Kyle Dubas met with the media on Monday for one of his regular, intermittent talks about how things are going. The current time is a tough one for the Pens; after a positive 8-4-1 November that had them on the verge of digging out of an early hole, they’re right back in the danger zone by starting December winless in the first four games (0-2-2).
As confident and positive as ever, Dubas offered his thoughts and takes on the team at the moment. You can view the whole thing here:
For all the fan consternation over tiring of the Mike Sullivan era, the Penguins’ general manager isn’t of that mind when he praised Sullivan and mentioned
“As soon as a team doesn’t reach its potential, it seems that right away the attention shifts to coaching,” Dubas said. “What I would say to that is, with Sully, I had my impression of him coming in and my respect for him coming in - being with him every day and not only seeing his attention to detail on the systems, but also his attention to detail with the players and coaching them individually and personally, I think we’re very fortunate to have Mike. And so, do I think that he’s the right person for this job now and far into the future? I absolutely do.”.
Public votes of confidence from the GM to the coach can be a kiss of death at some point, but Dubas did sound sincere in his faith and belief in Sullivan at this time.
Showing some leadership, Dubas put the team’s current place on himself with the onus to make the team better.
“The responsibility falls to me to chart the course for where we’re at and where we’re going,” Dubas said. “We can get going in that direction if we just adhere to the number one rule of holes, which is ‘when you’re in one, stop digging.’”
To stop digging, the Pens are going to need to win some games.
“I’m gonna give the players and coaching staff as much time as possible,” Dubas would say, mentioning that the All-Star break could be a time to “discuss where we’re at as a club”.
Dubas noted the team wasn’t ”exactly where we want to be” at this point of the year but pointed out that the goaltending, 5 on 5 play and penalty kill has been strong for them. That lines up with comments made last week, where we also pointed out the team was only a few points away from playing towards a 96 point pace through the first 25 games of the season, and some very obvious opportunities to turn some losses into wins via the struggling power play.
Solving that struggling power play will still be the domain of Sullivan and his staff, at least according to the vision and way Dubas stood behind his coach today. The Pens may be under the .500 mark deep into the season, but their key figure in the front office still is taking an outwardly facing optimistic viewpoint that the team can and will show improvement in the near future.