I took the Penguins to task in my timesonline.com column. I’m a fan, but I’ve got the right. I’ve been going to Pens games since I was 6. It’s my team, too.

The Penguins are more about branding than winning. There is no way to be less than highly critical. The Penguins have had more talent than any team in the NHL for the last six seasons. They haven’t been to a Stanley Cup final in the last four, making just one trip to the conference final. They lost four straight.

Enough with the “happy family” nonsense. Enough with “In the Room.” Enough with friggin’ mustache boy. It’s a job, not a play date.

When was the last time a Penguin got chewed out for a dumb penalty, or a lazy play? When was the last time a Penguin got called out by a coach or teammate? Humiliation and tension are teaching tools. Use your entire arsenal.

When you tap-dance around unpleasant moments, you go right to panic and frustration when legit tough times hit. Then you get swept by Boston.

Let’s understand what’s at stake:

*The Penguins are on their way to being remembered like the Atlanta Braves of the ‘90s. Lots of talent. No guts. Lots of little wins. Not enough big wins. Underachievers. Paper champions. Regular-season warriors.

*Sidney Crosby is on his way to being remembered as Peyton Manning. Lots of individual brilliance. Only one Stanley Cup. That’s on the Penguins more than Sid. Two gold medals speak thusly on his behalf.

When the Penguins laugh and joke through their latest episode of reality TV, they should think about all that.

Here’s one more thing to consider: If the Penguins don’t make the Stanley Cup final this year, the current model needs gutted. That’s not a David Morehouse decision, or a Ray Shero decision. That’s a Mario Lemieux/Ron Burkle decision.


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