Larry Brooks, as he usually does, has some interesting gossip this week.
He’s reporting the still-winless Penguins are pretty miserable in the locker room (login info.).
There are a few reasons, according to Brooks. There’s a feeling that some players aren’t working hard enough. But there’s also some feeling that Marc-Andre Fleury should be the starting goalie (Fleury’s in the AHL — still) and not Jocelyn Thibault. Brooks says Fleury is being kept down in the minors because of his contract, which pays some serious money for some not unattainable statistics. Apparently, the Penguins are trying to stay under their own cap, which is a bit less than the league-wide cap.
Brooks seems kind of mad about the whole thing, but I think every team is well within their rights to set their own salaries. The market will correct things for them. I can’t imagine Penguin ticket sales, which had been pretty high, will keep up if the Penguins continue to lose. And I doubt Sidney Crosby, as much as he loves living with Mario Lemieux, will want to spend his prime NHL years with a losing franchise. I can almost see the trade demands already. So if the Penguins don’t improve soon, they’re going to lose a lot more than games. And that realization will force them into spending more money. Or spending the same amount of money more intelligently.
And as far as Fleury goes, the guy is still very squirrely. He’s got a lot of nervous energy and you can see it when he plays. It’s a lot of Hasek-esque scrambling and diving and sliding. It’s like he can’t read a play until the puck is crossing into his blue goalmouth area. As athletic as Fleury is, he still has a lot of work to do in terms of positioning. Ideally, he should probably be watching and learning from Thibault, but I’m not sure he needs to be starting yet.
Meanwhile, Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk is is playing with his lines, trying to get something going.
I’d start with a penalty kill.