[Click here for our podcast and post recapping the end of the Pens' season]
The landscape around the Pens is a real mess right now.
|It's about to get real weird.|
Said Bylsma, per the Post-Gazette:
"Marc-Andre Fleury is our No. 1 goalie."And regarding Tomas Vokoun:
"He's the No. 1 goalie for this franchise, and he will be going forward."
"Marc-Andre Fleury is a guy who's going to come back to our team [next season] and he's going to be the No. 1 goalie. He's going to be our franchise goalie, this franchise's goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury is going to go back in net. He's going to take the net. He's going to be the No. 1 goalie. He's going to play great. There's no question about that. And he's going to win a lot of hockey games for this team next season. He'll have that opportunity in the playoffs again when this team gets there."
"Tomas, I don't think, is in any different boat than he was when he came in here for last season. He's a guy who makes our goaltending tandem a very good one. He's going to play games for us, big games for us. He came in and did for us exactly what we signed him for last year. Next year, he's not going to get that opportunity [to become the starter] because Marc-Andre Fleury's going to be in net winning hockey games."What the hell? Read on for our quick thoughts...
Dejan Kovacevic rightly noted the absurdity of Bylsma's position, both on the substance of what he said and on the mere fact that he said it given that Bylsma is, you know, not the general manager.
But Ron Cook, being Ron Cook, decided to come out in full-throated support of Bylsma, suggesting that the Pens give him an extension this summer because it wasn't Bylsma's fault the Pens lost and hockey coaches too often get a raw deal.
It's a lot to digest on this Monday morning, so let us make just two quick points:
1) Even putting aside the highly questionable merits of Bylsma guaranteeing Fleury the top goalie spot next season (something we will discuss at length in a podcast later this week), we don't want Fleury to come back next season for selfish reasons. We'll spend 82 games waiting for the implosion. When Flower gets some 18-save shutout against Tampa over Thanksgiving weekend next season, are we supposed to think that means everything will be OK come late April? He feels like a ticking time-bomb. A $5 million suicide vest.
2) We're still sorting through our own thoughts on whether the Pens should retain Bylsma, but we're not operating on the faulty assumption that the following two statements are mutually exclusive: Dan Bylsma is a good coach, and the Pens need to fire him. Both can be true. There is no shortage of candidates for blame for the Pens' four straight playoff disappointments, but debating the relative blameworthiness of the coach, players, and management doesn't address the only question that matters: How do the Pens ensure that the next four playoffs don't end the same way?
As we wrote about last week, NHL coaches have a shelf-life and Dan Bylsma will start next season already at double the average tenure of Stanley Cup winning coaches since 1990. Maybe he's outlived his utility in Pittsburgh. Or maybe not. But either way, yesterday certainly didn't help.