Talented teams don't always make great teams. Talented teams with chemistry do make great teams. While the Penguins seem to have good chemistry, they have a structural problem that makes their chemistry superficial. Chemistry is not just about respect and friendship, it's about roles. The Penguins have a role problem. Geno is the best player in the world, in his mind and many others. Sid is the best player in the world, in his mind and others. They play the same position. Any team featuring both of them will win alot of games. But when you have 2 of the top players in the game, plus 2 more in the top 15, it's not about winning games, it's about championships. Can the Pens win another championship with both? What worked once won't work again, esp. 5 years later. It's a looming problem financially but at present it's a problem of priorities. Do you prefer one over the other? Which one should play on the power play half wall? Which one do you put in during crunch time? Which one do you play out of position? Because these guys are top dogs, they notice and magnify every slight. They may know enough not to bitch publicly, but it bothers them and may lead to less effective play. Malkin can lay claim to this team being his, just as much as Sid. But when Sid is around, Malkin cedes that leadership and his play suffers, maybe not in total points but in when he scores them and the childish penalties he takes.
With the emergence of Jordan Staal, the Pens now have what looks like 3 #1 centers and 2 more potential captains. Whose team is it? Well it's Sid's team, provided he's not injured. But when Sid was out, Malkin led the team, and Jordan Staal emerged as a solid #2 man. They didn't miss a beat. Sid comes back, they go on a winning streak, score bunches of goals, and everything gets out of whack. They think they can just show up and beat teams. The coach piles all the egos onto the 1st power play unit and SH goals become commonplace.They downplay their weakness in the lower 6 and the bottom 4 with their arrogant trade deadling posturing. They tune out the coach and even role players start to try risky plays. The grinders don't grind, the checkers don't check. They get out runned and gunned convincingly by a team of unproven rookies, a certain 39 year old and a daft goalie.
Let's face it: Geno or Sid needs to go. Jordan needs to be the #2. Not as an overreaction to the recent exit, but because of reality: the economy's not getting any better. The cap is going down. Plus, the talent that can come in return. Another elite scorer on the wing, a top 3 Dman who isn't softer than margarine. A true 3rd line center who is paid as such (think Talbot at 1.9 over Kennedy at 2.0). A higher 1st rd draft pick.
Dan Bylsma is not a good enough coach to handle that many egos. Not many coaches are. Ray Shero is not a good enough GM to find the forwards through the draft to complement Sid and Geno. Not many GMs are. But he is good enough to convince a number of NHL franchises to overpay for the best player in the world, esp. if it's Sid the Kid.
It's easy not to trade Sid. It's easy to have faith in what worked once under unique circumstances four years ago. It's easy to blame injuries. It's easy to wait until the Pens actually collapse in the regular season to fire the coach or look for changes. By then, of course it will be too late. But then we can take the easy way and blame the players, instead of those who are paid millions of dollars to see the future and shape it to their benefit. And the future just went up 3-0 on us, embarrassed us in 6, and is advancing to the 2nd round.
Oh and trade Martin for peanuts.