Penguins Would Be Wise To Sip Some Coffey
Dan Bylsma has accomplished a lot in his two-plus years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but one area he just can’t figure out is the power play.
It’s no secret that, under his tutelage, the power play has not only underachieved, but at times has been an Achilles heel and even an embarrassment.
Originally, many thought coach Mike Yeo was the problem, but upon his departure last summer, the power play failed to improve, and as we saw in the playoffs, likely even regressed.
Clearly, the team needs an adjustment, and getting back a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin won’t hurt – but the best personnel in the league won’t help a poorly designed power play game plan, which has been the problem during Bylsma’s tenure.
The first and most logical scenario involves hiring a power play specialist as a full-time member of the coaching staff.
Last summer, the Penguins had such an opportunity when Yeo departed to take a head coaching position in the AHL. Instead of seeking external help, such as power play guru Adam Oates, who eventually signed to coach the New Jersey Devils’ power play, the Penguins sought to promote from within, bringing minor league coach Todd Rierden on board.
This summer, the Penguins could have such a similar opportunity, as it seems likely Tony Granato could find a head coaching gig following his impressive performance as an assistant on the Penguins’ bench. And, even if he doesn’t depart, it wouldn’t be unprecedented to hire an additional assistant coach to focus on extra attacker play.
Another scenario would include hiring a consultant to work with the team during training camp and at various points during the season. While this won’t serve as the best solution, it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all.
For such a consulting role, the Penguins could do far worse than Hall of Fame defenseman and former Penguin Paul Coffey, who made a living scoring points on the power play. And, should they seek his services, he seems eager to help, according to Mike Palm of the Tribune-Review.
“Anything to help anybody,” Coffey said to Palm when asked if he’d be willing to consult the Penguins next season. He added that, “I was going back and forth with Mario (Lemieux) on texts (during the playoffs).”
But simply going back and forth via text won’t help the Penguins, as we saw during the team’s first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning last month.
And that’s why the Penguins need someone they can rely on, and someone who will be available to physically instruct players and gameplan for the opponent.
Whether it’s Coffey working from his home in Canada or a full-time coach working closely with the team, one thing is for sure: the Penguins’ standard of success most extent to the power play, as the team has an opportunity to be a powerhouse next year.