Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford is not one for artful dodging or cliche answers. He answers straight and honest. He also doesn’t mess around when it comes to fixing mistakes or making changes.
Wednesday on the Pittsburgh Penguins pregame show, Jim Rutherford essentially threatened his team with a big shakeup.
“I wonder if this group has been together too long,” Rutherford said. “And maybe we need to change it up. And that’s what I’ll watch for in the next few games.”
Those are strong words to utter publicly on Nov. 7, before Game No. 14.
The Penguins have lost four straight and except for an undefeated four-game Canadian swing in which the Penguins earned two shutouts, the team has otherwise been sloppy and outplayed.
Mike Sullivan has on multiple occasions admitted his team lacked its “swagger”. Last Saturday, both Sullivan and gritty winger Patric Hornqvist admitted the Penguins needed to “play together.”
Sullivan and other players, including Matt Cullen have also said players must “trust” each other. By inference, players aren’t trusting each other. For tonight’s game in Washington, Sullivan shuffled the Penguins lines, including breaking up Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. and sliding Jake Guentzel to the third line with Kessel.
Players such as Bryan Rust and Hornqvist have recently signed long-term deals. Jake Guentzel will be a restricted free agent after this season and Carl Hagelin will be an unrestricted free agent.
Of course, Kessel’s name may or may not have been involved in trade discussions this summer. Reports from multiple outlets including TSN and Pittsburgh Hockey Now reported this was the case. Other outlets have contradicted those reports.
In the pregame show, Rutherford also said his team is “back to being a bad team.”
Post Update: Today, on PHN Extra, we look at who could be available in any shakeup.