NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2023

by | Feb 25, 2023 | News, NHL | 53 comments

The Sabres move into a wild-card berth, Brad Marchand gets another fine, Erik Cernak gets a suspension, Penguins GM Ron Hextall responds to his critics, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres moved into the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Craig Anderson made 53 saves, Jeff Skinner scored twice to reach 600 career points and Tage Thompson collected three assists as the Sabres improved to 30-23-4 (64 points) to sit ahead of the Detroit Red Wings (28-21-8). Anthony Duclair had an assist in his season debut with the Panthers, who also have 64 points but drop to 29-26-6.

Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for the Eastern Conference wild-card berths is heating up. Five points separate the New York Islanders (67 points) and the Washington Capitals (62 points) with the Sabres, Red Wings, Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins (63 points) in between. The Capitals and Penguins, however, are fading while the Sabres, Wings and Panthers are surging.

Earlier in the day, the NHL and NHL Players Association released a joint statement indicating that Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight was taking a personal leave of absence to receive care from the Players’ Assistance Program. Best wishes to Knight as he undergoes treatment.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta stopped 32 shots to shut out the Ottawa Senators 4-0. Brent Burns, Seth Jarvis, Martin Necas and Brady Skjei scored for the 39-10-8 Hurricanes (86 points) as they sit seven points behind the league-leading Boston Bruins in the overall standings. The Senators slipped to 27-26-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta’s record is 9-0-1 at home while the Hurricanes are 14-1-1 in the last 16 contests.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for his sixth straight multi-point game in a 5-1 romp over the Winnipeg Jets. Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher also each had a goal and an assist as the 32-19-5 Avalanche (69 points) sit one point behind the Seattle Kraken while opening a three-point lead over the Calgary Flames in the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Mason Appleton scored for the Jets (35-23-1), who’ve dropped four of their last five but remain one point behind the first-place Dallas Stars in the Central Division with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only reason the Jets are still close behind the Stars is that the latter has won just two of their last 10 games. The news got worse for the Jets as they announced before this game that rookie Cole Perfetti will be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

An overtime goal by William Nylander lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Minnesota Wild 2-1. David Kampf also scored for the Leafs and Ilya Samsonov kicked out 24 shots as they improved to 36-15-8 to hold a four-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division with 80 points. Brandon Duhaime replied for the Wild (32-21-6) as they sit in third place in the Central with 70 points, just one back of the second-place Jets.

The Los Angeles Kings scored three goals in the second period as they held off the New York Islanders by a score of 3-2. Phillip Danault, Arthur Kaliyev and Gabriel Vilardi scored for the 33-19-8 Kings. They hold a two-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division with 74 points and sit one point back of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights. Noah Dobson and Adam Pelech replied for the Islanders (30-25-7) as they hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 67 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick picked up his 370th career win to surpass Tom Barrasso for the third-most wins by an American-born NHL goaltender. John Vanbiesbrouck is second with 374 and Ryan Miller holds first place with 391.

Montreal Canadiens winger Jesse Ylonen had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Chris Tierney also scored in his first game with Montreal after being claimed off waivers on Thursday. The Canadiens (25-29-4) have won five of their last seven games while the Flyers (23-27-10) have dropped six of their last seven contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers winger Joel Farabee dismissed rumors yesterday claiming his representatives have expressed their displeasure over how their client’s season is going under head coach John Tortorella.

I think for me right now, I’m 100 percent committed to being a Flyer,” said Farabee. Tortorella, meanwhile, was more blunt, telling reporters that if Farabee’s agent is leaking information he should “just shut up,” adding he “doesn’t give a damn” what he thinks.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Brad Marchand was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on Seattle Kraken winger Oliver Bjorkstrand.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak received a two-game suspension for elbowing Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins general manager Ron Hextall downplayed calls from some fans calling for his firing as his club slides in the standings. He said it won’t change how he conducts business, adding that he won’t spend big assets like a first-round pick to add a rental player before the March 3 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall didn’t say he wouldn’t trade a first-round pick for a player under contract beyond this season. That’s what he’s likely shopping for if he’s looking for help in the trade market.

Speaking of the Penguins, they place winger Kasperi Kapanen on waivers.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues center Robert Thomas took offense over head coach Craig Berube accusing his core players of not caring about the team during their loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. “I’ve been a part of this team for a long time,” said Thomas. “What he said couldn’t be further from the truth. I know everyone in that room cares.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube doubled down with his comments on Friday, saying he hoped his comments sparked a response from his players. Meanwhile, general manager Doug Armstrong sought to diffuse the situation by saying the club needs to come to grips with the current situation, puts its past behind them and turn the page.


  1. Pens are falling, flailing…. and those responsible for rectifying…. Are not doing what they need to

    Actually sitting 11th in East… but have 5 games in hand on Isle’s; 4 on Cats

    Counting winning %’ages…. Pens still out (Sabres and Wings IN)

    Hextall, Sully (and therefore defacto Burke) are causing this

    Penguins Need to Replace Ron Hextall or Mike Sullivan | Sports Illustrated Inside the Penguins News, Analysis and More


    and the media suggestions pour in

    What does Ron Hextall have to offer heading into the trade deadline?

    Evaluating Penguins’ assets that might draw interest at NHL trade deadline – The Athletic

    And re Pens …. “The patient needs major surgery, and a band-aid just won’t cut it.”

    Unacceptable: If This Is It, Penguins’ Hextall Should Give Up & Sell

    Unacceptable: If This Is It, Penguins’ Hextall Should Give Up & Sell


    Hextall is just now becoming aware of the “waiver” option????

    If Hextall had done this 3 weeks ago… Pens would have at least 4 more points (first WC spot) and perhaps as many as 6 or 7 more points; AND would have actually gained cap space:

    Waive Kappy, Dumo, Ruhweedel

    Bring up Friedman; Smith; AND Puust OR Nylander

    They’ve now waived Kappy and brought up Friedman.

    Waive and/or sit Dumo and Ruhweedel is a zero trade move that definitely improves Pens defensively

    The 3rd line is abysmal; but futures for UFAs to improve the third line will at best get Pens in (just) and ousted round 1 (Bruins or Canes)

    So….. options…..

    sell sell sell; and play Dumo and Ruhweedel top pairing (each 30 mins/game); hope and pray for the 3-5% shot at Bedard to come through; off season fire Hextall; Burke; Sully…. True true rebuild

    Or low cost add; plus waiving/sitting Dumo,Ruhweedel, Kappy replaced by Friedman & Smith… get in; out round 1; do major roster surgery off season; playoff streak alive

    Or low/medium cost add for term player(s); get in; lose first round; major surgery off-season; play-off streak alive

    Any major surgery…. Hextall and Sully and Burke must also go

    This is a mess

    • Pengy

      That is what got Hex out of Philly. He would never bet on the team. Alway clung to pucks like gold Now pens have to go through it till he gets canned

      • Pucks =. Picks. Dam auto correct

      • Knew what you meant MB4

      • Hextall 1st rounders as Flyers GM..mixed bag
        Sanheim, Provorov, Konecny, Rubstov, Patrick, Frost, Farabee, O’Brien(still @ BU)

    • Pengy, when you say “Pens are falling, flailing…. and those responsible for rectifying…. Are not doing what they need to …” has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, they’ve tried but either no one sees any value in what they’re trying to peddle or those with no trade/no movement clauses nixed deals that had them going where they don’t want to go?

      Yesterday, WestBrantKid posted “It’s hard to let go of fan favourites, but I think the Pens future would be best served if they sold off their core for big returns and started a rebuild now. Otherwise, I see a limbo in their next 5 years of trying to make the playoffs but not really getting anywhere.”

      Perhaps it is time to recognize a bleak 3 or 4 years ahead and start to do what needs to be done to begin building up a recognizable prospect pool. Melnyk and Dorion took that plunge when they decided it was time to move out Karlsson, Stone, Hoffman, Duchesne, Turris and others.

      I mean, really, you can postulate all the convoluted trade scenarios you like, complete with rationales as to why it would be “advantageous” for receiving teams to take on the dead weight you’d like to see dumped … but I think you know it isn’t going to happen.

      Do you truly believe that Sid’s “loyalty” and Malkin’s, Letang’s and Gueuntzel’s “love” of Pittsburgh – and vice versa – will inspire them to hang on for their final years in a slowly decaying franchise? That just doesn’t make sense for anyone concerned.

      • When I say, above “or those with no trade/no movement clauses nixed deals that had them going where they don’t want to go?” – aside from Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Guentzel, who they probably aren’t thinking of trading (at this time anyway), the ones I had in mind were Zucker M-NTC; Rust – NMC; Carter – 35+NMC; Petry – M-NTC NMC; and Dumoulin – M-NTC.

        Even without those clauses I don’t see anyone anxious to acquire any of them by giving up anything significant.

      • Hi George

        You missed my point

        I’ve posted several times that no trade movements from within…. Waive/call up replacement…. definitely improves team

        Sit defensive problems… zero cost (cash, cap, futures)

        These have not been done until yesterday…. Waiving Kappy; Friedman up

        That lack of “doing their jobs is why Pens are in the outside looking in

        Kappy re-up at that hit…. Wrong at the time; wrong now

        The entry draft…. Losing McC for nothing (in reality)..,, ouch

        Re-up Carter…. Wrong then; wrong now

        Petry and Rutta to replace Matheson and Marino (getting older and slower as a team in the move) to save a massive $275 K in cap and gain Smith (who Sully refuses to play)?????

        That is what I’m talking about

        These were in the coach’s and GM’s control….. very costly

        The future is not bright for Pens

        Had sully done his job and dressed the best available squad every game; and sat players when they were being costly…. at the very minimum , Pens have 70 points now…. Still tough to imagine catching Rangers (not likely) ; but they’d be secure in WC spot; with options to go after term players that MAY have got them battling to catch Rangers; and players then that would be on roster for next year

        Poor coaching decisions; poor GM decisions; followed by inactivity/apathy by GM…. Has Pens right where they are now….. no mans land with a bleak future

        Next 4 games (before TDL)

        Today @ Blues
        Tomorrow host Bolts
        Tues @ Predz
        Thurs @ Bolts

        Here is what I’d do…. Next 3 games

        waive Dumo; sit Ruhweedel; play Friedman and Smith

        If they get 2 points or less in those 3 games; and Sabres and Wings get at least 4 over that timeframe…. Sell sell sell

        If somehow Pens get 6 points (I dream)..,. Term acquisition trade only …. 3C upgrade; adress roster off season

        Otherwise…. Ride out season not playing Kappy; Dumo; Ruhweedel; should get in… out first round; moves after season

      • The pens can’t sell off their core, they all have no movements, they don’t want to go anywhere else. Stupid suggestion. Hextall is the problem. When the core, I.e. Crosby, Malkin, Rakell, rust, Guentzel, Letang are all signed way below market value then you should have an edge on filling out your bottom six and defense depth. Hextall brought in Carter who looks like he’s 58 not 38, Kappy for two years over six million, McGuin four years at nearly 3 mil per and Heinen at another million these mistakes start adding up. Worst thing that ever happened was when Rutherford bailed. A hot mess.

      • Ed Van Impe “The pens can’t sell off their core, they all have no movements, they don’t want to go anywhere else. Stupid suggestion.”

        Of course they can now that the core realize they could be in for miserable times over their remaining years and will gladly get the Hell out of town if presented with a potential deal and location they like. Stupid observation.

    • Absolutely agree with this. But you failed to mention the horrible goaltending they have at the moment as well. Also, I know many people pointing out the signings of Malkin and Letang but does anyone not realize what they spent on Rust and have got nothing close in production to go along with that. They have so many overpaid compared to results players anymore and I can sadly say the playoff streak is over. Even if it isn’t, if they manage to steal a wild card spot they will be at best a 5 game playoffs because they can’t compete with Boston or Carolina this year. It’s time for huge sell out and I do think Sullivan and Hextall also have worn out their welcomes as well. At this point bring back Bylsma and see if breathes life back into the team.

    • The Pen’s & Caps are going through the same thing with a Under Performing Old Team…

      Yes both are Falling… But it the Young Teams in the East the Re-building young teams that are moving past both these teams

      The 5 young Guns teams
      NYR, Detroit, *Buffalo, *Ottawa, and*Hab’s when they get a Goaltender will All be in the playoff race with the 5 below

      The 5 Easter Powerhouses…❗️
      Bruins, Cans, NJ, Leafs, Tampa,

      The Caps Even if they try to move there 2X1st picks and prospects they are Not going any where this year or next 4-5.
      They have No Cap Room this year, Only $17.M to replace 12 UFA roster players next year the d has John Carlson & 2 young 23yr olds coming back next year ⁉️

      The Pens, as Pengy said “The patient needs major surgery, and a band-aid just won’t cut it.”
      the d is Mediocre & Old, 5 of the 8 are 31, 32, 32, & 2X35, 😳
      up front way to old

      Tristan Jarry the 27yr old is a UFA ❗️ I dont think he Re-signs with the Pens for a Re-build… I think he will look at one of the The *3 young Guns teams❓

      I think the Pen’s plan wont start till next year…..
      They may follow the Caps and start to build up picks but who knows with Hexi-Burke Combo they are probley out in the Barn Fighting it out right now…. you have to live in Alberta to get this one…😂

      Sid to the Avs to play w his Besti for the playoffs 2023/4..🔥


    • Pengy

      Kappi. A blue. So pens have a little cap space

      • Yes saw that

        Now waive Dumo and Ruhweedel !!!!

  2. Again…. Parros inconsistency

    This week (aside from so many he didn’t even act on) ; his decisions

    Cross-check to face $5K
    Trip $5 K
    Elbow 2 games

    1 out of 3 done correctly …. Inconsistency just incentivizes the Wilson’s in the league… somebody’s career (maybe life) will end due to this

    • Parros is wrong person for job Need 100% objective person. Would be best with a panel of 3. 1ex player. 1 ex ref. One ex executive. See the action and vote. Majority wins

    • yeah and PK had 2 worse slews last season but got a pass.

      • They were just accidentally no??? 😂

  3. Pens fans beware, you have John Henry as owner. Just wait until he explains that signing 3 players who can score 12 goals a year is a better value than signingCrosby. Henry won championships early but now is only interested in expanding his sports empire and making as much money as possible. It will probably get much worse

    • Hi Cheese&Ej

      Your prognostications are my worst fears

      Off season; jettison Burke, Hextall; Sully is a start to a brighter future

  4. Wow. It’s all kinds of crazy in here this morning.
    Hextall isn’t to blame. He just got there. Things take time. He was wrongfully dismissed in Philly because upper management was shortsighted. He was building something good there but never got the opportunity to see it through.
    In Pittsburgh, he was left a terrible mess to clean up. Again, these things take time and patience. The club has two elite centers and an elite defenseman who are all near the end of their HOF careers. Not much else to surround them with, though. You can’t expect to trade less than middling players for first liners, so you need to rebuild the foundation, and that’s what he’s setting out to do.
    Anyway, enough of this for me. I don’t like the Pens or Hextall, but I do know right from wrong.

    • SOP

      When you resign an aging core that is owners saying keep going for it. None of those picks will do diddle do. Before the core retirement parties His strategy keeps team stuck in middle with no high end 1st rd pick or high end supporting cast
      . Either go for it or rebuild

      • We did the same thing in Boston, no? Took Sweeney a while to see the fruits of his labor. Does Hextall not deserve the same chance? I don’t get it. How can a “fan” continually bash his two “favorite ” teams? May as well just cut bait and focus all of his attention on his third favorite team, the Knights.
        Sorry, Pengy, but the constant negative rants have stark similarities to my buddy RWM.

      • Darn tootin! Pens are next years bruins!🤤

    • Giving in to both UFA stars for such term really keeps the Pens where they are until they retire.
      And adding Petry with his age and term to this old core…..they only get Zucker off the books this summer AND have to replace or resign Jarry

      did anyone think the Pens were legit to return to the finals? Sorry Pengy–Keeping Sid Geno and Letang healthy for 4 rounds of playoff hockey is nearly impossible

    • No. Hextall deserves some blame. Kapanan petry and carter deals all on him. There are certainly some things he couldn’t control. Dumo showed signs of slowing down last year but his fall off a cliff couldn’t be anticipated. Jarry is injury prone and desmith went from a good back up a couple years ago to a bad one. He might have been able to better fortify that position if he didn’t spend so much on the three mentioned above.

      He was a bad hire. He followed a burn it to the ground for a championship gm in holmgren in Philly. And botched it. So why hire him to follow a burn it to the ground for a championship gm like Rutherford in pitt?

      But the panic isn’t justified. Crosby Malkin letang still playing high level. Don’t do anything foolish this year. Try to (with a new gm) get out of your junk contracts in the offseason and go for it again next year.

      Lastly. It seems goalies are needing the assistance program more than other positions? Maybe teams, if they arnt already, could be more proactive with mental health support for that unique position.

    • Hi SOP

      Jimbo left the cupboard bare…. But Hextals trades; extensions ; and complete screw up in expansion draft …. All on him

      Roster handed to Sully is on Hextall

      Not playing the best players available every game….. all on Sully

      • Actually, it’s my point that is being missed.

        The coaches and GMs are paid top dollar to do their respective jobs … THEY are around the players constantly in practice, during games … THEY have inside knowledge of each player’s state of mind, health, along with detailed stats of how they perform against specific opposition stars, including goalies – none of which is available to us.

        Why would they deliberately put themselves and the team behind the 8-ball by not icing what they consider the best team available? It’s not like the Lemieux tank-job when the roster manipulation by Johnson was embarrassingly evident to even the most casual of fans. They could miss the playoffs … but there’s no way they can drop far enough to become a factor in the Bedard lottery.

        Did the current crew make mistakes along the way? Yes, in hindsight. But when Kapanen was signed, or Carter, or Rust or Dumoulin and handed those NT/NM clauses did anyone complain THEN that mistakes were being made? I don’t recall any indignant objections in here.

        They gave it a run for a few years – but right now this is an aging team (where their stars are concerned) surrounded by a supporting cast holding rigid clauses who simply can’t get the job done on a consistent basis. With NO viable replacement prospects in the system.

        It’s time to forget sentimentality – Chicago’s in that phase – and start exploring (in the off season – not now) what they could get for Sid, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel and start looking to the future.

        Anyone who thinks this collection is capable – with tinkering – of “going for it” one more time next season is dreaming in technicolor.

      • Actually the Kapanan signing was pretty much universally panned. And carters had plenty of detractors.

      • Agree George,

        Even the Re-signing of Malkin , Letang and Rackell were met with more “ata boy” than criticism. Regardless of the past few years of 1st round exits.

        I kept saying that using this same model was the “definition of insanity “ which was met with a lot with a lot of opposing arguments.

        The inability to not see the writing on the wall that this team simply isn’t good enough to compete is mind boggling.

        They certainly aren’t built for a long playoff run. And now fans are screaming for Hextalls head, and at the same time praying for Chychrun?

        Another Pringle in the can is the last thing Pittsburgh needs. Frail, aging core.

        Trading Malkin, Letang should have been the priority last year. Not adding pieces like Rackell, Petry etc.

        Throwing in the towel a few points out of the playoffs isn’t a bad thing when you know you’re not getting anywhere.

      • Hi George


        “ Why would they deliberately put themselves and the team behind the 8-ball by not icing what they consider the best team available? ”

        That’s the $B question

        Loyalty to Dumo and Ruhweedel ??? Kappy?? Etc etc

        No idea why…. But he DOES send those guys out ; and also let’s them log waaaaay too many minutes….. Sully only benched Dumo after being in ice for 6 (I’m counting the McD penalty shot goal; as he would have scored) Oil goals. He finally had Ruhweedel in the press box for one game last week (after again many errors in 1 game AND told 7 [seven] times in one game that he was on the wrong side….. again!!!!!) only to have Sully lay the entire blame of the next game on Ruhweedel’s replacement Friedman??? Makes no sense at all

        He could have played Smith and Friedman in place of Dumo and Ruhweedel at any time…… Sully just refuses to field his best team

        He also has played Carter between McG and Kappy, over and over and over again…. Brutally failing…. With better options on the roster

        The why is anybody’s guess

        The fact is…. Sully did, and it has cost wins

        Sully was a great coach. He has lost his touch (maybe the room as well)

        We’ll see how the next 3 games play out

      • Re “Sully just refuses to field his best team …”

        We can debate until the cows come home, but in the end, an observation like that amounts to no more than one distant outsider’s opinion.

        What is there to suggest that the players you name would do a better job than the ones you think should be dumped? Are there substantive stats to suggest this is the case? If so, where?

        I fully understand the frustration that can build up when the team(s) you follow deteriorate – Lord knows I’ve had enough of it with the Senators. So naturally, we bitch and complain – but really, if any of us were infallible “experts” we would have had NHL jobs by now.

        NO coach is going to cut his own throat by knowingly keeping better players out of the line-up … they, whether Sullivan in Pittsburgh or Smith in Ottawa – clearly believe that their decisions are the correct ones.

        And if the GMs don’t move to can them, then they obviously agree … after all, it was they who brought the players in in the first place.

        And then you have the same scenario with ultimate authority – the owners – who could fire them both. But don’t (admittedly, that prospect is a tad murky in Ottawa right now).

      • In all fairness George, he may not be a nhl head coach, but he did stay in a holiday inn express last night.

      • Hi George

        No ifs and or buts …. Sully is dressing Dumo and Ruhweedel when better D is available

        Dumo has 3 games this season where he has been on for 5 goals against

        Ruhweedel …. 2

        All 8 other “NHL” D know they’re left from their right. EVERY game this season Ruhweedel goes to the wrong side multiple times

        Sully finally sat him (just 1 game) after he was told 7 different times in the same game that he was on the left side

        Again…. No idea the reason; but he (Sully)definitely does not dress the best available roster…. Just a little reminder re JJ…. Same old same old

    • I can’t buy your argument, SOP. Didn’t Hextall decide before the season began that he was going to give it one more go with his big guns? Didn’t he just resign Malkin and Letaing to lengthy extensions?
      They will both be 40 when their contracts end.

      Hextall has never been successful as a senior executive anywhere. Correct me, but didn’t Bobby Clarke say that Hextall chose Patrick when all the Philly scouts wanted Makar?

      A team’s results involve many but Hextall hasn’t been successful in LA, or Philly and it looks like he has already made his mark on the Pens.

      • SOP: I have no idea why my reply at 2:09pm got buried so far away from your 11:00am comment.

    • SOP: if this is a double reply please ignore, as my reply to your 11:00am post 10 minutes ago appeared and then disappeared.

      Hextall decided to extend Malkin and Letaing until they are 40, did he not? So he has already made a significant decision on the Pens.

      Hextall has done poorly as an exec in LA and in Philly. Didn’t Bobby Clarke say Hextall chose Nolan Patrick when all the Philly scouts wanted Makar? That’s one decision, but a telling one.

      • Hi, LJ. 6 million per year for Malkin and Letang is still money well spent if the directive is to compete for a cup. Their resumes speak for themselves.
        In LA, Hextall was the A GM who helped them to a cup victory.
        In Philly he was building a team but the old boys didn’t like the fact that he wouldn’t listen to them, and to be fair, who would? What did they win with Clarke at the helm?
        Lastly, I don’t believe half of the lies that Bob Clarke tells. It was Heiskanen that Phillys scouts targeted not Makar. Tough choice either way, a great big center with good skill or a puck moving defenseman.
        Again, I just might be wrong on my position here, but I think Hextall is a good GM who needs some time to pull his vision together.

  5. Fans should realize that the Pens were a pretty done deal being a cup contender for over 20yrs. The won a cup with Crosby early then two more years later.
    Their current state is due to not being able to build up and hold on to enough depth in their system due to years of being a contending team. They are flushed out and only time and really smart/clever moves will bring them back to contention.
    Is the current management able of this? We’ll find out but I suspect yes.

    • Not sure I’d consider them cup contenders for 20 years.

      Last 20 years (not counting this one)

      Missed playoffs 4 times
      1st round exits 8
      2nd round exits 3
      Lost cup 1 time.
      Won cup 3 times

      More than 50% of the last 20 years was a 1st round exit or miss entirely.

      Any expectation over the last 3-4 years? Nothing more than optimistic “anything can happen if you get in”.

      That optimism was shut down each year with a 1st round exit.

      • As a leaf fan I’ll take…

        Missed playoffs 4 times
        1st round exits 8
        2nd round exits 3
        Lost cup 1 time.
        Won cup 3 times…

        In a MF’n heartbeat but ya, it was time for the Pens to rebuild 2 years ago.

      • Not taking away from those cup runs. But 20 year contenders? I don’t think anyone has been a 20 year contender in the expansion era.

      • May have been a wrong choice of words with contender, but they have been a playoff team. You can call that a contender, but I wouldn’t.

        I agree with Ron, just the way it works when you are good for a long time. I get why teams do it and keep trying.

        Here is a # I heard on TSN radio the other day:
        The average length of a tear down rebuild to get back into playoffs is 8 years. Eight is a big number.

        Obviously examples of less, but also more, like BUF is it at 12 years, plus the decade of darkness here in EDM. Not sure how long in OTT, but been a while, likely getting close to 8? George?

        Hey likely gonna happen to the B’s as well, maybe sooner than we would like. We’ll see.

      • Yeah it was easier to call it contending but more or less a shoe in to the playoffs or even shorter would be to say really good for a long time.

        Past the semantics of my word choice, there’s a price to pay for success and to have it such a long time, is something to hang your hat on. It’s so hard to win but to sustain it as long as they had is nothing short of good work by them.

  6. Actually, Ray, not quite that long for Ottawa … yet, although I agree that – discounting some tinkering tthat worked briefly – COMPLETE re-builds don’t happen overnight.

    In the Stanley Cup playoffs of 2017, Ottawa just missed going to the finals thanks to a double-OT goal in the 7th game in Pittsburgh (who eventually won the cup against Nashville – who Ottawa would have also defeated). The next season they finished 2nd last in the East!

    That’s when Melnyk sat down with Dorion and it was decided to clean house. In September 2018 Karlsson was dealt to San Jose (primarily for Josh Norris and, through the # 1 pick they also got, Tim Stutxle).

    That was followed in June by the trade of Mike Hoffman, then Mark Stone at the 2019 trade deadline, as well as Matt Duchene, and in 2020 Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

    Much of what they received in exchange have made their way to the big club, but there are still several working their way up as the re-build finishes its 6th season.

    Whoever coined the term “Rome wasn’t built in a day” wasn’t kidding!

    • Oh, and Phaneuf in 2018 and Turris in 2019 as well. That’s 7 players who were instrumental in getting them to those 2017 finals all gone within 1-3 years.

      Many among the fan base – the ones who put players on pedestals and paint their faces in team colors and buy expensive jerseys – were horrified and vowed never to buy another ticket – and many didn’t – for a while – but as the dividends reaped through the trade began to show promise, they’ve slowly drifted back, putting different players on those pedestals.

      Me? I’ve always said nuts to sentimentality and “loyalty” – in a pro world only one thing counts: what have you done for me lately and how could the team be made better down the line through your trade.

      • Agree George,

        I don’t understand that type of sentiment when it comes to players. From fans or team management.

        Can’t stand when people think players should rot on teams in rebuild or that are just flat out terrible.

        Or complain when they’re traded away or bought out.

        It’s such a weird outlook.

        “I like you so much and you’ve meant so much to us fans we want to see you rot here and be miserable.”

        It reeks of selfishness and entitlement.

        I was happy to see guys like Leetch, Mcdonagh etc move on rather than rotting and retiring.

      • Yeah but you don’t go far treating people poorly or as assets than you do if you treat them properly as a person. I think that will hamper your organization and be to be known as such in a small obscure market like Ottawa…good luck on keeping your drafted players and signing top free agent players.

      • I would agree to treat them fairly. But at the end of the day it is a business.

        It’s in the teams best interest to do what’s best for the team. Sometimes that means moving on from a player regardless of past accolades.

        The only players in recent history who may have been mistreated by an organization are Parise and Suter by Minnesota.

        And I don’t mean for being bought out, that’s business. ( although in this particular case a questionable decision). But it’s my understanding they found out through the internet or some sort of media that they were bought out. A little honesty and transparency would have been the better move.

        Honesty and transparency go both ways. There have been plenty of instances of players refusing to sign with their draft team, requesting a trade, refusing assignment etc.

      • For every star that retired as a member of his original team, there are likely 4 or 5 who did not spend his entire career with the same team. Yes, you have the Richards and Beliveau and Trottier and Bossy – but what about Harvey and Geoffrion and Moore and Lemaire and Howe, Hull, Gretzky, Messier, Hull, Orr, Frank Mahovlich, Sundin, Alfredsson, Bourque, Roy and on and on.

        None were treated “badly” but in the end, as Captain Obvious observes, it is a business and, as in any business, the manager HAS to do what is best for the business in the long run.

        There is NO room for sentimentality.

      • That second Hull should have read Hall – as in Glenn – could add Sawchuk and Plante as well.