The Pittsburgh Penguins met Sunday one more time to talk to the media and take care of breakdown day details, let's jump into some nuggets of what we learned.
In "news almost too dumb to report" both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are happy as Penguins and want to stay for next year and beyond. Anything further is baseless rumor-mongering. On one hand, sad that the team and players even have to confirm it, but on the other hand, it's reassuring that they are going to consider anything drastic (and probably harmful) when it comes to a major roster shakeup for next season.
Pens CEO and President David Morehouse says that GM Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Johnston (plus all his assistants) will be back for a second season next year, also contrary to the rumor mill. This seems to be mostly positive, since all did relatively good jobs, injuries not withstanding.
Going back down to Wilkes-Barre for their playoff run will be forward Scott Wilson and defensemen Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin and Taylor Chorney. (The Pens had sent Scott Harrington back on Friday, as well). Talk about a big-time upgrade for them. Hopefully a long playoff run is in store for them.
Crosby is set to join Team Canada for the World Championships. No word yet about Malkin, but I would expect him to join the Russian team as well. Marc-Andre Fleury is not expecting to go, being as Canada already has named 2 goalies to their team.
Nice to see Olli Maatta upbeat about next season. "I'll be ready for next season, for sure," the young defenseman said. After a year that saw 2 shoulder surgeries, the mumps and a thyroid cancer diagnosis and successful removal, no player is probably looking forward to next season more.
Christian Ehrhoff confirmed he had a setback from his concussion when he started skating last week and wouldn't have been close to play. He said the generic, typical "I would like to stay but we haven't really talked yet" so we'll see if anything comes of it. If he was willing to do a one-year deal last summer, perhaps he would again? Who knows, it might work to the Penguins benefit that he was injured for contract negotiations since surely not a lot of teams are going to be tossing out big-money, multi-year deals to a defenseman in his mid-30s with a recent history of concussions.
Kris Letang says he is feeling pretty good and looking forward to next season, even though he confirmed he was not going to play again this post-season. He showed no hesitation about playing next season and thinks he will be fine going forward. He didn't blame Shane Doan for the season-ending hit, which was pretty big of him.
Rob Scuderi thinks he personally had a solid and consistent season, and hasn't thought about being bought out, which I have no problem with. But hopefully he does get bought out.
Johnston pointed to the March 14th game against Boston as a turning point in the season with the team playing good up to that point (And only 3 points back of 1st place in the division) but then things went south. Crosby left in pre-game warmups and Malkin got hurt that game, and Patric Hornqvist would get injured a few days later. Johnston did mention it wasn't an excuse, but thought the Pens were on the right track up until that point and it went off the rails in the final few weeks.
Johnston felt the team played more of a playoff style hockey later in the season- playing better defensively and the team in general was more comfortable in low scoring games as the season went on. Then he mentioned that their goals for also went down, which he wasn't pleased with but attributed the difficulties of scoring from the building of the defense and the puck-moving game that they are built off of.
Beau Bennett is looking forward to a summer of training and not rehabbing for once. He also left social media to avoid the negative reaction of fans.
David Perron said he injured his ribs in a game against Buffalo but it wasn't a huge injury. There wasn't much more in the way of injuries revealed that we didn't know about, aside from the usual bumps and bruises that always happen in a long NHL season.