What a debacle. What a pitiful end to such a promising season. Yes, I know there’s one at least game left, but it’s merely a formality at this point. Dan Bylsma has lost the team. The players aren’t even bothering to pretend like they care about defensive responsibility anymore. The problem is from top to bottom and it’s time to clean house. I think it’s too early to call for Bylsma’s head, but that won’t be far off.
I’m honestly not sure who to blame at this point. Is it Bylsma’s fault for not reining in his players? Is it the players’ fault for not adhering to the system and playing some goddamn defense for a change? Or is it Ray Shero’s fault for not properly structuring the roster? I suspect there isn’t one single point of failure, but in the interest of figuring this out, I’m going to start at the top.
Let’s take a look at exactly how good of a job Ray Shero has actually done since taking over, beginning with the draft.
HELL YEAH WE FUCKING SUCK!
Absolutely fucking pathetic. I don’t know any other way to describe it. The warning signs were there, but even I never thought it would be this bad. Seriously, how did the entire fucking team forget how to play defense? Quit standing around, clear the god damn puck, quit turning it over and quit letting everyone just skate right the fuck past you. It’s not that fucking hard.
TRADE EVERYONE, FIRE EVERYONE, FUCK THIS SHIT
Finding the capacity to hate someone usually isn’t a difficult task for me, especially if that person wears the Flyers’ orange and black. I generally have vast reserves of untapped hatred available at a moment’s notice, and it doesn’t take much for me to unleash that. It’s like flipping a switch. Take for instance Danny Briere, I didn’t feel particularly strongly about him one way or the other when he played for Buffalo, but the second he put on a Flyers sweater he became loathsome despicable scum-sucking vermin. Chris Pronger is another great example, I always hated Pronger for being a dirty, smug cheapshotting prick, but once he signed with Philly my animosity became almost pathological. Eric Lindros, Bobby Clarke, Keith Primeau, Scotty Hartnell, etc etc will all forever be odious pieces of shit. But for some reason I am having a really difficult time hating Max Talbot.
The only way to get rid of a troll like Milbury is to stop reacting when he does stupid shit to get attention. And, please make no mistake, that’s all he’s doing.
First, we all need to realize that NBC doesn’t put him on TV so that we the fans can benefit from his unique insight into the game. His credentials as an expert are dubious at best. He traded Zdeno Chara for Alexei Yashin, for christsakes. It’s safe to say he doesn’t know shit about hockey. And as incompetent as they may be, even NBC has to recognize that. But it doesn’t matter to them. The only reason they trot him out there is to be a third rate Don Cherry wannabe: just another meathead dinosaur that will rile people up by being as loud as he is ignorant.
The Penguins just started playing the New York Islanders, about 20 miles from my apartment as the crow flies. But here I am, sitting on my couch watching it on TV. Why, you ask? Because the Islanders could not do a better job keeping fans away from their dilapidated, crumbling hell-hole of an arena if they were trying to. Despite being located a stone’s throw from the country’s largest metropolitan center, the New York Islanders’ arena is a byzantine nightmare to access, especially for the majority of the city’s residents, who (like me) don’t have a car.
Alright Penguin fans… It’s time to hold your horses. I know the team has looked amazing lately – and I am excited too. But way too many of you are getting way too ahead of yourselves. I hate to be the one to have to do it, but it’s time for me to rain on your parade. That’s actually a lie, I love raining on parades, along with bursting/popping bubbles, killing dreams, dashing hopes and generally spreading malaise and doubt. Glorious pessimism: it’s a win-win situation. If you are wrong it’s a wonderful surprise and when you’re right at least you were prepared for the worst and can snidely say “I told you so.” (I’m a pleasant person, I swear.)
Full disclosure: I love hockey fights. I love the rage, the brutality, the “truculence,” the toughness, the blood and the blatant disregard for health and general well-being. Fighting is an integral part of the game. It’s not just entertaining, it also serves a purpose. It might be barbaric and akin to letting the inmates run the asylum, but when a punk like Scotty Hartnell get his face ground into the ice for trying to go at one of the Penguins best players, it’s damn sure satisfying to watch. It definitely seems like a more just punishment than sending him to the box for a couple minutes.
That being said, the game is changing. I think that banning fighting outright is absolutely out of the question, but after what happened this summer with Belak, Rypien and Boogaard, something has to give. The more we find out about the damage caused by head trauma, the scarier things get. Boogaard’s case was especially worrisome. It’s not a huge logical leap to implicate the brain damage he suffered from fighting as a contributor to (if not the cause of) his substance abuse issues that led to his early demise. Bob Probert’s posthumous diagnosis of CTE is another extremely frightening example. It’s hypocritical of the league to posture as if it cares about preventing brain injuries and concussions due to head shots while still condoning fighting.
So what can be done?