maybe they decided to hold their cards for now. But there were some head scratchers today.

  207. Jandy says:

    lol

  208. hockeymonster says:

    I thought DK only said that Shero’s job wasn’t safe?

  209. Jandy says:

    Monster Mash?

    I don’t believe so, as he is still under contract

  210. hockeymonster says:

    In David’s defense he hasn’t had much practice at the press conference thing. It’s not like we’re calgary….

  211. DJ says:

    Morehouse came up with the idea this morning.

    And then sold it before the presser.

  212. DJ says:

    And he certainly looked the part, HM.

  213. Jandy says:

    Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I had the impression he said DB was gone. I’d have to go back and look but I’m too tired right now lol

  214. hockeymonster says:

    Not technically. I think entire coaching staff can go a looonnng cruise and check back after finals.

  215. Milo Hamilton says:

    If I remember correctly, the only other time Bruce Boudreau got this far in the playoffs Game 7 looked much like this.

  216. Jandy says:

    indeed

  217. Milo Hamilton says:

    He’s really good at changing press conferences seconds before they happen.

  218. hockeymonster says:

    We should’ve hired Burke to stand in…that…would’ve been priceless.

  219. Colin Dunlap, for one, still blindly trusts Mario. And yet, one wonders if Mario even trusts himself anymore after this.

  220. DJ says:

    There’s going to be an Anaheim–San Jose series after this one.

    Goes seven games and they both lose.

  221. Bizrow says:

    But from what I’ve read here, the Lunatic Nation stayed pretty much together, civil with each other and pretty much solid.

    Kudos to all the Trib folks, best damn paper in the burgh.

    Dan Blysma is a chip, lets see what happens

  222. J Walter Weatherman says:

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  223. Jandy says:

    :snicker:

  224. Jandy says:

    smh

  225. hockeymonster says:

    Mario, sidney, MJ and the Great one all learned how to play the game of not saying anything too interesting. Their bank accounts thank them for it.

  226. Bizrow says:

    Lets let things settle down

    Yeah, pretty much chaos today

    But we still have a pretty good team

  227. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pierre McGuire, “I really respect one of the owners there who I know very well.”

  228. Dadtackular says:

    I understand speed. I understand character. What is grit? (we must have a different word for that where i’m from)

  229. Jandy says:

    wow 5-0 Kings now.

  230. Rick says:

    My guess is they decided they wanted to control the message instead of allowing the media to run the show. You know like a clear act of defiance

  231. Jandy says:

    from yesterday’s blog post:

    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.

    ANd from later yesterday:
    I’ll repeat from that special blog entry here yesterday that Dan Bylsma’s as good as gone, and that Ray Shero also is in serious trouble.

  232. Arriba Wilver says:

    No, he said Bylsma was as good as gone and Shero wasn’t safe.

  233. Bizrow says:

    Intangibles? Many things

  234. Bizrow says:

    I’m amazed, Jandy, I can’t watch hockey right now,

  235. Bizrow says:

    Its like watching Sid Bream again ;-)

  236. Jandy says:

    hubby actually turned it on, Biz. I was surprised.

  237. Jandy says:

    LOL! like a recurring nightmare?

  238. hockeymonster says:

    :)

  239. Jandy says:

    to me, grit is not shying away from taking a hit, and playing the puck out of danger.
    it’s blocking pucks to help your goalie.
    it’s sticking up for your team mates.
    stuff like that.

  240. Bizrow says:

    You got a winner there, Jandy ;-)

  241. Jason says:

    The notion that a GM is going to have to report to David Morehouse is the scariest thing coming out of all these Penguins changes. This guy is seriously going to be involved in hockey decisions?

    unreal.

  242. Jandy says:

    Believe me, Biz, I am truly blessed :)

  243. Jandy says:

    somehow I highly doubt he will be involved in operations.

  244. Jandy says:

    Time for some ZZzZzz’s…this has been quite a trying day! Night everyone :)

  245. Bizrow says:

    And we are too for having you with us

  246. Eric Bowser says:

    Don’t want to brag.. well, yes I do… lol

    here’s what I wrote on 9/11/13 about the hot seat for Shero…

    http://pittsburghfancentral.blogspot.com/2013/09/season-of-validation.html

  247. jeffinplano says:

    Wow! Nice interview and scoop Dejan!

    I only got about halfway through the posts when it became obvious that what imo was the most enlightening answer has been ignored (I’ll have to paraphrase cause I can’t get my copy/paste to work on my phone):

    Burkle: spending to the cap just because it’s there.

    This says it all to me! Shero spent just to spend imo. Scuderi’s contract is a prime example. You might even throw in Letang’s deal (personally I don’t have a problem with that deal…). I think Scuderi could have been gotten for less $s and/or shorter term. But Shero found it necessary to sign Scuderi to a bloated deal ($s, term or both) because he could. Not because it necessarily made good hockey sense.

    For those types of decisions Shero had to go.

    Now, not playing the young talent? That’s on the coach…

  248. Bill Eggert says:

    Great interview, Dejan! Good, tough questions that helped to clear much of the air on the current situation. Hopefully their GM search will pay off with major improvements next season…

  249. Skip says:

    Milo – on the HNiC interview Friedman did this afternoon, he accepted responsibility for getting the story wrong. And he seems pretty upset with himself about it.

    But he also made it clear that The Pens decided to fire Bylsma, and then somebody with the team changed their mind. He said he couldn’t prove that, but he believed that to be the case.

    More evidence that Mario and Burkle, plus Morehouse, aren’t exactly steering with a steady hand. I appreciate that they saved this franchise for Pittsburgh, but their handling of this has been poor.

  250. DJ says:

    Morehouse: Reacting systematically rather than emotionally.

    Code for: “I came up with the idea to do this in a two-step process and they agreed.”

  251. Ellie says:

    Smh.

    They either have a grand plan the likes of which none of us can comprehend … or no blessed idea whatsoever of what they’re doing.

    Smfh.

  252. Sarcastic Sword says:

    That’s silly. A major nhl radio outlet calls you and you ignore them on a historic day in this franchise cause youre staying true to Winnipeg? Wow

  253. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Great points. Sounds like the brain trust didn’t want to announce exactly what was reported by every credible news source so they went with Shero out / new GM to decide fate of coaches.

    Such b.s. – I assure you all GM candidates will be told in interviews that Bylsma getting fired is your first order of business.

    Pens control the message is something this blog adheres to – by switching this up, they retain control.

    Pens 1
    Media 0

  254. Sarcastic Sword says:

    The interview was awesome – congrats Mr DK.

    Follow-up questions were spot on in what had to be a stressful room.

    I didn’t come away with trust or an understanding of their management blueprint as it relates to Lemieux and Burkle.

    To compare…we all know what we are getting with the Pirates…everything they do is driven by the almighty dollar….look no further than Polanco’s stats this season and the narrative that he needs more seasoning and that Super 2 status is garbage.

    I dont have a feel at all for what Lemieux / Burkle plan on doing or what their core beliefs are as they pertain to steering this franchise into a new era.

  255. Ralph Schwartz says:

    I like what Gene Collier wrote in his exclusive interview with Burkle and Lemeiux: getting an interview with 66 is like seeing a raccoon in the daytime — you know something’s wrong.

  256. Arriba Wilver says:

    Gene’s funny. Almost surprised they let him, but probably thought it was better than Cook. :-)

  257. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Cook knows zero about hockey – had to be Collier.

  258. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Of course the two sit-down interviews of Lemieux/Burkle with Mr Collier and Mr Kovacevic were done at the behest of the Pgh Penguins. If those guys didnt want to hold court, this wouldn’t have happened.

    They didn’t want to take questions from all media at the press conference but wanted their point of view out there so they came up with the private sit-downs with the two newspapers in town and allowed any and all questions while Morehouse waited to pounce on any questions he deemed to be unfair – which did happen in response to a very fair question.

    Again, they are controlling the message or in this case, the parameters of how they are conveying the message.

 
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