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15 February 2009


Now I am all about giving people second chances, but I believe that it was apparent that it was the team that got up for San Jose the other night, and not the coach. I don't think the coach had anything to do with the team winning that game, or he would had instituted that inspiration against the Maple Leafs last night. That was an embarrassing loss, especially because of where we came from and where we want to be. I wanted Michel Therrian ousted weeks ago. I felt that he wasn't able to get the team to play better, no matter how hard he tried. He couldn't inspire them to want to win, even when they looked down and out. He also seemed to have rifts with several players. I understand that everyone is not always going to get along, but we all saw the things that he was trying and most of us didn't agree. I was willing to give him a second chance a few weeks later when we started a new style and it worked. The Pens have enough talent to win these games. It takes a good coach to make the team. We won so much last year, I believe, solely based on talent alone. Reality set in when you could see that the Pens really didn't want to play for him anymore. They needed a change. I think Therrian was a great minor league coach and knew how to work with that level of talent. He had troubles with his other team that he headed up as well, ironically around this same timeline. It seems he can get the team to a certain level and then can't get them any further. I am quite pleased with this decision and actually think it should have been done a couple months ago.

Enough about Therrian. About the playoffs: “That’s our goal,” Shero said. “It’s been uphill battle. This is a resilient group. I’m looking for Dan to come in with the coaches here to rally the troops. We’re looking to make some progress here and make a push. “
The Pens made their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma the interrim head coach. Balysma retired from the NHL after the 2004-05 season, right before the lockout. He is merely 38 years old and on the fast track for a head coaching position. Balysma may be the ticket to encourage the players the right way instead of the way Therrian did. He played parts of 429 games for Los Angelos Kings and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He was more of a defensive offenseman. He coached for the Ducks affiliate in Cincinnati as well as assistant coach for the Baby Pens during their Calder Cup Finals. He started coaching as an assistant for the New York Islanders. Some say that he is excellent in developing talent. He has been working well with the Baby Pens talent. They have a combined record of 98-49-5-8 since coming aboard last year. I don't know how permanent this coaching change is, but I can see them holding on to him for the rest of the season, obviously, and depending on how the Pens play the rest of the season. The Pens surprisingly reassigned Andre Sarvard to somewhere withing the organization. They also kept assistant Mike Yeo and goaltending coach Gilles Meloche where they are. Tom Fitzgerald, the Penguins’ director of player development, will join the staff as an assistant coach. I like this change all except for keeping Yeo. We have the league's worst power play and that is Yeo's bread and butter.

The new staff will have today and the morning skate, if they have one, tomorrow to prepare for the New York Islanders. Every game from here on is a must win. I was encouraged when I read what Balysma had to say: “I’m a passionate person and energetic person,” Bylsma said. “I believe you need commitment, passion and a high energy level. That’s how I approach life. We have a great challenge that we should enjoy. We should bring all that energy to the rink (Monday) .” “To have an opportunity to coach a team with this much talent and this much possibility is a great chance for me,” Bylsma said. “I look at the players and the roster and I look at a group that can win games right now. We need to do that starting (Monday) on the Island. Players have to believe that we can do this. That’s the approach that we’ll take.” I am impressed with him already, so hopefully their will be a ripple effect on the rest of the team. “Teams should be forced to deal with our speed and skill and we need to be an aggressive group,” Bylsma said. “We’re going to try to get the guys on their toes and going, bringing passion and work ethic to game. If we focus on playing back to our strength and get away from the situation it’s been for a while here, you’ll see a team that can compete and be a contending team.” Like I said earlier, though, I am confused about them moving Sarvard out and leaving Yeo in. Is it really execution of the plays he draws up or are the plays and thought process that bad this year just because Gonchar has been gone. Who knows. I guess we will find out. I am sure Crosby and Malkin would love to have steady linemates. Orpik, who had a recognized problem with Therrian, should be quite happy. I hope this change is right inline with a quality trade.

I have heard so many rumors, who knows what to expect. As I recall last year, we didn't hear anything about us getting Hossa, so who knows what Shero has up his sleeve this year. I know he is shopping Whitney and Staal. I know alot of you are saying how you want to be rid of Whitney and Staal and their contract. I agree only with Whitney, and only because we have NHL ready offensive defenseman on the Baby Pens squad. I think he absence from the team for the first couple months hurt him. When he came back, there was so much pressure to perform since Gonchar wasn't there, he hasn't been able to play as well. I think his performance in the playoffs last year is a big selling point. Ok, now, onto Staal. I would love to see what a good coach can do with him. He is in need of a little development, we all know that. He is still young enough in age and his career to make subtle changes the way he plays to make him better. I am going to sit here and hope for the best.
I would love to see something happen in this game to give us all hope.


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