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Shero on Malkin, Letang: ‘They’re not going anywhere’

Jun 12, 2013, 11:49 AM EDT

Ray Shero Getty Images

For Penguins general manager Ray Shero, what promises to be a busy summer started with today’s announcement that head coach Dan Bylsma had been granted a two-year contract extension.

Now that the coaching question is out of the way, it’s time to focus on the players. And there are plenty of tough decisions to make on that front.

“This team is going to change,” said Shero. “It happens every year with free agency, salary cap, trades. Change is sometimes good and sometimes hard.”

Pending unrestricted free agents that may or may not be back include Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Craig Adams, Mark Eaton and Douglas Murray. Those eligible to sign extensions include Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, and Matt Niskanen.

Speaking of Malkin and Letang…

“They’re both under contract for next year,” said Shero. “They’re not going anywhere.”

And the goaltending?

“I’m not getting rid of Marc-Andre Fleury,” said Shero, “provided he wants to be part of it here and come back.”

The Penguins also have Tomas Vokoun under contract next season. Fleury has two years remaining on his deal.

Shero said he’s already received calls from other general managers. He can probably expect a lot more as the June 30 draft approaches. Free agency starts on July 5.

Related: Would the Penguins really consider trading Malkin?

  1. burgh916 - Jun 12, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Welp… Time to expect failure for the next few years.
    Fleury is our main problem, then it was Bylsma’s system, and unable to adjust on the fly.
    Get rid of the problem.

    • GH - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Funny – Bylsma’s system wasn’t getting any complaints when we were dismantling Ottawa….

      Also its interesting that the two periods Fleury played manage to get us swept against Boston….

      There are problems with this team but its not just that cut and dry – you can’t excise those two pieces and then everything is fine. Let’s play a game: you’re Ray Shero and it sounds like you would ditch Bylsma and Flerury as your first move – fair enough. Then answer these two questions:
      1) Who is your head coach next season?
      2) What do you do about your goaltending considering your only goalie with Pro experience has 1 year left on his deal and is 35+, with no one in the pipeline?

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Hold on GH! Are you telling us Sens were as strong as the B’s? Don’t measure the quality of your team against the weakest of the 2. B’s being the better than Sens means you have to measure the team’s performance against them. Why did they flop miserably? What good is it if a team like the Pens don’t make it to the final dance? To me that spells failure. BTW, a two year extension is not a huge vote of confidence. A five year extension would have been that.

      • GH - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        No of course I’m not saying that the B’s and Sens were on an even playing field – especially when you consider the play of Rask vs. the play of Anderson – but that’s my point. Everyone is saying that “Bylsma failed us against the B’s” which I don’t disagree with in some respects. But it was also Bylsma’s system that got us TO the series with the B’s.

        People overly simplify coaching in that respect – Bylsma couldn’t get us past the B’s seems to be the Mantra. Really? Because even with the 4 straight losees, he’s 6-4 against them across the last 10 meetings. I think people are placing too much blame at Bylsma’s feet, and not giving credit where it is due – to the outstanding goaltending by Rask, the fantastic play of the B’s team defense, and a couple of unfortunate bounces (posts, going over Letand and TK’s stick on wide open chances).

        Look, I agree that anything short of a Cup final this year was going to be a dissapointment. That’s certain. But to term the season an abject failure, and then to make wholesale changes after having an extremely strong season is not the right answer either. That’s how you end up firing good coaches. Look at the Wings. They’ve had sustained success and while Bylsma is not Hancock and Shero is not Holland, its still pays to have consistency. You’ve still got to put yourself in a position to win a cup, before you go out and do it.

        Sorry rant over.

      • bruininnh1984 - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        though i do agree with most of your points, it’s a shame those 4 losses in the last 10 were in the ECF’s. being perennial cup contenders is a good position to be in. it makes you attractive to potential free agents and you have a lot of assets that could be potential trade bait for either high profile players or high draft picks.

      • burgh916 - Jun 12, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        “Funny – Bylsma’s system wasn’t getting any complaints when we were dismantling Ottawa….”

        That’s exactly why he wasn’t get any complaints. Because we WERE dismantling Byslma, why complain when you’re winning so easily?
        Here’s the deal though. He was deservedly getting complaints when Fleury was single-handily ruining our playoff hopes in the first round. He fixed it by putting Vokoun in. The team plays insanely better in front of Vokoun, they have the confidence in him to make that key save. You could play the best defense in front of Fleury and some of the worst timed goals will still happen. The Boston series, they pulled Vokoun far too early in Game 2, we finally score. What happens? A soft wrister on his first shot of the game goes in, momentum ruined. Nothing new there.
        Last season he had a .916 save percentage. He was ranked 29th in the league (well, really about the low 20’s if you take out the goalies who only played a few games)

        The year before that, .913. 41st in the league. (minus some backup goalies, about 30th in the league)

        The year before that .918 for 27th (minus a few more backups maybe 18th in the league)

        Fleury’s save percentage these playoffs, .883, Vokoun’s .933.

        Lets not forget Vokoun Vokoun was 13-4 in the regular season, and at one point was 16-2 in his last 18 games. He’s more than capable of carrying a team, he’s done it for YEARS.
        Fleury has had possibly 1 decent season out of his 10, that’s not impressive at all. Cup aside, you can’t base someones entire credibility on a cup win.
        Moving onto another issue – Fleury’s cap is ridiculous for an underachiever. 5.75 mil, cut me a break. If Fleury took a pay cut to 1.5mil I’d say that’s okay and to keep him as a BACKUP. Which lies the next issue, he causes drama in the locker room. Not necessarily Fleury himself, he’s a good guy. But, the media, constantly berating the backups that are playing better than him, to “Put Fleury back in!” Some people just have to let it go, its entirely not fair to the goalies playing better than him.
        To answer your question though, Eakins would have been nice, Lindy Ruff would have been a good fit here, even Stevens from LA could have provided some toughness to our roster.
        Bylsma makes 0 in game adjustments, after getting swept you’d think at least once he would switch up the game plan. But no, he is too stubborn, once we are figured out its over, it’s been the case for far too many playoffs.
        The goalie situation, Vokoun is more than capable to carry the workload, if we don’t get anyone decent out of a Fleury trade, I would call up Thiessen, or sign an FA, or even have Hartzell be mentored by Vokoun until it’s his time to go. There’s so many options that don’t have to involve Fleury who is just in there to collect wins from an offense scoring 6 a game.

        Hope that cleared it up for you ;).

      • GH - Jun 12, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        Your diatribe about Fleury vs. Vokoun was well put together and factually correct. It also COMPLETELY missed the point. Vokoun hasn’t been a full time starter in a couple of years and will be 38 this coming year. If you say “he can carry the load” that’s fine but I would say that goalies not named Marty tend not to have the strongest success in their late 30s. But even if you’re right and he can handle it – do you think he can when he’s 39 just one year away? Because I’m sorry you’re nuts if you think Hartzell, Zatkoff, or Thiessen (LOL by the way that you even MENTIONED him) are going to be ready to carry the load in a year you’re wrong.

        Also as far as “getting something for Fleury possibly in a trade” YOU LITERALLY JUST LISTED ALL OF THE REASONS WHY NO ONE IS GOING TO GIVE UP ANYTHING OF VALUE FOR HIM. If you want to buy him out that’s fine, but you can’t trade him for anything, and if you do buy him out, you’re placing next season entirely in the hands of an 38 y/o goal tender who had injury issues the last time he tried to be a full-time starter, and then three guys who have seen 0 or minimal NHL action. Uhnothankyou.

        As for coach, Eakins would have been a decent hire, but he’s not available anymore. I would also like to see if we could get Hancock, but generally speaking coaches with contracts fall into the “tough hire” category. Lindy Ruff’s system would NOT have been a good fit here, because our defensemen (both at the NHL level and in the minors) are not the types to run his system. As for Richards from LA, I can honestly say that I don’t know much about him, so I will reserve judgement on that selection – could be a good fit. As for Bylsma making no adjustments to the game plan – I agree to an extent, however the execution by the Pens was piss poor. They were literally running into each, even on the powerplay, and NO one was driving to the net at any point in time (which is a part of Bylsma’s game plan – stretch passes to get the puck deep, off winger crashes and forechecks to win the puck. When you come with speed through the NZ, off winger drives hard at the net to take the D with him – just straight up wasn’t happening).

        So in summary, your solutions seem to be:
        1) Hire a coach who works for another team, hire a coach who’s system doesn’t fit our personell whatsoever, or hire a coach who I have neverr heard of (admittedly, he could be a good fit – I would need to take a look).
        2) Buyout Fleury (because you would get NOTHING for him in a trade) and roll with a 38 y/o goaltender and then one of three guys who have never seen NHL action…. no thank you.

        So no, you didn’t clear anything up.

      • GH - Jun 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM

        One more thing in support of Bylsma – Joel Quenville and Claude Julien were very recently on the chopping block. Sometimes showing a little faith and lighting a fire can pay big dividends.

        Also since I criticized your plan on goaltending but didn’t offer my own, here’s what I would do:
        – True goalie tandem during the regular season between Fleury and Vokoun. In an ideal world the split is around 55-45 in whoever is playing better’s favor. When you get to playoff time you roll with your guy. If its Fleury then fine, and if he stinks it up you yank him for Vokoun – just like this year. Goaltending wasn’t why we lost the Bruins series.
        – Next year you survey the possible UFA tenders (guys like Hiller, Peters, Varlamov, Halak/Elliot, etc.) and you reassess where you stand.
        – Most importantly, you start looking at acquiring your next goal tender now…. I’m not saying my solution is perfect because it isn’t, but I’m also not cutting off my nose to spite my face in the short term by ruining the already shaky goaltending of a team that just made it to the Conference finals.

        Now seriously, rant over.

  2. bardown66 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    I agree fleury should pr

  3. jpelle82 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    ugh. i was really hoping to see letang traded on or by june 30. dont see how he is gonna make this work, unless one of the two (malkin or letang) take a low cap hit for the first couple years while he short lists guys like kunittz, dupuis, cooke…but then you will have an untradeable high cap number down the road for letang.

    • Kristenaux - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM

      The man said Malkin & Letang aren’t going anywhere. That works for me. As for Letang appreciating, so he will. I don’t have a problem with that either. I recall a time in the not too distant past when people were pounding the death drum when they thought Stall would be traded. And…?

    • GH - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      You also have to look at what preceded that statement though: “Their contracts run through next season, so they aren’t going anywhere.” My guess is that they’re not going to keep BOTH long-term unless they can work some cap magic. More likely, one of them walks in FA and I’d bet my bottom dollar it will be Letang packing up and not Malkin. Lemieux loves Geno and wants him to be in PIttsburgh for his career – he’s said as much.

  4. bardown66 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I agree fleury should probably go. He isn’t te main issue. They need to let despres and Dumoulin play next year. Bigger talented defenseman that can skate. It will alleviate a lot of issues. I love mark eaton and Murray but they are past there expiration. If they can be more conservative and insulate fleury it’ll be fine. I know most of the team can adapt to a more structured approach, even Malkin IMO. Lack of accountability has been disturbing, totally shocked Mario has stepped in and dropped the hammer. Model th redwings, talented, but they have a nice balance.

  5. burgh916 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    This organization is just so annoying. These guys really stunk it up, but they sit here an praise them. They shouldn’t get praised, sometimes they need to know that their game has got to change.
    This attitude reminds me of kids nowadays, everyone gets an award for participating. Give me a break.
    I feel Shero is thinking “Well, maybe next year we won’t deal with a good playoff team.”
    Because that’s how he’s acting. I, as a fan can’t take him seriously anymore. The team has been cup favorites ever since they won a cup and have consistently been failing miserably in the playoffs. Yet nothing is changed.

  6. jpelle82 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    his statement doesnt mean jack though i guess, all he said was they are under contract til the end of next year. he may just mean neither are going anywhere…until the trade deadline next season…though i hope the pens wont be selling then. i also hope if he doesnt get them extended he does get something in return for them…would be one of the worst gm moves in history to just let them go for free after next year.

    • orangandblack - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      Exactly!! My only question, as much as it pains me as a die hard Flyers fan to admit, we all know the Pens are going to, at the VERY least, be in playoff contention next year. So if (when) the Pens are in a good spot at next year’s deadline, do they hold on to both for a cup run, or try to trade one away for some young talent and draft picks? (assuming he doesn’t somehow get them both new deals before then)

    • killerpgh - Jun 12, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      Malkin (or any player with 1 or more years remaining of the current contract) can’t official sign a contract until the official start of the season of the final year of the contract. Next season starts July 5th this year. Malkin has a NMC that kicks in that same day. So unless Malkin is willing to waive that right that Shero gave him a trade would need to happen before July 5th if Shero feels he cant resign Malkin.

  7. guinsrule - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    How in the world can go into another playoffs with a goaltender who nobody has confidence in? If he gives up a couple of soft goals in the first period of game one, you’re screwed…again. I like Vokoun, but I don’t think you want to go into another playoffs where he’s your only option.

    • killerpgh - Jun 12, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Well MAF did post a shutout in the first game of they years playoffs and you see where that got him…..

  8. myspaceyourface - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    They made one bad choice by extending Danny Boy.

    Hopefully, this isn’t the type of foundation they are building the future on.

  9. pastabelly - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    It’s funny. Lucic admitted that when the Bruins were down 4-1 in game 7 against Toronto, he envisioned the whole team being broken up because a fix may have been in order. That team played with a desperation. We are not seeing that in Pittsburgh. They love the whole lot of them, despite the meltdowns against the Flyers and Bruins..

  10. hockeyflow33 - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Wait didn’t all the media experts tell us he was gone?

  11. malkinrulez - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    GH I agree . In games 3 and 4 Pens played well but couldn’t solve Rask. That is the great thing about hockey, Boston played great and deserves some credit. If Pens played the way they did against Philly last year I would say it’s time for a change.

  12. danaking - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    The major problem in the Boston series–apart from a failure to appear in Games 1 and 2, was Bylsma’s inability to get the team to adjust to whatever changes Julien made for the series after getting swept in the regular season. Let’s see how Chicago does offensively against Boston, if Quenneville has any answers.

    My fantasy was for Shero to make no decisions until the Finals had least started. If the Hawks score six goals in a game, or average 3+ for the series, then Byslma could pack his bags. If not, then Julien has something special going on up there.

  13. ewoods6 - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Flower shouldn’t go anywhere.

    Dan shuldn’t go any where either.

    The Coaching staff can;t score a goal. Sid, Geno, Neal and Iginla were all off the score sheet for 4 straight games. Your Coach plans your work but it is the player’s job to execute the plan. The Boston series is ALL on the players.

    You give Flower this last chance. It is abvious that the playoffs have been his issue, he will win 40 games again, like the last 2-3 years, and get you the #1 seed, if he falls on his face again in the playoffs, you have Vokoun there to do what he did and what he was brought in to do then Flower goes with 1 more year on his deal remaining.

    We didn’t get bounced from the playoffs from Coaching or Goaltending, we got bounced from LACK OF OFFENSE. Yet, people want to focus on what didn’t put us out.

    Yea, makes so much sense.

    • pensfanintx - Jun 12, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      EXACTLY!!!

      You and I are the only ones with this same train of thought! How many other teams wished they had gotten as far as the Pens did!

      As much as I love Flower, (and it pains me to say this) he needs to know that he has to figure out a way to get his nerve back in the playoffs or else.

  14. spitfisher - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Shero has chosen his words wisely, it is in the next weeks & months that season ticket holders will be sent their packages for next year…..

    what else could he have said?

    BTW signing a coach for 2 more years, really doesn’t mean anything, they’re only as good as their last win.

  15. papajack1259 - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I hope those with faith in me aren’t like these two. with faith like that Fleury will not play another game.
    Byslama better perform next year he dips he is gone baby gone

  16. jacketsfan7 - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Alright but at least get the rid of fleury

  17. steelers88 - Jun 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    I can understand why a lot of people hate the Pittsburgh Penguins I realized today that they are actually a pretty arrogant organization from top to bottom.

    • cheesesteak75 - Jun 12, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      How is giving their coach an extension and saying they are keeping their core players arrogant?

  18. tripps3 - Jun 12, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Yawn. I guess they had to fulfill their Penguins story quota for the day. Almost done – just 20 more to go today

  19. hockeyfan28 - Jun 12, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    The 2014 Penguins look like their going to be Crosby, Letang, Malkin, and a bunch of AHL call ups since
    those three guys will be a 1/4 of the pens cap space

    • handsofsweed - Jun 12, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      That’s gotta be a hell of an AHL roster down there in WB-S. At least $40 million worth, by your calculations anyhow.

      • hockeyfan28 - Jun 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        Between a number 1 goalie and James Neal as well that’s another 10 million for two guys between those 5 guys that’s already 33 million in salary and you still have to find 9 NHL forwards and 5 other NHL caliber defensemen and a backup goalie and have salary cap space left over to trade for someone in case of an injury not as easy you make it out to be without getting a bunch of people to sign league minimum deals or farm system call ups

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