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January 17, 2019
It's About Time
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero, who’s been in a hurry to do absolutely nothing all season, finally woke up and fired Michel Therrien Sunday night, one day after the Penguins suffered a third humiliating defeat to the lowly Maple Leafs.
Toronto erupted for five third-period goals to club the Pens 6-2, handing the Arctic Birds their league-worst seventh loss when leading after two periods. That’s quality. And each soul-crushing defeat was worth it to get Therrien out from behind the bench.
I believe my feelings for Therrien are well documented. He’s a minor-league coach. Granted, he’s a superb minor-league coach, but he belongs on a bus somewhere in Saskatoon. He has no idea how to handle star players. He simply shoehorns everyone into his beloved system, regardless of talent or ability.
The Penguins reached the Finals last year in spite of Therrien, not because of him. Only the brilliance of Kid Crosby, Geno Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury, not to mention the arrival of Marian Hossa, carried the Pens to within two wins of the Stanley Cup. It was the worst thing that could have happened. Shero couldn’t fire the coach after such a memorable playoff run. Then again, he didn’t have to give him a new three-year contract either.
Shero is the true culprit in all this. Sure, Therrien was the wrong man for the job, but Shero never addressed the situation and ended up painting himself into a corner. Now the Pens will have to eat the final two years of the contract. Banner work, Ray. And Therrien didn't build a team without legit NHL wingers.
Wilkes-Barre Scranton head coach Dan Bylsma will take over for Therrien. Dan Bylsma? Who canceled? Well, Pat Quinn and John Tortorella probably. Bylsma is being called the interim head coach, so maybe a bigger name is still waiting in the wings, but I doubt it. Bylsma’s first game will be this afternoon against the New York Islanders. Hey, at least it will feel like he’s still in the minors.
Bylsma is indicating he wants the Pens to play a fast-paced, offensive game befitting their talent. Wow, that almost sounds logical. If he keeps lines together for more than a period at a time and somehow figures out how to use Kris Letang at the left point on the power play instead of the right, I won’t be able to contain myself.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in all this is Mike Yeo staying on as an assistant coach. Yeo is Therrien Jr. It seems odd that he’s hanging around. Andre Savard was re-assigned within the organization. Tom Fitzgerald, who had been serving as Director of Player Development, will assume Savard’s assistant post.
The Penguins remain tenth in the Wales, five points behind Buffalo for the final playoff spot. There are 25 games left. They still don’t have any wingers. They’ve shown no passion all season. And they’re flush against the cap. But, on the bright side, Therrien's solid gone.
Hey, things are looking up.