And so it goes. Our most lengthy, snarky, yet in-depth submission for the PHN Penguins GM for a Day award was indeed the winner: Hatrick Pornqvist, if that is his real name. Below is Hatrick’s submission for his take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, this time presented wholly unedited.
We received a lot of impressive submissions. Of course, we’ll give another stick tap to 11-year Fiona. We’ve had a little email chat with her, and you may be seeing more of her perspectives. At least that’s our hope. If nothing else, she made some fans here, and you’ll hopefully see her more on the message boards, too. As always…be nice! (Really, shouldn’t that be a rule anyway?)
It surprised us that Pornqvist won as his submission called for restraint, patience and not launching Jack Johnson into outer space in the passenger seat of a Tesla with Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy playing on the Nav screen.
Hatrick will get his choice of one of Dan Kingerski’s previously secret and rarely displayed bobblehead collection, a $25.00 gift card to Redbeard’s or the unenviable task of being a co-host on a Penguins live chat from the Pittsburgh Sports Live studios.
We also asked Dan Kingerski to sing a special song, ala Burt Parks in the Miss America pageant. He declined. We’ll call that a win-win. And one more legal disclaimer: This contest has no affiliation, real or imagined, with the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, organization, the NHL or even good taste.
Winner: Hatrick Pornqvist
It’s hard to be a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Really hard. No sarcasm. I mean it.
I know, I know. What kind of crap is that, right?
Five Stanley Cups? Ouch. Three in 9 years, including back to backs? You poor things. A who’s who of NHL legends donning our jerseys over the span of multiple decades? Should I stop whining now?
If you’re not a Pens fan, you might hate them for the reasons I listed above. You might hate them even more for hearing me suggest how hard it is, especially if you cheer for a team that has never won or hasn’t for a very long time. But before your eyes roll the full 180 degrees and start pointing straight at your skull, allow me to explain.
The Pittsburgh Penguins almost always have the best player on earth. My whole adult life we have, for the most part. Mario. Jagr. Sid. Geno. That’s a ridiculous amount of Art Ross and Hart and Conn Smythe Trophies for one team. If only every fan base were so blessed, right? (To be clear…nah, screw that idea).
So why is it so hard for the poor little Penguins faithful? Because with all that hall of fame talent comes an ungodly number of unreasonable expectations.
Case in point… you can taste the level of disdain right now for where the team is at, after not having won the Cup in two whole years. Everyone’s blood pressure is off the charts and the house is on fire. The plane has crashed into the mountain! We are doomed. Right?
Well, as I am guessing Mr. Dan Kingerski might suggest, everybody just needs to calm down. Things are actually looking up. It’s been a good offseason.
We are younger. We are faster. We have a room that’s ready to come back together. The only way to go is up. The cherry on top? We have a phenomenal new GM, just for a day, and his name is Hatrick Pornqvist. And he has a plan. Here’s what it is.
First of all, the forward group looks as good as it has in ages. Look at the options down the middle: Sid, Geno, Bjugstad, McCann, Blueger, and even Galchenyuk. Any team in the league would be thrilled to have that. And the last four can play wing. Versatility, speed, size, skill. It’s all there.
Now, what do we have on the wings? Well, we lost Phil Kessel, may he rest in Phoenix. That’s what I assume R.I.P. stands for in hockey. But look at our wingers. Pretty nice crop there. Guentzel, McCann, Hornqvist, Galchenyuk, Rust, Kahun, Bjugstad, Tanev, ZAR, Simon. That’s a good bunch. Very good.
In net? All good, nothing to see here people.
So as GM for a day, all that leaves me, is the D. That seems to be the focus of so so much of the fan base right now, especially those on the good old interwebs. But are they really that big of an issue? This GM thinks no. And he really doesn’t want to do much.
Mr. Pornqvist is actually quite content. Could they be better? Of course, any team’s D could be. But in his opinion, things are extremely far from the scorched earth dystopian Mad Max post-apocalyptic hellscape that so many poor souls lament about online on a daily basis. The expectations of the Penguins faithful are a heavy, heavy burden. They just need a nap. All is well.
For this new GM For a day, most of the hard work has been done already by his colleague, peer, and clear equal, Mr. Jim Rutherford (he deserves the respect of having his name mentioned here alongside GMHP, he’s earned that).
GMJR is correct in believing the D is not an issue. Asking Juuso Riikola to play 82 games plus the playoffs is not the right play at this juncture. Trading away whipping boy Jack Johnson for cap space to make room for young Juuso to do it is imprudent. Depth is better. Options are better. That’s what we have now. We need to leave it and not turn a strength into a weakness that hinges on a gamble on an unproven youngster. GMHP doesn’t want to see 1 or 2 injuries force his team to have 2 or 3 guys in his lineup that played a lot of AHL minutes last year. He wants to see what that defence that played so well late in the regular season is capable of, before messing with it or taking unnecessary risks.
Things can wait. Mr. Pornqvist wants to see what pans out this coming season first. It’s a prudent move. Ignore the online mob. That’s the plan. Marcus Petterssen doesn’t need 20 minutes a night right now. One day he will. He’s that good. But it’s not worth rushing. The D can handle things the way they are built right now. We’ve actually witnessed it already. The delegation of blue line minutes can be handled in-season by the future hall of fame coach Mike Sullivan, not forced on him from above.
There’s just really a tiny bit of housekeeping to do. Maybe one tough decision. How do we get Petterssen, ZAR, and Blueger signed while leaving this team as intact as possible?
That’s the plan. Get that done and all will be well. Expectations will again be met and the mob will subside.
How? That’s an easy answer that’s also a bit of an unfortunate one. Lose a winger. A guy who’s had some big moments. A guy who teams want. A guy who gives us the money we need. A guy who we have reasonable fill-ins for right now. A guy named Bryan Rust.
He’s the unfortunate consequence of having everything else in place and having a lot of good NHL wingers. Trade him to a young team, that can absorb his cap hit and wants to challenge for a playoff spot. A western conference team. One we have a history of doing business with. One who might want a good young goalie from Western Canada. One that likes Swedish prospects and players.
From them get a player with speed. A player improving year to year who may be underrated. One who we can make the money work with. One that can do what Rust did bit with more potential upside. Maybe more than just a bit. Maybe lots. One who’s been in rumour mills for a long time and needs a change of scenery, and may not be part of the future plans for his current team. Make a good sensible trade for both teams.
Trade Bryan Rust, Tristan Jarry, and Fillip Hallander to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. Do it now.
Now sign ZAR to a 3-year deal at $1.2M per year. Sign Blueger for 2 years at $925k. Go get Marcus Petterssen to sign for 4 years at $2.3M. GMHP is done. He hands the reigns back to his contemporary and mentor GMJR.
The opening night roster is:
Guentzel Crosby McCann
Galchenyuk Malkin Virtanen
Kahun Bjugstad Hornqvist
ZAR Blueger Tanev
That’s a 23 man roster. That’s depth. That is a roster that can withstand injuries. That’s a ton of added youth and speed. Guys who can finish and guys who can back check. Guys who will hit you and hound you and follow you up and down the ice for the puck. Guys who can be free agents next year if they don’t work out. Guys who can play wing or center. PP guys and PKers. That is a 23 man roster with a total cap hit of 81.075 million dollars according to Hatrick Pornqvist’s iPhone.
His work is over. Chill. Wait for training camp. Enjoy your summer. Calm down. Scope out a good spot to watch the parade. You’re welcome.