Joe Starkey: Penguins' coaching moves raise some questions

By Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Hockey

On the other hand, Reirden's latest power plays in Washington - and as the head coach, that's ultimately his responsibility - wasted just as much talent as the Penguins' power play did this season. Washington's finished just below the Penguins at 17th in the league.

Reirden, like Gonchar, has a commendable history of developing defensemen. But in terms of helping Sullivan enforce a structured approach, which Sullivan greatly desires, consider that Reirden ran a Capitals team that often looked out of sorts defensively after he replaced Barry Trotz. The Capitals were an elite defensive team under Trotz. They were ... well ... not that under Reirden.

"One thing that happened for us in the bubble, our structure didn't seem to be there," Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told reporters after firing Reirden. "We couldn't find a team structure."

Also consider that the Penguins are a team that has radically underachieved the past two postseasons and been cited by their own GM as lacking energy and effort, and that the exact same things could be said of Reirden's Capitals.

MacLellan spoke of the club's "compete level" being "in and out" and described it as "thinking we can play good when we have to play good."

Sound familiar?

I get it: Reirden won't be the head coach here. It's a different job. I was just thinking the radical rearrangement of the staff would represent more of a fresh start with fresh faces and fresh ideas. Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it's the roster itself that's the issue.


Buckley also has a fine reputation, but it's interesting that he survived, considering he presided over the demise of two-time Cup winner Matt Murray, now on the trading block. Finances factor into that situation, sure, but if Murray had become the elite goaltender the Penguins projected him to be, we wouldn't be talking about a trade. He's only 26.

Buckley appears to have done some excellent work with Tristan Jarry, but Jarry also slipped in the second half of the season.

I just have some questions. That's all. Maybe Rutherford knows precisely what he's doing. That wouldn't surprise anyone. Hopefully, his tenure here doesn't go the way of his ending in Carolina.

Time will tell. It always does - and as you know, time is the one thing the Penguins' aging stars don't have much of anymore.

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