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The Stanley Cup Final started Wednesday night, but the headlines both immediately before that game and on the day following were in some ways far more intriguing.
There had been a week of questions about what Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero might do, being under the whip from Mario Lemieux as he was, when it comes to making what could potentially be wholesale changes to a team that has been bounced from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion in each of the last three seasons.
And then the answer to all of them, apparently, was, "Nothing."
On Wednesday, just several hours before the puck dropped on Game 1 of the Cup Final between the team that beat his team for the best record in the regular season, and the one that swept it out of the Eastern Conference Finals with a vulgar display of dominance, Shero held a one-hour press conference that reminded the neutral observer of Muhammad al Sahhaf. "Everything in Mighty Pittsburgh is as it should be! The jackals around the league cannot hope to damage the great power of the Penguins!"
Dan Bylsma, rumored to be embattled (though for silly reasons)? Re-signed for another two years.
All his assistants? Riding back into the breach at his side once again.
This seemed more than fair. The idea that the Penguins didn't beat the Bruins — and, again, were humiliated by them — had little to do with his inability to adapt to the chess game Claude Julien was playing with him from the other bench, though it certainly didn't help things. The argument could be made that the Penguins certainly had their chances, particularly in Games 3 and 4, to make the series at least somewhat interesting, but they got more or less zero bounces to go their way over the course of those four games, and that's just how hockey goes sometimes.
Firing a coaching staff whose charges finished second in the league and in the postseason's final four always seemed shortsighted, even if you might have expected an assistant or two to get shuffled out for the sake of someone's head rolling and maybe changing up, well, anything.
What didn't make sense in that press conference was that Shero, like Bylsma days before him, went to the mattresses for a guy who was the culprit in the first two of the apparently unacceptable first-round losses of the previous two postseasons, and would have been one again this year until sanity prevailed and he got his ass hot-glued to the bench in favor of a 36-year-old with limited playoff experience.
That Marc-Andre Fleury has received a vote of confidence from his coach and general manager -- using roughly the same words to describe their deep and abiding and unflagging faith in his abilities despite all evidence hollering that they should do the opposite -- comes off very much as being the talking points of an administration embroiled in scandal.Read More »from Penguins GM Shero content with status quo, for better or worse (Trending Topics)