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Leadership issue is at the top, not on the ice

June 17, 2019, 11:57 AM ET [196 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Jim Rutherford is still beating the leadership drum for his team’s shortcomings in the 2018-19 season. It is misguided and once again an attempt to shift the blame away from him and the moves he has made.

“I believe the locker room has lost its way. (Sidney Crosby) does all he can do, as the captain, but you can’t expect him to do the day-to-day stuff. He’s got enough to do, being the top player on the team. We need more guys to get involved in that (leadership).

"Part of the reason we lost our way was because we just got content with our success and, because of cap reasons, we had to move some key guys who were great locker-room guys. (Nick) Bonino was a good example of that. Trevor Daley. (Chris) Kunitz. Nobody’s really jumped in and filled those roles.”

“It’s hard to say,” Rutherford said. “I think we have some guys here who can take that (leadership) role who have been a little bit nervous to step forward. It’s not an easy team or an easy room to be in. You’ve seen that over the years with the Penguins. Long before I got here, you’d bring some guys in and it’s hard for them. I see that. I see why. So possibly, we could have guys (who can handle those duties), but they have to get pushed to do it.”

*Wanking motion*

This is incredibly lame. It’s also ironic because roster construction is the real issue and that starts with him. He isn’t showing great leadership in owning those choices.

The team is still littered with past Stanley Cup champions. How much leadership and experience does one locker room need? This is the problem with using “leadership” as a crutch for shortcomings. Ryan O’Reilly was jettisoned off because he wasn’t a “leader” and we all know how that ended up.

Here’s a list of players who were rostered last year on the Penguins that have won a Stanley Cup

Evgeni Malkin
Sidney Crosby
Phil Kessel
Patric Hornqvist
Bryan Rust
Jake Guentzel
Matt Cullen
Kristopher Letang
Justin Schultz
Brian Dumoulin
Olli Maatta
Chad Ruhwedel
Matt Murray

Thirteen(!) players. There are only 20 active roster spots. Get out of here with the leadership bullcrap. Did the bulk of these players magically transform into horrible people detracting from the goal of winning the Stanley Cup? It’s laughable to think there was drastic change. Quite frankly it is insulting to them. What the hell was the entire point of signing Matt Cullen again if not for his intangibles? It's embarrassing on so many levels.

Leadership is code for our team didn’t finish where we wanted to. Teams don’t finish where they want to for a number of reasons. A huge part of hockey is variance and luck. That can derail any team. Another reason is the roster wasn’t put together with logic. That is the category the Penguins fell in during 2018-19.

The lacking leadership is at the top not on the ice.

Thanks for reading!
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