Penguins Notebook: Bonino Bouncing Back; Dubas’ Dubious Decision
The IIHF World Championship tournament doesn’t usually get much attention from Pittsburgh Penguins fans.
It often has conflicted with the Penguins’ participation in the Stanley Cup playoffs, although that hasn’t been an issue in recent years, so they rarely have players or prospects involved.
They are well-represented in this year’s competition, though, with five players who finished the season on the major-league roster — Casey DeSmith, Drew O’Connor and Nick Bonino of Team USA, Canada’s P.O Joseph and Alex Nylander of Sweden — playing for their countries.
Members of the U.S. contingent has fared particularly well, helping their club to a 3-0 start.
DeSmith is 2-0 and has stopped 53 of 56 shots, while O’Connor has a goal and two assists and has been used on both special teams.
But Bonino might be the Penguins player who is making the biggest impression at the tournament.
He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and, because he was sidelined by a lacerated kidney for most of the time after the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline, teams might have been reluctant to invest in a 35-year-old coming off such a significant injury.
But Bonino, who is serving as Team USA’s captain, has been centering the No. 1 line, killing penalties and working on the power play, and has handled that heavy workload well.
The caliber of competition in the tournament isn’t as high as it is in the NHL, of course, but Bonino’s play so far suggests he is over the effects of his injury and still might be able to be an effective bottom-six center in the league next season.
Kyle Dubas probably deserves credit for his candor Monday, when he said he isn’t interested in being a general manager anywhere except Toronto, at least in the coming season.
It didn’t necessarily reflect well on his skills as a negotiator, though.
Dubas’ contract with the Maple Leafs is about to expire, and reports suggest that ownership there is interested in keeping him.
After weeks of speculation that he would be a — maybe the — leading candidate to replace Ron Hextall as GM of the Penguins, Dubas effectively snuffed any possibility of that happening.
In the process, he also stripped himself of some leverage that could have helped him get better money or more favorable terms in any deal he eventually might strike with the Maple Leafs.
Olczyk worth a look?
Eddie Olczyk has been a player, coach and broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It will be interesting to see if he gets a chance to fill a fourth role — front-office executive — with them.
Olczyk, currently a TV analyst for Seattle Kraken games and national broadcasts on TNT, reportedly was the runner-up for the president of hockey operations job in Philadelphia, which ultimately went to former Flyers forward Keith Jones.
Brian Burke, who filled that role for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was fired last month, along with Hextall and assistant GM Chris Pryor.
Fenway Sports Group executives have not announced — and, perhaps, have not even decided — precisely how the front office will be structured, but regardless of what the position is called, someone presumably will serve as a liaison between the hockey operations people and upper management.
Although Olczyk’s extensive resume does not include executive experience, he’s worked in and around the NHL for four decades and his knack for connecting with people — a valuable trait for someone serving as a bridge between two groups in an organization — is well-known.
There’s no indication that anyone from Fenway has spoken with Olczyk, whose pursuit of the job that went to Jones underscores his interest in moving into management, or that there are plans to do so, but he seems like a candidate worthy of consideration.
If I’m Brendan Shanahan, I would jettison Dubas. Came across as a sniffling pansy. He wants us to feel sorry for the toll his job took on his family this year. Really??? Here is a 30-something who never played the game, so his family never had to deal with him being on the road for 41 games each year. They never had to relocate due to trades or FA. And now, he is paid big bucks to hold down 1 of only 32 coveted jobs in a pro sport that others love to have a shot at. He makes enough… Read more »
Dubas has been around hockey his whole life. He quit playing in his mid-teens because of concussion issues.
He never played in college or any of the junior leagues. That doesn’t qualify him as “being around hockey his whole life:” Bottom line: he has a dream job in the eyes of many, he never went through the grind of being a player at a high level, yet he is whining about the toll his GM job has taken on his family. Cry me a river!!
Do a little more reading on his background. Knowledge is a powerful thing.
No interest. He’s dead to me…and the Pens, thankfully. Let the poor kid limp through life up in To-Ron-To.
And Toronto just jettisoned him:
Kyle Dubas will not return as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager | TSN