Ed Olczyk: ‘Pittsburgh Penguins Have Underachieved’
Ray Shero is out.
The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager was fired Friday, this after another playoff collapse left both ownership and the fan base frustrated and in want of change.
Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, getting outscored 10-3 in the final three games, including 7-1 at home.
Shero spent eight years in Pittsburgh, helping the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009.
The fate of head coach Dan Bylsma is yet to be determined.
“Well, when you look at it, most general mangers get a second coach to at least go to when you’re deciding to make a change,” NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk said on The John Feinstein Show. “Last year, there was lots of speculation that Danny Bylsma was going to be out of a job after his team got knocked out by the Boston Bruins in the conference finals and only scored two goals in four games. It seemed like on the outside that Ray Shero went to bat for Danny Bylsma and (Bylsma) got a contract extension – and they underachieved again.”
“So maybe this is a situation where (Shero) saddled up to a specific thoroughbred and thought he could get you over the hump – and he did not. It kind of went off the track for Ray Shero. Looking back – and it’s easy to say now – but maybe (a coaching) change should have been made and maybe Ray would had an opportunity to stick around in Pittsburgh a little bit longer.”
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, the Penguins have lost to a lower seed in the playoffs five straight times. They’ve also played in just one conference finals – and got swept.
“They have underachieved,” Olczyk said. “I said going into this season that no team had more pressure on them than the Pittsburgh Penguins. It didn’t matter what they did in the regular season. Really, it was irrelevant. What would happen in the playoffs? When you have a lead like you did and you underachieve for the fifth year in a row – (that’s what happens).”
Bylsma has been Pittsburgh’s head coach since 2009. Whether he survives this latest collapse remains to be seen.
“I think he did a really good job there, but (he) just was not able to make the adjustment to get this team over the hump for five years,” said Olczyk, a former teammate of Bylsma. “And unfortunately, we know the nature of the business.”
Even if fired, however, Bylsma won’t be unemployed for long. And neither will Shero.
“There’s no doubt. There’s no doubt,” Olczyk said. “They’re very good hockey people. Outstanding human beings, most importantly to me.”
But if Bylsma is fired, will he and Shero be a package deal? After all, they won a Stanley Cup together.
Olczyk isn’t so sure.
“Both guys are going to get jobs at some point, for sure, without a doubt,” he said. “But if it’s together, it certainly would be an interesting dynamic. (Bylsma’s) teams, at the most important times, have underachieved.”
Even if Bylsma is fired, Olczyk believes the Penguins need to do more than just hire a new coach or general manager.
“They have to do something,” he said. “I don’t think this is only on the coach (or) only on the general manager. I think you got to look at the leadership. I think you got to look at the core of that team and figure out what type of team you’re going to be.”
While the Penguins certainly won’t trade Sidney Crosby, they have to wonder why he scored just one goal in 13 playoff games. The much-maligned Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, played well overall, especially compared to some of his previous playoff performances.
“They didn’t lose this year because of Marc-Andre Fleury,” Olczyk said. “They’ve always wanted to blame Marc-Andre Fleury. “They didn’t lose to the Boston Bruins last year because of the goaltending. They only scored two goals in four games. Where was the outcry on the lack of offense?
“But there’s no doubt they have to make some real serious changes,” Olczyk continued. “I don’t think you can go into next season with the same core and think that it’s going to change or it’s going to turn over and you’re going to win another round or two and get back to the Finals. I think you got to make some big changes.”