Some actual news! Let’s break it down:
- News is official what has been inching closer over the past few days - Rick Tocchet is now hired as the Arizona Coyotes new head coach. The Penguins moved quickly in naming Tocchet’s replacement, and it’s none other than another Pittsburgh legend: Mark Recchi.
Recchi, 49, will assume the duties handled by Tocchet, which include running the team's forwards and working closely with Sullivan on the power play. Recchi joins assistant coach Jacques Martin, recently-appointed goaltending coach Mike Buckley, and video coach Andy Saucier, on Sullivan's staff.
A Kamloops, British Columbia native, Recchi had spent the past three seasons as the Penguins' player development coach, and had recently been promoted to director of player development.
On June 26, Recchi was elected to the Hall of Fame as one of seven members of the Class of 2017
- Along the news of Tocchet’s departure is stirring up excuses for the hot takeists and dinosaurs to peek their heads out and offer some good old fashion doom ‘n gloom and backwards ideas. One particular moron, sadly with a somewhat big voice (if you can get past the partial paywall of a shrinking industry, that is) took a run at Phil Kessel. It’s not worth linking, your brain cells will try to dis-function permanently.
The jist is that Kessel can’t coincide with Mike Sullivan because Tocchet and Kessel had a good relationship, and that Phil doesn’t score enough goals and stinks.
All of this, well, this is just easier:
Mr. Cooke, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent column were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Kessel, at 49 goals since joining the Penguins, is only behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, precisely where he was brought to be. Ditto his 128 points since joining the Pens. Those 128 points tie Kessel for 22nd in the league among forwards in the past 2 seasons. You don’t get better for trading a player like that (especially one with a 25 team no-trade list).
And all this doesn’t even mention how Kessel has 45 points in 49 playoff games since joining Pittsburgh and 2 Stanley Cups in 2 seasons- including the 2016 run where he led the Pens in playoff goals and points.
It’s OK not to love Kessel’s every shift, period or even game. Kessel is a player that will dry you crazy sometimes with his style. I admit he doesn’t look like the athlete of the day is supposed to look. Maybe his belly’s just a little big or...well, I better snap out of that one too.
It’s not as OK if you can’t look at the big picture and realize that this is one of the most talented, skilled, productive players in the league and one that Sullivan is smart enough to realize helps the Pens win games...Even if that point is lost on dimwitted columunists.
Heaven help us all the year the Pens don’t actually win the Cup when Kessel’s on the team. It’s going to be this bad take times 10 from main-stream media members and the usual garbage collecting attention seekers on Pittsburgh Sports.
More attention than this deserved, but so it goes.
- In less fun news (and better reported news from an actual good journalist who we are honored to spread and link to), GM Jim Rutherford gave a dim forecast that he believes Brian Dumoulin (July 24) and Conor Sheary (August 2) will be going through with their respective arbitration cases.
“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Rutherford said.
Neither side will divulge numbers — Lewis Gross, the agent for both Dumoulin and Sheary, won’t return phone calls, text messages or emails from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — but Rutherford said the Penguins have made competitive offers.
“Probably,” Rutherford answered when asked whether he expected to go to arbitration with Dumoulin and Sheary. “Not now that they’ve filed for arbitration. We made good, solid offers. That’s not going to change.”
Usually hockey settles these before awards and bad feelings go through. Also, ideally, the Pens sign one of these guys to a longer-term contract that might keep them from a 1-2 year arbitration deal that sets a course for UFA. Like we’ve seen many times from Nick Bonino to Ben Lovejoy to Matt Niskanen to Brooks Orpik to hell even Deryk Engelland - Pens players with any sort of role/value who make it to UFA get PAID by someone, any it almost always isn’t Pittsburgh who can afford to bring them back.
This could be posturing by the usually straight-forward Rutherford, but it’s more likely a reflection that the sides are both being cautious for now. Who knows, things can change quickly with a looming arb. date, perhaps one or both sides will be more anxious to make a deal as the deadline approached.
- Rutherford also claims in the Mackey piece to be patient and biding his time for acquiring a 3rd line center. He also repeated something he’s said lately- that trades can come together in a hurry but it’s difficult to predict when the movement and action will happen. This is similar to summer 2015 when league activity looked quiet, and then boom, GMJR struck and traded Brandon Sutter to Vancouver for Bonino and signed Eric Fehr. Patience will probably be key as the Pens wait for the right time to make the transaction that will add a center to the depth chart.
- JR also repeated that there’s no rush or hurry on Matt Cullen to make his decision. This is also expected. Cullen’s signed the past 2 years in the month of August and while the rest of the players are in a hurry to snap up contracts while the cap space is free, Cullen’s in a different circumstance as he makes up his mind, consults the family and decides if he is going to play another season. Pittsburgh seems comfortable, as usual, in seeing what he wants and will react accordingly. Hopefully they get the services of Cullen again, but if not, GMJR might have more shopping to do for a depth center as well, either in the FA market or in a trade.