Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



The Penguins have been in decline since 2018, the last time they won a playoff series. They were legit Stanley Cup contenders from 2008-18, winning in ’09, ’16 and ’17. It was a great run and was never going to last forever. 

If you had to pick a day when things went irrevocably bad, it was Feb. 23, 2018. 

That’s when the Penguins got C Derrick Brassard from Ottawa. Going the other way was a first-round pick in 2018, a third-round pick in 2019, defenseman Ian Cole and goaltender Filip Gustavsson, the Penguins’ second-round selection in 2016. The Penguins also got a minor-leaguer and a third-round choice in 2018. 

Brassard was a flop in Pittsburgh, a prima donna who had the temerity to feel he should be a top-six center on a team that had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He was constantly and visibly unhappy. Brassard didn’t even last a full year with the Penguins. 

Gustavsson, 24, is now splitting time with ex-Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury in Minnesota. Gustavsson's goals-against average (2.03) and save percentage (.932) both rank second in the NHL. Gustavsson would undoubtedly be the Penguins’ starting goalie right now. 

That first-round pick the Penguins gave Ottawa ultimately got traded to the New York Rangers, who took 6-foot-5 defenseman K’Andre Miller. Miller, 23, would be a mainstay on the Penguins’ blue line. 

GM Jim Rutherford was trying to win more. I got no problem. But that trade failed miserably, and the ongoing trickledown proved cataclysmic.

Photo: Getty Images

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