Look: I know adding Jarome Iginla to your team is a good thing. He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with a great shot, great work ethic, and great attitude. Brenden Morrow should be a good addition too. And hey, Murray’s a fine depth defenseman. It’s very, very difficult to find reasons why adding these guys would be a bad thing, but we need to consider all aspects of this trade instead of just slurping Ray Shero, who ohmigod is seriously amazing.
I mean, can you imagine being Peter Chiarelli and waking up to this news today?
The fact of the matter is, a team that’s won 13 straight games is tinkering with their lineup, and there’s a slight possibility that that’s not a good thing. Sliiiiight.
Here are some possible reasons why the Penguins may regret the trades they’ve made over the past few days. …They likely won’t, but just come for the ride, won’t you?
They got older
Over the past week, the Penguins have added 34-year-old Brendan Morrow, 33-year-old Douglas Murray, and 35-year-old Jarome Iginla.
As you’re well aware, playoffs are a grind. As the series wear on, you’ll often hear about teams holding “optional” skates, meaning “hey old guys, stay off the ice and let your bodies rest while the rest of the team shakes out their legs this morning.” The Penguins are likely trimming young energy from their roster to make room for these guys, so their morning skates are going look like a ghost town plus, I dunno, Dustin Jeffrey.
Older players are more prone to injuries, more prone to wearing down, and that could be a bad thing if the Penguins go deep in a number of series.
They got slower
This is somewhat related to the above point, but the reality of adding more proven talent is that you shuffle out the Not Ready Yets like Beau Bennett who fly around at mach six at all times. You sacrifice some team speed for reliability, getting rid of a race car for an SUV. Now, SUV’s are great, but as a hockey team, faster is generally better. It’s possible that defenses will find it easier to contain a Pittsburgh Penguins team with Iginla, Morrow and Murray than they would with younger, faster players swirling around while they try to deal with Crosby and Malkin. I think we can all agree their three acquisitions are not the most fleet of foot.
There’s not enough puck to go around
Currently, things are going swimingly for the Penguins. They have the longest current winning streak in pro sports thanks to the Miami Heat’s loss last night, and they have a couple of “good”-level players playing GREAT. Chris Kunitz is third in the NHL in scoring, one point behind Steven Stamkos for second in the league. CHRIS KUNITZ. 43 points in 34 games.
Pascal Dupuis has 15 goals already. That’s good for 11th in the league, tied with Sidney Crosby. Brandon Sutter has nine goals. James Neal has the fifth most in the league with 17. Evgeni Malkin exists. Now you’re going to stir in Brendan Morrow (who scored 30 two years ago, not that he’s still that guy) and Jarome Iginla, who has 11-straight seasons of 30+ goals on his resume.
Not everyone will be happy, because there’s just not enough puck to go around. Sorry Kunitz and Dupuis. Somebody is bound to be underutilized, somebody is bound to be unhappy, and it’s possible some frustration could creep in for Pens forwards.
Too many (leaders) and not enough (people doing the grunt work)
Sidney Crosby is the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Interestingly, Brendan Morrow was the captain of the Dallas Stars. Interestingly, Jarome Iginla was the captain of the Calgary Flames. Then they have a coach, and assistant coaches, and on and on and on. While everyone is saying the right things right now, a great Mike Tyson quote comes to mind: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
If the Pens lose a couple games in the playoffs, and they find themselves in a hole, how does that play out for this team? What if Crosby isn’t producing (maybe he’s being double-Tikkanen’d, whatever), and the other leaders start to nose in on “his” team. What if they have philosophical differences?
By all accounts, all of these men are good, reasonable dudes, but they’ve also been used to being The Guy for awhile now. We’ll see how things gel when they’re asked to be just A Guy.
Too much pressure
This reminds me of two things: 1) when the Miami Heat first came together and everyone (Okay, LeBron, but you get the point) was like “Oh snap, give them not five, not six, not seven titles…” and then they lost the first year. They immediately had a rifle scope on their backs, and all teams did was game plan ways to beat them, which Dallas eventually did. The Heat were more than fine once they settled in, but the Penguins don’t have the time for that – Iginla and Morrow and Murray are currently all “rentals” – so it’s now or never for them. There’s no adjustment period allowed.
And 2), When the Los Angeles Lakers were built this year – they’re stacked, and they have older, talented leadership (Kobe & Nash) – things just didn’t gel. Nash got hurt as older players tend to do, and they mostly got rolled by their opposition, with Kobe Bryant seemingly having to do more to drag them to wins.
All eyes are on them, everyone’s gunning for them, and nobody wants to be the guy to start slumping in that scenario. But with everyone wanting the puck and wanting to contribute, it’s possible they could run into trouble. The pressure’s on.
That’s just a whole bunch of devil’s advocism (not a word) right there. The most likely scenario is that the Penguins took a good team, added talent and got better. But in sports, nothing is guaranteed, and how a team words together matters. Chemistry is a real thing, and the Penguins have a very short stretch until playoffs to find how they best work together.
I’m guessing they’ll be fine. But for the reasons above, it’s always possible that they won’t be.