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Kingerski: Penguins Fans, Have You Lost Your Marbles?

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MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 13: Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Jack Johnson (73) skates away with the puck during the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on October 13, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

Penguins fans, don’t let the group get carried away. Sure, Jack Johnson has not been a popular figure since he signed a five-year deal on July 1. His Corsi stats have been below 50 percent for his entire career, he’s not a dynamic puck carrier, nor a pure skater. Wednesday, things hit a new level after GM Jim Rutherford defended Johnson.

And instead of considering the rebut, Rutherford himself became a lightning rod for attacks. The vitriol, anger, and social media shouting have only gotten worse since July 1. When Rutherford dared to defend Johnson’s level of play, Twitter melted. Here is the story from The Athletic and writer Josh Yohe. 

The Johnson pile-on is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Pittsburgh, over the past 25 years.

Personal insults flew. Anger then shifted to Rutherford like the F5 tornado in Twister.

Penguins fans, things are officially out of control. Tell me, what do you hope to accomplish with spending all day insulting players and a venerable general manager who built a Stanley Cup contender? Looking for an advanced metric to prove you’re right? Do you think fans or media get a say in personnel decisions? Any GM who worries about fan opinion of his players won’t be employed long.

The “group” can be a powerful thing. The safety of knowing that others agree is empowering. Tribes form and beliefs become fact. From those facts, action is demanded.

But do you really think Jim Rutherford is going to shrug his shoulders, trade Johnson and fall to his knees to ask for forgiveness because YOU thought it was a bad idea?

Can you really say Jim Rutherford has not been one of the most successful GM’s of the last five years? Count regular season wins, playoff wins but most importantly count big silver trophies.

Of course, he hasn’t been perfect. I liked the acquisition of Ryan Reaves but it didn’t work. I thought he overpaid in the Brassard to Florida deal (the draft picks were steep) and I wondered if the Hagelin deal was the best course. Perhaps you have other moves. That’s the fun part and the debate. In fact, here is the negative take from PHN’s Johnson debate from July. And here is the positive. 

But what’s happening now is taking on a life of its own — a miserable life.

It’s time to dial down the Johnson frustration. Put it in perspective. And breathe. He’s not going to cost the Penguins a single point or hold them back. Do you want to be the kind of person who flames other human beings on social media? Do you want to watch every Penguins game for the next four-and-a-half years waiting to pounce on Johnson for faults (real and imagined)?

If you need something on which to hang your hat, Johnson is probably the Penguins best penalty killer. If a player can be a power play specialist, why not a penalty killer? Every goal denied is equal to a goal scored. And if head coach Mike Sullivan and assistant coach Jacques Martin didn’t believe Johnson should be on the ice–he wouldn’t be in the lineup.

Here’s a challenge–open yourself to why they make that decision instead of lathering yourself into a tizzy with the reverse.

Sure, I’ve defended Johnson from the beginning but it’s become tiresome explaining the same thing over…and over. Net clearing defensemen who kill penalties and protect their partner’s backside have a place in the game. The contract length is over and done and $3.25 million already makes him one of the lowest paid regular, veteran defensemen in the league (he’s in the bottom one-third). Do we have to revisit that every day for five years?

Piling on Jack Johnson has become a sport and some sort of value signaling. So, what started as disagreement has rocketed past healthy discussion.

A long time ago, Washington Capitals fans ran Larry Murphy out of Washington with the “whoops” chant every time he touched the puck. Eventually, GM David Poile took pity on the player and moved him to the Minnesota North Stars (from where he was ultimately dealt to the Penguins). Toronto fans have heaped some severe anger towards players like Luke Schenn, but I’ve been told Pittsburgh is different.

Pittsburgh being different than Toronto is one reason fans embraced Phil Kessel, yes? Penguins fans were going to show Toronto media and fans they were better by treating–and protecting–Kessel.

Go ahead, wish Johnson would be a scratch. That’s your right. Point out mistakes if that makes you happy (though I also may suggest it’s healthier looking for balance). But for gosh sakes and your sanity, ease up. Five years is a long time to be angry over a single player whose crime is being better in the defensive zone than the offensive one.

 

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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RobertU
RobertU (@robertu)
2 years ago

Again, social media, especially Twitter, is a wasteland of angry, bullying malcontents; the loudmouths of your school or employer, who now have a world-wide megaphone through which they can shout at things. No sense worrying about it. They are also not representative of the larger fanbase, which likely barely even know who JJ is.

But, for those online, this sentence of yours is most important: “Every goal denied is equal to a goal scored.” They need to stop, think…let that sink in. It has implications for all those “advanced” (LOL) “statistics” they like to misquote.

Skippy
Skippy
2 years ago

Ha! good one Dan.

Medina
Medina
2 years ago
Reply to  Skippy

enter Drake standing ovation clapping GIF here

randomhockeyguy
2 years ago

I am a certified Johnson basher. Let’s just get that out of the way. Forget Corsi, Dan. That just makes everyone go down the advanced stat path. His Corsi isn’t good. So what. If people are out there judging him solely by Corsi, that’s an issue. The problem, however, is that it isn’t JUST his Corsi. Look at simpler, less “advanced” stats. He’s been on the ice at even strength for more goals against than any other Penguin defenseman. He’s the ONLY Penguin defenseman that has been on the ice for more goals against than goals scored for the Penguins.… Read more »

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
2 years ago

I have no problem with people being critical of his play. It’s warranted at times, especially the first couple months. He was -13 at one point. I know 5v5 goals are better and people who love analytics will tell you +/- is crap but to me they are the sane stat for the most part. He’s -6 now I think. He’s not getting scored on like he was. He’s generally in good position and not wandering like he used to. He’s great in front of the net. Great on PK. I almost never see him get beaten down the wall.… Read more »

Thomas Roberts
Thomas Roberts
2 years ago

I am not anti 73 and have on many occassions defended him However I agree with randomhockeyguy because most of what he said is correct. His puck moving skills hinder the pens in all 3 zones. Lot more problems than him 73 though in fact slot 73 into the 2016 team and hed look much better, however on a team that is giving up a ton of goals anyway and on a team that had only 1 D man with more than 1 goal up until last week, it’s pretty rough. I feel for 3.2m we could have done much… Read more »

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
2 years ago

I’ve been indifferent to 73. I do like his net front battle and clear of opponents. I like he plays mean. I do not like his # though. Hahahahaha I have never understood the love fest for MAF and I do not understand the hate towards 73 either. Sure, I understand teenagers feeling strongly for a certain players. However, some adults behind their keyboards are willing to throw down behind their keyboards if any criticism is thrown towards 81 for example. It is quite entertaining reading the comments when such happens. I root for the jersey. I’ve never been a… Read more »

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
2 years ago

As someone who has defended his play at times this year I gotta say this week has been refreshing. There are a few particular sites where the vitriol is so out to lunch and it’s spearheaded by the writers who push the narrative to the point where they will take normal hockey plays and try to turn them into anti Johnson rhetoric. If he’s on the ice, his fault. Mention something good he did…so what. It’s painfully stupid most of the time. Thank you, and thank JR, for calling it out. At least maybe there can be some honest conversation… Read more »

BIG B
BIG B
2 years ago

You can bet your lunch Dan that all of these social media bullies are the one who preach anti-bully messages on social platforms.These people remind me of a British naval Captain i once heard about in a documentary who was hundreds of miles off couse and when his officer informed him that his longitude was wrong he had the officer hanged. This is social media keyboard warriors in a nutshell as they say we are open and tolerant as long as you agree and capitualte to every thing we say and if you don’t we will label you with the… Read more »

Tim Z
Tim Z
2 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

I disagree. I’m a Penguin fan and you categorized me as having lost my mind. I never sent an angry Tweet. So we can categorize all Penguin fan boards as being dishonest because another may be. Fair is fair.

Dean
Dean
2 years ago

Dan. I must have missed all the hate speech on Johnson and Rutherford. I have not read the Josh’s article so I may be missing some facts. I have read and written criticisms on the contract and on Johnson’s play. Both seem well-justified and just part of having invested fans. Sure, you get some trolls in social media that might get carried away, most likely not pens fans. For those that don’t appreciate Rutherford’s overall performance, most of us just ignore those posts. The pens fans that I have been part of for more then 50 years are just the… Read more »

Matt Schmidt
Matt Schmidt (@maschm)
2 years ago

Well said Dan.

Timm
Timm
2 years ago

Thank you, Dan! I play defense often in hockey myself. And I really appreciate his contribution to this team. He does a lot of things really well and has a very personalized playing style. That’s one of the things I really admire about him. He’s not Letang or Schultz and will never play like them. He’s a stay-at-home D guy and solid at it. All these critical fans have probably never put in hard time on the ice or even played and have zero right to criticize JJ.

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