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On Ulf, Niskanen, Jokinen and other Penguins news

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

All kinds of news on the Penguins’ front today, as reported by beat man Josh Yohe, but at the same time it’s all news in the making rather than news made.

It’s good to hear that Ulf Samuelsson is still in the coaching mix. Nothing at all has changed there. He’s been the only rational choice all along within the context of the field at hand. It’s not so good — never good, actually — to hear mention of Ron Wilson or any other retread.

Sure sounds, also, like Matt Niskanen and Jussi Jokinen are goners. The latter was expected, the former not as much. I have nothing positive to say about losing Niskanen for no return. That’s criminal mismanagement of assets, though it obviously would fall far more on Ray Shero than Jim Rutherford.

And trading the first-round draft pick when there are no picks in the second or third rounds?

Yikes.

Enough from me. Let’s hear from you on this. Comment here.

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. Dave says:

    I expected to see Niskanen go. A shame. More of a shame that all of that talent is going to go and we won’t get anything in return.

  2. Jeff Deburgh says:

    Hopefully, they can deal Niskanen’s rights for a pick. Gotta get something out of it

  3. Jason says:

    A clear direction would be nice to hear from GMJR. He’s concerned about winning now and getting pieces to do that. However, he’s not willing to make the moves to keep Niskanen when he can help win now.

  4. Crash says:

    Rutherford:

    “The reason was because I believed they were committed elsewhere and weren’t available. Since then, I’ve contacted them to see if they have that commitment. Those are guys I’m going to be talking to.”

    Screams of Keenan, no?

  5. Slack Rogers says:

    Scotty Hartnell for Kriss Letang?

  6. Paul says:

    This will be the first year the Pens have lost two UFA whose names end in NEN.

  7. Bruru71 says:

    I am alright trading a first in a package if it means getting a young top 6 winger for Sid or Geno that will be here for awhile. But only for that. Not upset with losing Nisky or Jokinen. Should of traded Nisky for bottom 6 help last year. Him not commenting on Orpik has me worried. Play the young guys.

  8. GemCity says:

    My confidence in Rutherford seems to deteriorate a little every time he speaks.

  9. Erik Bruckner says:

    It made sense to be to deal Letang and his $7.25M salary for 2 young wingers and resign Niskanen @ $5-5.5.M

  10. Chris says:

    Wasn’t the draft mismanagement and lack of forward prospects in the system a reason for cutting Shero loose? Now we’re open to trading our 1st rounder?? What’s Pierre up to these days?

  11. If they trade away a first round pick, they have no right to blame draft and AHL roster problems on Shero anymore … meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And letting Jussi go is a terrible decision. Where is all this trading and cap space room going toward? Can we please start building up the team rather than dismantling it? This feels like an orchestrated attempt to create the illusion of big changes without doing much at all.

  12. Jason says:

    Finding a partner would prove difficult. With the new CBA, pending UFA’s can talk to any other team starting Wednesday. Don’t think a team will want to lose a pick for a day head start.

  13. David says:

    At this point, I’m inclined to believe the team’s actions more than I am their words.

  14. Pghgolfgirl says:

    Is it OK to say that I’m losing respect for GMJR although he hasn’t even been on the job for a month? I can’t believe that he’d trade away a first round pick when we don’t have any second and third round picks. I thought one of the reasons GMRS got fired was because he didn’t draft effectively. Someone explain to me how this is an upgrade?!

    And losing Niskanen? One of few strong voices in a locker room that is shaky to say the least. I know that he is due a big payday and I hope he gets it but it doesn’t even seem like GMJR is making an effort to sign him.

    Unfortunately, I think he is going to go with a “retread” too, namely Ron Wilson.
    Not looking forward to this season at all…

  15. Scott says:

    If I was a crazy person, I might start to convince myself Rutherford took the job to destroy Pens from within………not that they need the help apparently.

  16. Rod says:

    Not really worried about Niskanen leaving, he had a decent year but he’s no Letang

  17. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK–you asked on the morning thread if Three Days to Kill was an old movie. It was released this year, and is now at Redbox. I thought maybe some of it was filmed in Pittsburgh, but in checking IMDB it wasn’t. Interestingly, looks like most of it was filmed in Serbia.

  18. Jandy says:

    But for NOTHING?

    Aaarrgghhh!!!!!

  19. Brad says:

    I think they are going to get too much money for what they can bring to the team. Nisky had a career year and will regress. Jussi is a good player but he has had big years before and then disappeared.

  20. mike schaaf says:

    I don’t care if Nisky and Jussi leave , we weren’t winning with them, but trading away The first round pick is a bad idea, unless we get top tier talent in return

  21. Empty_y says:

    This is the catch 22 of drafting and hording all these puck moving d-men. If you don’t use them as trade chips to get better at forward at some point you have to give them a chance at the expense of older, more expensive players. In hindsight of course it is easy to say Shero should have tried to move Niskanen or better yet move Letang and his cap unfriendly contract and re-sign Niskanen to a deal that presumably provides more flexibility. Unfortunately the Pens are probably losing one of their most reliable veteran d-men for nothing and will be stuck with Letang’s contract for a long time unless Rutherford pulls off something quite extraordinary. Not an enviable position to be in.

  22. Kiki Berkey says:

    What I loved about Shero is that he kept things quiet. Rutherford talks too much to reporters. There’s still time to trade Niskanen’s rights. Also, trade Jussi’s rights as well. Rutherford would definitely get more for Jussi this time around than paying his salary to not play for him. The Pens could honestly get at least 3rd or 4th round draft picks for these two guys if they trade their rights. I’d love for Samuelsson to be the coach. It’s not nostalgia because he played for the Pens. I was too young to remember his days as player for the Pens. This team needs an attitude adjustment & a guy that groom young defenmen.

  23. Kirsten says:

    I’m far to emotionally invested in Niskanen and Jokinen. Nisky for always talking to the media and saying what needs to be said – even if it hurts. Jokinen for his work during the playoffs.

  24. Adam Smith says:

    I don’t buy too much into the “moving the 1st pick for help now” mantra…Pretty much every GM in the league says something along those lines, including Tallon in Florida who would be crazy to pass on Ekblad. Here’s hoping the Pens do the right thing and take a gritty winger like Brendan Lemieux with the pick.

    As for the coaching decision, Rutherford needs to just hire Ulf already. No use fighting fate while taking the risk of being ran out of town on a rail. Hiring Ulf–at the very least–would give Pens fans something to cheer about after a very tough summer (more like 3 consecutive tough summers).

    Hate to see Niskanen go for nothing, but the only consolation is that the Pens might finally give the young guys some more responsibility. It seems the time is now for the young guys to step up; so as much as I hate seeing Niskanen go, I’m excited about seeing guys like Dumoulin, Samuelsson, Pouliot, and especially Bortozzo and Despres getting more playing time.

  25. Mike P. says:

    I’m just failing to understand why he is commenting at all, on anything. No good can come from it. Better to remain quiet and be thought a fool…

  26. Larry says:

    I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for the GM to discuss free agents, possible trades and coaching searches through the media. I’m certain that by discussing all of these topics, he’s tipping his hand and losing leverage in almost all of these situations.

  27. Keith says:

    They need every penny of their remaining cap money for forwards, I’m not surprised Nisko will be gone. Not terribly happy about having Letang and Scuds at those prices (they’d have been much better off simply keeping Lovejoy than dealing him for a fifth and resigning Scuds at that ridiculous cost), but it is what it is. As it stands, their top six on opening night may well be: Martin, Letang, Scuds, Despres, Borts & Dumoulin. And that’s if no one other than Maatta is on the shelf rehabbing.

    Mentioning the possibility of dealing the first is nothing more than testing the waters. Maybe an offer good enough comes of it. No harm in that.

  28. Swazi says:

    Glad to hear Ulf is still in the mix, but it is troubling that even though he interviewed, Rutherford is starting over, and talking to other names he didnt before. Makes me think he ultimately will not give an offer to Samuelsson.

    To me, given the rumor of management wanting Tocchet on the staff regardless of who the coach is, Ulf makes the most sense, since the two,are friends and have great respect for one another. They know each other. Unlike Willie or Peters with Rick.

    Ulf is the best man for the job. I just have a sinking feeling the Pens FO is going to flub this up.

  29. Zack says:

    If Rutherford said to other teams I’m selling Kris Letang, almost every team is going to be interested. The return value is just going to be far lower than what you would want, but I think they would fair better by moving him for a young winger and using the saved cap space to bring in some bulk for the bottom six. Not much out there though.

  30. Robert says:

    Amid this Penguins stuff, is it weird that I hear a ship’s orchestra playing “Nearer my God to thee”?

  31. Swazi says:

    Keenan does make sense if the FO goes the insanity route of luring Babcock next year. Keenan never lasts very long on a team.

  32. Andy says:

    I’ve read a few reports that say the draft talent really falls off around pick 20 in the first round. With the Penguins holding the 22nd pick, why not consider including it in a trade for an immediate impact?

    It’s unfortunate to see Niskanen and Jokinen go, but teams are going to overpay for them and they will not be considered as good when on teams with less talent. They will be focused on more by opposing teams with less talent around them. Niskanen is still young enough where he could be entering his prime, but he’s never produced like he did this past year. He’d be a great signing, but you can’t break the bank (or cap here) on him when you have such a large group of talented young d-men waiting in the wings. Time to let some of the babies that we’ve heard so much about play.

  33. hockeymonster says:

    Had a late lunch…what i miss? :)

  34. I just wonder what the value of the job interview is, versus finding the guy who’s best for the job. Just thinking out loud here. You’re not hiring an interviewee.

  35. Rbilak says:

    GMJR has had enough time to determine if he could keep Nisky or Jussi, if not, trade their rights today. No excuses for that and it falls on him. First thing he had to do. A big F aling with coaching decision fail. Not inspiring at all. This is better?

  36. Jandy says:

    Not much, really :D

    Lotta talk, no action….SOS

  37. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    > If they trade away a first round pick, they have no right to blame draft and AHL roster problems on Shero anymore …

    +++++

  38. espo33 says:

    I agree. I don’t need to heard from Ruth’s everyday on the coaching search, etc.

  39. espo33 says:

    Agree, let Nisk walk.

  40. KING says:

    I’m a Jokinen fan. He made some big goals in regular season & in the playoffs. A good guy too.

    This Niskanen situation reminds me of Worilds where he exploded in his last year. I don’t think Pens could predict his outstanding year.

    I can’t believe the Penguins lack of quality forwards. One of the reason they fired Shero. 2014-2015 looks like a wasted year. Could help the franchise if they tanked the season & added a Jagr type talent in Top 5 picks.

    Ulf & Tocchet would make a good team in getting some discipline & fire to this team. Penguins fans deserve better than the effort team put out in playoffs. I’m worried what attendance will be at Consol. People have seen this movie hundred times before & know how it ends. KING

  41. Jandy says:

    I see a lot of newcomers, lurkers…whatever you call yourselves.

    We are proud members of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum.

    If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the Lunatics’ List.

    Don’t be shy…join us :)

  42. Agreed. It’s been easily the most striking aspect of all of this. Maybe in Raleigh he needed to do that.

  43. espo33 says:

    No and that was before he was traded to Columbus for Umberger.

  44. espo33 says:

    How is really nothing? He was needed for the playoff run. If they don’t sign him, they don’t resign him. Of course it would be great to trade him for an extra pick if another team wanted his rights.

  45. hockeymonster says:

    Headache better? :)

    If not just picture Mike “inner monster” Keenan behind the bench. Should fix you up :)

  46. Derek says:

    I agree that Shero is most at fault for not getting value back for Niskanen, but Rutherford has been here long enough to find an interested party to trade his rights to for a pick.

    I’m with ya on Ulf. I have said it for a while and the fact they are still dragging their feet is a bit troublesome.

  47. mike says:

    if JR is convinced they are gone, trade their negotiating rights for some more picks….

  48. mike says:

    http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2014/06/23/report-kesler-only-wants-to-be-traded-to-penguins-or-hawks/?ocid=Yahoo&partner=ya5nbcs

    if there is any truth to this, perhaps that is whay JR is looking to move that 1st rounder for….

  49. espo33 says:

    I guess it depends on who they get back in return if they trade their 1st pick. Heck it is better getting a full season for the player as opposed to renting a player and have him walk, which most teams do. And there is a big gap on talent level this year, if they lose they lose it.

    The only problem is Ruth’s track record on trades haven’t been good.

  50. hockeymonster says:

    Please no sour grapes about Nisky. His value wasn’t this high after last season but shero wanted him here for a cup run. Sound logic and no one is at fault if we lose him for nothing. It happens, especially to cup contending teams. If anything shero, disco, reirden and conditioning coach deserve credit for developing him into the improved player he’s become. And being a UFA is always good motivation. On one hand we should be able to get a 3-4th round pick but i believe MN will be making an offer so who knows if another team wants to jump out front of that. Would be nice to get a 3rd or 4th for orpik.

  51. Jeremy says:

    Considering the majority of the literature in the management field shows there is little correlation between interview performance and job performance, the interview is basically worthless.

  52. George K says:

    If they expect Jokinen and Niskanen to go then they might as well trade their rights at the draft + get at least something. The Niskanen situation is one of Shero’s biggest blunders when he could’ve been locked up for cheap long ago.

  53. Arriba Wilver says:

    Tell that to Mike Tomlin. ;-)

  54. Arriba Wilver says:

    Seriously, I think it’s typically more of a weeding out process, but also could give you an idea (perhaps ultimately false) whether you can work with the candidate. You also might see something that doesn’t appear on paper. The “right” candidate won’t be known till long after you hire someone.

  55. Mike Vee says:

    Why is all of the coach hiring mishaps in the news? Why is the Nisk and Jussi stuff in the news? This just makes the entire organization look like a bunch of minor leaguers and costs them leverage in making any deals now that they look desperate. What free agent is going to want to come here?

  56. Thundercrack says:

    Are you suggesting that they shouldn’t even conduct an interview with a candidate?

  57. haverford89 says:

    Hartnell just traded to Columbus for Umburger and a 2015 pick….

  58. Thundercrack says:

    I find this all very funny, in respects to fans asking why is this in the news and why are they talking so much.

    When, especially with the other two major franchises in the city, fans usually complain about the very opposite.
    There is never enough news or nobody from the FO is around to answer questions.

  59. Mike says:

    I have a feeling the Pens front office doesnt want Ulf. Maybe they feel he won’t bring enough love/offense to the superstars. They say they want character and heart, so why not Ulfie/Tocchet?

    Regarding the roster, as the draft gets closer, I think we’ll see more moves. I would love to see Neal/Martin traded, though after letting Niskanen go (still time to get some late round picks for his/Jussi’s rights), I cant imagine losing our top 3 (arguably) defensemen from last year in 44/7/2. But we have the prospects – we need to see how they turn up if we arent trading any of them.

  60. Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Is it just me, or has this organization looked bush league the entire off season?

  61. Josh says:

    Dejan, I find it hilarious how the upper management thinks. 1st lets hire a gm who hasnt done much good in recent years in Carolina and had to step down. Rutherford is old, and while i like his approach with analytics, i think a more forward thinker was needed. As a fan, anyone one of the candidates who isnt a former flame out coach deserves a chance (crawford,wilson) as the coach. Maybe Ulf fits more than the others, I highly doubt he would get bullied by geno and sid in that locker room. Nisky being mismanaged cant be put on the new guy, its Shero’s mess that he got stuck with and unfortuantely as fans Nisky is in the middle of it.

  62. PetroSteel says:

    Babcock to Pens for number 1 pick plus cash plus player. Ulf and RT on coaching staff.

  63. jeff says:

    When did Ryan Clark become GM of the Penguins? Man, this guy loves to talk to the press. If they wanted a media analyst, they should have hired Pierre McGuire. What purpose does telegraphing every potential personnel move before ahead of time to the media serve? What business discusses personnel matters openly with the press? Its almost like he is trying to make up for the lack of access the ownership group gave to the media during the GM search.

  64. Mike says:

    Niskanen and Maata were your top pairing last fall. That was the best defense I’ve seen from a Pens team in years. Granted, it was regular season with no tendencies to study. It was so wonderful to see our defensemen chase down a puck, make a quick decision and get it up the ice. Nothing fancy or creative, just standard no frills defense. I loved it. This spring it looked worse. Maybe Bylsma lost the room or a few influential players and it all blew up. Morehaus said not a rebuild. OK, I’ll buy that, just revamp the roster, eh.

  65. Leanne says:

    I cannot even form a coherent comment about possibly losing Nisky and Jussi except it’s just wrong! Not after the great work done for us.

  66. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    I’ve been frustrated by the lack of concrete progress on the player front for weeks…

    There’s no acceptable excuse if Niskanen walks out the door and the Penguins don’t have anything to show for it. Rutherford himself indicated that Niskanen would be a tough one to sign when he was first announced as GM and he’s projected to be the most sought after offensive-defenseman in the free agent pool. He’s expected to command in the $6M range per year, which, even if the Penguins did determine he’s worth it long-term (he’s not), they could never afford to pay him without dumping salary. Why the Penguins still hold his negotiating rights is beyond me: his rights could have been traded two or three times by now.

    Trading the first-round pick is a cruel joke. For all the criticism of Shero squandering draft picks and prospects in an effort to win now, of how the Penguins need to get younger, ownership allowing Rutherford to go out and trade the Penguins first round pick is unconscionable. How, with 11 pending UFAs and two RFAs, Rutherford has not moved up the draft order or acquired any picks in the second and third rounds is beyond comprehension.

  67. chethejet1 says:

    So tell me where Nisky and JJ play on the Kings or for that matter the Rangers? Nisky is at best a top four D man. JJ is a guy who looks good when he scores and hustles. But he simply is not a very good winger on the wall and plays el Toro defense. Letang if coached by someone actually knows defensemen can be terrific as long as his health is 100%. It appears Orpik is done and Scuderi was awful last year. Time for someone who sees the upside in Despres, along with Oli. If they don;t extend Martin which I am not in favor off, trade him for a winger. Get someone who as the grit and heart to make the Pens a tougher team to play against.

  68. Poole says:

    Yea unless that 1st pick is traded for a great player in his 20′s it doesn’t make ANY sense to move that pick…

  69. Mike says:

    Do you think he’d bundle it for a Kesler or Spezza deal?

  70. Poole says:

    Lots of juicy pieces in that article but the one that sticks out to me was this comment:

    “I had a couple of guys that I considered top candidates who did not interview originally,” Rutherford said. “The reason was because I believed they were committed elsewhere and weren’t available. Since then, I’ve contacted them to see if they have that commitment. Those are guys I’m going to be talking to.”

    Wonder who he is referring to? Stevens and Babcock are the only ones that come to mind blocked by “commitments”. Maybe I’m reading too much into it…

  71. chethejet1 says:

    By the way I would like Kessler for a number 1, Sutter and anyone except Pouliot and possibly Harrington.

  72. lonely libertarian says:

    Count me among the group of Steeler fans who is still not convinced that Tomlin is a top NFL coach…
    So I wish he had not been so good at interviewing

    Better if he could figure out how to not lose 3-4 games a year that were very winnable.

  73. Max says:

    Peculiar that a club criticized for trying too hard to control the message, hasn’t muzzled this doddering old fool.

  74. Poole says:

    Too old, too expensive. Sorry – need to get younger.

  75. Calem says:

    Dude, this isn’t basketball.

  76. Poole says:

    Possible. But I don’t think he should. Don’t underestimate how badly we need contributing forwards on an entry level deal. Kesler and Spezza are expensive and we’re not exactly in a position to take on a bunch of salary.

    I honestly think the “roster retooling” will be more a factor of subtractions than additions. The team will most likely be without Orpik, Niskanen, Jokinen, Glass, Pyatt, Engellend, Kobasew, whoever else I’m missing.

  77. Mike P. says:

    He just strikes me as somebody who is very much NOT in control of what’s going on around him. And doesn’t seem shy about admitting as much…

    I’m left with more questions than answers every time he speaks.

    How much of this organizational dysfunction is actually new vs. how much has just become visible since the season ended? I have to remind myself that this soap opera started with ownership publicly chewing up Shero and spitting him out. It didn’t start with JR’s arrival.

    I think it may have been you DK who remarked on the fact that Marian Hossa couldn’t get out of Pittsburgh fast enough. Iginla, the same. Recchi, Therrien, and others have had success post-Pittsburgh.

    On the other hand, guys like Guerin and Fitzgerald have settled in long-term. Botteril, still here.

    Does Ulfie WANT to coach the Penguins? If not, why not?

    Where’s the effort towards at least trying to convince Niskanen or Jokinen to stay? Mark my words, both will be sorely missed unless JR pulls some rabbits out of some hats, and quick.

  78. Max says:

    Favorite

  79. Dave G says:

    Columbus will be a force for years to come. And now they’ve added an arch-nemesis of the Pens to the mix.

    Things just got real in central Ohio.

  80. Florida Steeler says:

    Shero is at fault for giving Letang all that money.

  81. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    Stevens and Babcock are contractually bound to their teams, so the Penguins must seek permission to speak with either of them. The LA Kings already denied Pittsburgh permission to speak with Stevens and Detroit has indicated they would not release Babcock from his contractual obligations, so I don’t think either of them are who Rutherford was referring to.

    I’m worried that Rutherford was alluding to Mike Keenan, who is currently coaching in the KHL…

  82. CHH says:

    The longer this drags on, coupled with the lack of an established coach in the running, the more I think they will do whatever it takes to get Babcock next year.

  83. Poole says:

    Ha — I seriously was one of the people going off and pleading people to let the Babcock thing go. These vague statements are messing with my head!

    Mike Keenan — ahhhhh. I can’t see this ending well. Really, who would we be happy with that is available? Ulf would already be the coach if their was mutual interest. I just want a decent, well-rounded staff and get moving on player personnel moves. Please get some draft picks for the Niskanen and Jokinen rights by yesterday.

  84. Poole says:

    Even if it was, I wouln’t trade a first round draft pick for a coach. Seriously, just absurd.

  85. Pete in Dayton says:

    Just read GMJR’s comments… wow.
    Would anyone else mind if the Pens rolled a dump truck full of cash to Nationwide Arena for the front office and coaching staff of the Blue Jackets? I’ve been in Ohio for 3 and a half years, and have gone from seeing the Blue Jackets look AWFUL to pretty good. Turning Philly’s goalie scraps into a Vezina winner? Check. Turning an overpaid bottom 6 forward (sorry, RJ) into a top 6 forward? Check. The rest of the trades haven’t been awful, and they didn’t have Horton during their playoff run this past year. Look for them to pass Philly in the Metro next year, and possibly the Rangers- I don’t even want to think about what the Penguins are going to look like next year giving the disaster that is the current coaching search.

    Seriously, the Blue Jackets are usually broke- how much money would it take?

  86. Rbilak says:

    100% correct. There is no excuse for Joke Rutherford. His first obligation is to know what to do with his assets. Nisky would bring a third for his rights. Inexcuseable. This guy looks way in over his head. Is he aware MAF has a year left? May take him 11 months to figure it out. Sad.

  87. KING says:

    The Penguins Cup window has closed. They don’t have much depth & probably will lose Orpik,Jokinen,Niskanen & a few other free agents.

    East will be better in 2014-2015. Toronto has plenty of young forwards & the Rangers should return to playoffs. Boston will be back with anger after losing to Montreal. Philly will be in the mix & New Jersey will be practicing their shootout moves twice a day.

    Penguins probably will make the playoffs on the strength of Sid & Geno but the 3 & 4 lines could use some upgrades. The 2014-2015 Pens should be interesting on all fronts. KING

  88. michael says:

    Her is my solution. Trade all the talent yu can now. Neal, letang, even malkin. Rebuild. Give us a winner in 4 years. There is no way to win a cup in the next 4 years anyway with the situation they are in.

  89. Mike Vee says:

    and #4 as well

  90. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    After everything that’s happened this offseason, the Penguins are going to take a lot of flak if Rutherford goes out and packages the organization’s only pick in the first three rounds in a deal for Ryan Kesler.

  91. Joeyhockey says:

    The notion that penguins are not stanley cup contenders is absurd. The team they have right now just finished 2nd in the conference. They were being led by a man who has lost the locker room. The penguins are gonna get rid of some of those players. Some by trade, others by free agency. Nisky and JJ aren’t ppl you need to lose your head over about not keeping. And the ppl they trade away will bring talent back. As long as. GMJR doesn’t botch those trades. When you have crosby and Malkin. You are always a cup contender.

  92. Karen22 says:

    I’m not a hockey guru by any means, but this Penguins’ off-season thus far would put Ringling Bros. in the second slot for circus rankings. WOW.

  93. Ron says:

    Edmonton has been very open to say they are looking for a smooth-skating, offensive defenceman. JR needs to stop showing his hands for everyone to see. Letang would have fit nicely in Edmonton and he could have received forward depth and possibly draft capital in return. Now, Edmonton will wait until July 1st and throw a big contract at Niskanen and the Pens will be stuck with Letang’s inflated contract.

  94. Jim Stafford says:

    Oh how the mighty have fallen. Not so long ago I said with a pride that I am and have been a season ticket holder for going on two decades. I have seen the best of times and the worst of times and always been able to explain why the Pens have been deep in the valley and the top of the mountain .
    That is not the case now, the Penguins have become a joke in a quick 6 weeks, so many people have to take some blame but at this point no more then Mario and Ron Burkle. No explanation for the hiring of someone no longer wanted by a bad team, and to let him bring in people from a losing culture is shameful. I can not believe they are willing to write off 1-2 years of what is a fast dwindling career of Crosby and Malkin. By the time this team rebounds from this miss management these guys will be 30, what is left in the tank at that age. Have the SJ Sharks of the past 6 years not shown anything.
    Embarrassing

  95. DJ says:

    You’re right Nisky is no Letang.

    And that’s exactly why we should try to retain him.

  96. dave says:

    DK,
    I know this isn’t politically correct but it is something I have believed for years. The NHL has many executives that are not educated(college), as most are former players that came straight from juniors to the NHL. I believe Rutherford fits in that category. These management types just don’t have the business acumen that should be required and it shows in many instances. Rutherford and his continuous bumbling is a perfect example of my theory.

  97. Mario Lopez says:

    Losing Nisky for NOTHING is inexcusable. WE can’t afford him, trade his rights NOW & get a pick for him. Trade Neal & his BONEHEAD plays & inability to create on his own. Resign Jussi to keep SUM chemistry w/ GENO & fact Jussi can create on his own.

  98. Stephen Powanda says:

    First off Niskanin had 1 Good Year let the Buyer Beware. I want Ulf with Tocchet but if I can’t have them then give me Mike Keenan for a year. Now you’ll hear Crosby cry like he never cried before. By the way Rutherford didn’t put us in this position. Ray Shero did. A two for Murray and a three for Stempniak. Comon Man! 7.5 mil for Letang. Kunitz and Dupuis are in their mid 30s. Most of our UFA are not worth keeping anyway. Time to say Goodbye to Orpik. Trade Martin for a tough winger and bring up some of that defensive talent.I could go on for an hour but Shero created this mess not Rutherford and also don’t you think Rutherford has to do what Mario and Burkle tell him?

  99. cobra39 says:

    The guys will be a FREE AGENT in A WEEK. What would you trade to acquire him?

  100. TJ says:

    You can pin the losses of Niskanen and Jussi for nothing in return on ownership as well. I think the Islanders were making deals during the playoffs for soon to be UFA. The fact that they knew they wouldn’t resign and didn’t move them for a 3rd or 4th or any pick for that matter is ridiculous. I know it takes 2 to make a trade but it doesn’t help when there isn’t a GM on this side to make it happen either.

    Interesting to see Willie go to Vancouver thus leaving Disco out of a job to start the season. Wonder if he will take Pierre’s spot between the glass. Considering he’s out of a job and will make 2 mil from the Pens anyway why not just bring him back? I mean its not like we haven’t already blown up this off season and perhaps the season based on our pace of movement. Shero would have had Niskanen resigned, Jussi traded for Carolina’s 1-7 picks this year and next and traded for the rights to Ryan Miller.

  101. Derek Conner says:

    DK – Agree with you on most things, but I don’t get your distain for “retread” coaches, especially with a team looking to get back to the finals.

    I’m sure Ulf will be a fine coach someday, but the last 25 year history of Stanley Cup Winning Coaches show that hiring a coach with NHL experience has more favorable results.

  102. TJ says:

    I believe Murray was 2 #2 picks not just 1.

  103. We will have to disagree. This team needs to show a lot of people it’s serious about building an identity. You don’t do that with retreads. That’s a punt.

  104. Dave says:

    That would be a Utopia bench–don’t u think that Babcock will want his people instead of Ulf & Tocchet’ Why would Ulf want to leave Rangers in a lateral move?

  105. Joeyhockey says:

    thats sarcasm right… he would have traded for ryan miller’s rights? no he would not have and also why do you want ryan miller? we have MAF. He puts out a just as good if not better regular season number than Miller. If you want miller cause of his playoff struggles, miller has had his too. Just look at what the blues did these past playoffs. MAF is a good goalie and was not even close to the reason as to why the pens left the playoffs earlier than they should have this year.

  106. hockeymonster says:

    Quenneville, Sutter, AV, Iron Mike, etc. etc. etc…???

  107. hockeymonster says:

    bazinga

  108. DJ says:

    Have seen references to Bylsma possibly being in the booth, studio or between benches.

    I’ve seen him in action in presser and other TV settings and don’t think he possesses that talent. Real nice guy but vanilla.

  109. The Bucs are now back to .500 at least for tonight as Volquez shows once again that he’s better at night than he is during the day and the Tampa Bay Rays showed why they’re now 32-47. Meanwhile, hopefully, the Pens will find someone willing to coach them for two or three seasons sooner than later since all the other NHL teams have filled their coaching positions while the Pens haven’t. And then, hopefully, the Pens will eventually get something for Niskanen and Jokinen.

  110. Dave Devine says:

    Comments not displaying in Safari. Anyone else having this problem?

  111. Jandy says:

    hahaha just saw this….good thing I didn’t think of Keenan behind the bench, I’d have lost my stomach ;)

  112. John says:

    Why are we not considering Tony Granato or Jacques Martin? Guilty by association with Bylsma? Both have significant experience and know our players. Could also be a good stop gap if Babcock really is the target in 2015.

    This situation is getting uglier by the day. I knew the team needed some changes but didn’t agree with letting Shero or Bylsma go…. there were no better options. The real need for this team is for better balance and players with heart that play fast and play hungry. Look at Columbus’ roster and how they outworked us or how the Kings have a blend of young role players that mesh with the stars. Think back to 1991-1992 when Mario and Co. skated with guys like Phil Bourque, Randy Gilhen, Troy Loney, and Bob Errey. Who on our current roster, other than Jussi Jokinen (who we are bound to lose in a week) and maybe Joe Vitale plays with that kind of style?

  113. Darren Dreger is reporting (via twitter) that Mike Johnston “is top candidate to coach Pens”. Apparently he’s the Portland Winterhawks coach — had to google that. For a team that seems to need a serious identity upgrade, not sure how a junior coach does that. Even with NHL experience as an assistant, not sure he brings much identity to a team that surely lacks one.

  114. At least Mike Johnston has written a book — might be a pre-requisite to be the Pens coach:
    http://www.winterhawks.com/page/mike-johnston

  115. melissa sciortino says:

    Johnston was suspended offer illegal player benefits also. He makes sense for a young building team, not so much for a team whose prime years are right now.

    Seems we can ignore the early rounds of the draft.

 
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