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Ray Shero calls out Tyler Kennedy

In rare public negative comments about a player, Penguins General Manager Ray Shero says the team is looking for forward Tyler Kennedy to "pick up his play".

Doug Pensinger

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins be tiring of Tyler Kennedy? Mike Colligan seems to think so. He points out that Ray Shero was asked about the performance of Kennedy and he had the following to say.

Reading between the lines & based on Ray Shero comments last night, starting to think Tyler Kennedy’s time with #Pens reaching critical point… Shero: "With TK, and I know the coaches have talked to him, he's a guy that needs to pick up his play and it's important for him to do so"

Shero tied this into a praising of the "identity" of how his 4th line of Craig Adams, Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale are playing.

Through 14 games Kennedy has only one goal and one assist for the Pens for the boxcar stats. It’s disappointing because Kennedy has been a regular on the second power play unit, getting an average of 1:05 per game so far this season.

Kennedy has been a fixture on the Pens third line for many years, and his play with Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal has been well-documented, dating back to the 2009 Stanley Cup winning run. Since receiving a two year-$4 million contract ($2 million per season) back in the summer of 2011, Kennedy hasn’t been as much of an impact maker, scoring just 12 goals and 35 points in 74 combined games under the start of that contract.

In the past week Shero has undertaken a bit of an early spring cleaning, dealing Ben Lovejoy and Eric Tangradi to the Ducks and Jets, respectively, for draft picks. It’s a message that he would publically call out a player, and we’ll see how it’s received. Shero’s statements alone probably don’t mean that TK should be packing his bags just yet, but he has been singled out as a guy who the team is looking for to have a better performance.

With the call-up of Beau Bennett from the minors, the Pens lines may get shuffled a little. Zach Boychuk, a former teammate in Carolina of Brandon Sutter, may be off the Evgeni Malkin/James Neal line, which means that suddenly Kennedy's spot on the third line might not be a strangehold. Boychuk is in no way an ideal conventional 3rd line player, but it wouldn't be difficult for him to replace what Kennedy has brought to the team so far this season.