Next season, the Pittsburgh Penguins should look to the company that makes Prozac and ask them to be a sponsor. Free pill night would be a huge hit at Consol Arena. There’s no doubt that the the Pens stir up so much dang anxiety in the city of Pittsburgh – none more so than the latest two playoff series against the Blue Jackets and the Rangers. The morning is a flutter of what went wrong and what should happen next. Make no mistake, no matter who you ask, the strongest opinion is that the Pens GM Ray Shero is at the front of the line about to get tied to the rails.
And if the Steelers aren’t careful, they could share the same fate as their fellow Pittsburgh sports residents Penguins.
What does the Pens’ situation have anything to do with the Steelers? I couldn’t help but see some parallels on Wednesday morning as the dust settled from disgruntled fans (oh how they boo’ed so loudly after Game 7) trudging out of the Consol and the anger boiled over into rants, posts, long bouts of sobbing throughout the media and Twitter. Shoddy GM work over the last several years have left the Penguins without the offensive punch they need to win a Stanley Cup. After their top two forwards, then Pens had almost no one of true talent to act as solid supporting cast and aid the offense.
Let me say that again…..
Shoddy GM work over the last several years have left the Steelers without the offensive punch they need to win a Super Bowl. After their top two offensive players, the Steelers have almost no one of true talent to act as solid supporting cast and aid the offense.
See the parallels yet?
Much like the Penguins and their ill fated playoff runs that sputter due to real lack at depth on offense, the Steelers also lack any kind of punch in areas of depth that can’t get them into the playoffs let alone through the first round. Penguins GM Ray Shero has been unwise with his salary cap money and dished out big bucks to guys on defense who aren’t worth their lick for what they are supposed to do, such as guys like Rob Scuderi ($3.4 million) and Kris Letang ($7.25 million). The Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has been unwise with his salary cap money and dished out big bucks to guys on defense who aren’t worth their lick for what they are supposed to do, such as guys like LaMarr Woodley ($10+ million).
Still not seeing them?
Much of the blame has fallen to the coaching staff for the Penguins. Dan Bylsma will probably get fired for this latest transgression. Disco Dan has lost to lower seeded teams for five years running. There have been reports of locker room dissent and large bouts of arguing in the locker room and on the bench. It’s not completely Dan’s fault since the team he had to work with couldn’t score a goal to save their lives/series in over 24 minutes of hockey on Tuesday night. The team lacked heart, and that’s on Bylsma. Much of the blame has fallen to the coaching staff for the Steelers. Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, and Todd Haley have all had their fair share of criticism over the last few seasons. Since the Super Bowl loss to Green Bay, this team has never been the same – playoff loss to Tim Tebow and back to back playoff’less 8-8 seasons. Folks say Tomlin lacks control over his players. It’s not completely their fault since they have had to work with players that were either overrated as draftees or just completely uncoachable as developing athletes. Or, that their GM decided to restructure and keep signing players who continue to lose a step in their game instead of investing in younger talent. One thing is clear, the team lacks intensity and a nasty factor that helps wins games, and that’s on Tomlin.
I hope you are seeing the parallels now.
These two franchises share a very similar history of successes since the early to mid 90′s. Franchises that were on the brink of disrepair, only to be saved by some key events, that then catapulted them into greatness for decades. It’s also been pretty clear that these two franchises have seen their fair share of struggles lately, and they are very similar struggles.
The Pens have yet to make their pivotal offseason changes. The Steelers already made theirs:
Cutting Woodley, signing solid backups (except Heyward-Bey), and drafting fast players in the hopes that they become developed playmakers. However, Big Ben is still left without any guarantee on an exceptional supporting cast. Until we see how these draft picks pan out, how Munchak’s coaching improves (or doesn’t) the offensive line, how Haley utilizes (or misuses) his new weapons, there is still very much to be desired for with this squad…. something I’m sure Crosby and Malkin would admit to for their own team if you gave them enough beers.
The crosshairs are shifting towards Colbert as much as they are already burning a tattoo into Ray Shero’s forehead. What we don’t know is what is the temperament of Lemieux and Rooney these days?
Colbert better be right with these picks, or he (and Tomlin as the scapegoat) may very well face the same fate as scapegoat Bylsma is about to face and Shero bringing up the rear.