Sunday was the day the Penguins cleaned out their lockers, hauled away their sticks and equipment
bags and began conducting exit interviews with their head coach.
It was also the day the guy who as of Sunday afternoon was still the head coach of the Penguins took a shot at shutting out any perceived uncertainty entering the
off-season as it relates to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I’m not sure on the definition of ‘franchise goalie,’” Dan Bylsma said. “He’s the No.1 goalie for this franchise and he will be going forward.
“Marc-Andre Fleury is a guy who is going to come back to our team and he’s going to be the No.1
On that point Blysma couldn’t have been more adamant.
“Marc-Andre Fleury is going to go back in net,” Bylsma continued. “He’s going to take the net and he’s going to be the No. 1 goalie and he’s going to play great, there’s
no question about that. He’s going to win a lot of hockey games for this team next season and he’ll have that opportunity in the playoffs again when this team gets there.”
Bylsma spoke with much less certainty when asked if he’s been assured by General Manager Ray Shero about being the head coach of the Penguins again in 2013-14.
“At this point in time I haven’t had conversations with Ray Shero about that,” Bylsma said.
So stay tuned on that one. And on Fleury’s status, for that matter, in the event there’s a coaching change.
Shero is scheduled to speak to the media at 11 a.m., Wednesday.
Penguins players who spoke on Sunday, likewise, claimed to have no assurances regarding
the staff for next season.
But to a man they endorsed Bylsma and assistants Tony Granato, Todd Reirden and Gilles Meloche.
Sidney Crosby: “We’re well prepared and I think as players we appreciate everything the coaches do to make us ready to play and give us every opportunity to be successful. They communicate well with everyone, the energy they bring every day. We’re given every opportunity to be successful.
“Whether you’ve been here for a while or you’re like ‘Iggy’ (Jarome Iginla) who just got here recently, I think everyone will tell you we all feel pretty fortunate to have
“There are a lot of things that can happen when you don’t meet the expectation. I don’t think there’s anything they could have done differently.”
Brandon Sutter: “These decisions aren’t up to me and I’m not going to sit here and say what’s going to happen but as far as I’m concerned (Bylsma’s) back and we’re looking forward. You look back on the (Boston) series, if we had won a couple of those games no one would probably be talking about it.
“We couldn’t score any goals, that’s what it kind of came down to. By no means was it a structural thing or anything like that. (The coaching staff) put us in position to win and do the right things. I have nothing but good things to say about them all.”
Matt Niskanen: “The coaches do an excellent job for us. The results showed throughout the whole season. Our players have really thrived. The coaches do a good job of preparing us. They give us a good chance to succeed with the way we play, with the system Dan puts in for us. I’m very happy with the way the coaches handled their team.”
Bylsma also said he “very much” envisions Beau Bennett as a top-six forward and Simon Despres as a top-four defenseman next season, and that defenseman Paul Martin was playing with “a significant injury the last few games” against the Bruins.
Like seemingly everyone else associated with the Penguins, Bylsma is still a little stunned by what happened against Boston.
“It’s definitely shock and disbelief and a little bit surreal that we got eliminated, that we got beat in four straight and didn’t win a game against the Bruins,” he said. “I haven’t had time to put my arms around it and get a lesson learned.”