Last media day with the 2016-17 Penguins
June 15, 2017, 1:30 PM ET [73 Comments]
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Today the media was given the chance to talk with each player of the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins. Jim Rutherford was also made available to the media. We learned about some injuries, potential future plans, and how much everybody loves Marc-Andre Fleury. I’m going to rifle through some of Jim Rutherford’s comments as well as each player who was made available and provide personal insight when appropriate.
Let’s start with arguably the most important person, Jim Rutherford.
He said that he’s spoken with all of the unrestricted free agents and that he is not going to close the door on any of them, but that it will be difficult with the salary cap. Guys like Kunitz and Cullen could be back (yes, Cullen) while players like Bonino and Daley are probably going to have to move on.
Rutherford did say that the free agents can test the market and if they want to come back to Pittsburgh then they’ll talk. That is a polite way of saying that unless you give a hometown discount you will be playing elsewhere.
Rutherford’s most disappointing comment
“We are going to add a player or two that could “provide more protection”
He alluded to this during the playoff run in one of his interviews with the press.
However, this flies in the face of why the team is going for a THREE PEAT. Also flies in the face of logic. There is no evidence, none, that shows “tough” players deter other “tough” players from taking liberties. In fact, there is a strong argument for the opposite being true. Stick to the script, which is speed and skill. It hasn’t failed the team yet, literally.
Much like how the deterrence method is a failed strategy on the ice it is also going to be a failed strategy off the ice. The NHL will yawn at whatever potential message the Penguins are trying to send with this. The team would only be hurting themselves.
Justin Schultz kicked things off for the players by addressing Olli Maatta’s post parade nap
“I dunno what happened to him. We were in the same boat”
He also referenced seeing the photoshopped pictures of him chugging beer. He fractured a rib against Ottawa and wants to be back with the Penguins next year. I will be giving his potential contract its own blog.
Brian Dumoulin fractured his hand in the Columbus series and alluded to the fact that it didn’t really heal as time went on.
Chris Kunitz says he has not considered retirement and feels good. He said he loves it in Pittsburgh and that he won’t close the door on the Penguins.
“Situation not just about money.”
This is great news and I will detail why I believe that the Penguins should retain Chris Kunitz’s services in the near future. He is still a very capable player in what should be a reduced role moving forward.
Matt Murray tore a hamstring before the playoff opener. That was a hell of a deke by Taylor Hall.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s segment with the media was emotional. He’s known what the end game was for a while now and the way he has handled the situation deserves the attention that it has received. His peers love him for a reason.
Fleury said the following about Matt Murray
Matt’s the guy here. He will be for many years.
Back in February Fleury let Jim Rutherford know that he would waive his no-movement clause for Las Vegas allowing the Penguins to keep him for the Stanley Cup run. It was a gamble that paid off for both manager and player.
Carl Hagelin broke his fibula against the Winnipeg Jets. He won’t need surgery. It didn’t start feeling right until the Stanley Cup Final.
Nick Bonino stated that he has not talked to Jim Rutherford yet about a contract. He also said that his left angle bone broke all the way through.
“Can’t, walk. Can’t golf. It’s the worst.”
Bonino’s situation merits its own blog and that will be coming in the near future.
Matt Cullen said he hasn’t made up his mind about retirement and that he’d probably only come back to play for the Penguins. Now this is an interesting development. It was likely that the Penguins would need both a new third line center and a fourth line center for next year. Maybe they will only need to focus on the third line center spot now.
Evgeni Malkin did not speak to reporters. He’s had a hell of a three day bender judging by the parade photos yesterday.
Sidney Crosby did speak and he talked about playing for as long as he can. Feeling great as he approaches 30 years of age. Crosby was given a text message from Peyton Manning congratulating him on the back-to-back championships. He thinks he was more nervous for his opening pitch than for Game 6. On Marc-Andre Fleury:
“It will be tough. It’s something where I don’t even like having to talk about it.”
He also said the players were enjoying the social media photos of Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz
Bill Guerin was officially named General Manager of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins effectively replacing Jason Botterill. Jason Karmanos will be an assistant general manager while Mark Recchi will be the director of player development. Jim Rutherford is staying true to his word. They are not looking for a Botterill replacement they are going to look to fill his void from within the organization.
So with that the offseason has officially begun. Expect a lot of analysis about Pittsburgh’s future roster decisions in the coming days and weeks.