In each of his first six years in command, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero has spoken to the local media very soon after the postseason. This year, however, Shero delayed the conference.
While Penguins players and coach Dan Bylsma met the press Sunday at Consol Energy Center, Shero scheduled his appearance at the podium for Wednesday morning. As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi reported, Shero has used the extra days to ruminate on the direction of the franchise following a dumbfounding four-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final.
Also according to Rossi, Shero met with Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle for much of Tuesday, part of a thorough discussion on where the team should proceed from a fourth straight postseason defeat at the hands of a lower-seeded opponent. We can presume much of the high-level powwow revolved around coaching, namely whether Bylsma should return for a fifth full season.
It’s reasonable to project that Shero will reveal Bylsma’s fate at 11 a.m. Wednesday, although it’s not certain. At the very least, perhaps Shero can shed some light on what he and the rest of the guys upstairs think about what went wrong against Boston.
After an early hiccup or two in their first-round series against the New York Islanders, the Penguins ripped off six wins in seven games to eliminate the Isles and Ottawa Senators, setting up an anticipated matchup with the Bruins. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh looked unfocused and easily discouraged in a pair of multi-goal losses to open the series at home, digging a deep hole as the series shifted to Boston.
The Bruins pulled out tight decisions in Games 3 and 4 to close out a series in which the high-scoring Penguins managed just two goals. Superstar centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined for zero points, helping waste a terrific goaltending performance from Tomas Vokoun.
While a trip to the East final would be considered a rousing success in most NHL markets, in Pittsburgh it’s simply another year without a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. In addition to their core of elite talent, Shero and the Penguins traded for veterans Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen to bolster their chances at a championship.
But the Pens fell flat after two series wins, throwing everything about the way they do business into question, including coaching. What Shero says Wednesday will set a tumultuous offseason into motion, with or without Bylsma.