Hockey: are the Pens doomed in ’08-09?


Latest dispatch from Pittsburgh, where last year’s run to the Stanley Cup final is fading into memory: defenceman Ryan Whitney is gone for up to five months after surgery to correct a bone fault in his foot.

This guy is a key to the Pens’ season, working the point on the power play along with Sergei Gonchar and keeping pace with the Pens’ prodigious young forwards. But pundits worried this promising team might fall apart in the off-season, and so far the pessimists have been right. Gone are Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa, Georges Laraque, Gary Roberts, Jarkko Ruutu to trades and free agency. And now Whitney for 15-20 games. Sure, they picked up Miro Satan and Matt Cooke, and of course the Crosby/Malkin one-two punch should never be underestimated. But I’m starting to think the Sid and Co. might be in tough to make the playoffs. Cooke is a role player. Satan has a hole where his heart should be. The team’s blueline corps was already suspect, masked as it was by high-powered attack. Worse, they’re stuck in a div with the Flyers and Jersey and the Rangers, all of whom will be jockeying for the playoffs come April.

Last I heard, the Pens were trying to get rid of aging d-man Darryl Sydor, a reliable 15-20-minute per game man who has valuable experience if little to contribute offensively. They might want to rethink that move now.


Hockey: are the Pens doomed in ’08-09?

  1. It’d be tough for them to go deep, particularly with some of the toughness they’ve lost, but miss the playoffs? That’s a bit alarmist. If Fleury plays as good or better than last season, they’ll be fine to make 5th or 6th spot in the East.

  2. It’s hard for teams in the modern NHL to retain players essential for a dynasty. Free agency, fierce competition, and player greed compound the problem. Eliminating Bettman, 10 NHL teams, and restricting free agency would lead to more dynasties and a much better NHL game.

  3. People were wondering last year if the Pens would go deep and their GM Ray Shero went out and got what they needed to make that happen. Saying that they lost a lot in free agency is an undestatement, but the Pens have one of the deepest farm systems in hockey. Guys that they can bring up to contribute fast or even the ability to trade prospects for role players later in the year. The Pens are fine. All of the haters can have their little party now, but they will all be eating crow when Sid and Co. make another run in 08-09.

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