Solving Pittsburgh's Problems

As Pittsburgh dropped to 9th in the Eastern Conference after an extremely embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, people continue to question the coaching of Michel Therrien. My opinion? Pittsburgh's problems don't lie in the coaching. It lies in the team itself.

Think about it. When Pittsburgh began seeing signs of success, the roster had a bunch of guys that had been in the system playing with each other since their minor league days. When Therrien first came to Wilkes-Barre, he took an average hockey team and made it into something special. He coached them to fear losing. In fact, I remember former WBS Penguin, Matt Murley, quoting exactly that. So what did they do? They worked their asses off and found ways to win every night. Maybe they weren't the most skilled players, but they did what they had to do to win. It created a stronger team bond, even if they weren't Therrien's biggest fans.

That is exactly what Pittsburgh is NOT doing. They have gotten rid of guys like Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Ryan Malone and Michel Ouellet. Guys that were raised within the organization. They aren't superstars, but when they worked together they pulled it off. Instead, Pittsburgh brought in guys like Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora -- all very talented hockey players who bring a lot of skill to a hockey team. I'm not trying to underestimate their abilities. But Therrien's teams don't come from a star-studded roster. They come from a true 'team' and hard work -- with guys like Max Talbot and Rob Scuderi out on the ice. Unfortunately, the big guys in the organization got stars in their eyes after making it to the finals last year and started taking advantage of how attractive their team now looked to free agents. They transformed the team into one that relies soley on its skill to win hockey games. Watch any of the Bruins vs. Penguins games and you can see a clear difference between a hard working 'team' vs. just skill.

Therrien's recent words truly explain the problem in Pittsburgh right now:

"We have to start thinking about the team concept, not personal agenda. The team concept is the most important thing for any hockey team. The personal agenda on the list of priorities for players should be the last one. Right now, the priority is not at the right place.

And a different coach can't fix that. No matter who he is.

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press



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