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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We Asked for This by @Nick422

The Penguins have had a bit of a rough stretch.  It's amplified the pre-season concerns of a thin team without much depth on scoring or on toughness.  It's a little rough to watch as a Penguins fan and as such we're all searching for answers.  The odd part of this?  This is all "our" fault.

Can You Name More than Two?
In the late '90s and the early 2000s the Penguins were leaking money.  They jettisoned big name players to stay afloat.  Gone were the likes of Alexei Kovalev, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Darius Kasparitis, Robert Lang, Tom Barrasso.  All were replaced in cash dumping trades and ineffective call ups by the likes of Richard Lintner, Shane Endicott, Randy Robitaille, Toby Peterson, Tomas Surovy, Rico Fata, Brian Holzinger, Dan Focht, Kris Beech,  and other names I can't type without breaking into violent fits of sobbing.
Why Rico, Why?
As the Penguins languished and hoped one of the many members of the X-Generation would click and become the star they were hoping for (only Fleury and Orpik remain of that initial wave), they cried poor.  Bankruptcy and poor financial planning by previous owners as well as a crumbling stadium with a strangling lease harmed their ability to make any money.  According to Forbes the Penguins would lose money in two of six seasons during that era despite having one of, if not the lowest payroll in the league.  They were loudest in the cries in a need for a salary cap during the lock out season of 2004-05.  And they got what they wished for.

On top of a salary cap the Penguins would get lucky on some draft picks.  Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Ryan Malone all became early round picks who blossomed into stars.  All but three remain with the team, becoming part of a big legacy and part of a bit of a problem.

Dearly Departed Mellon Arena
We are in the second golden age of Pittsburgh Penguins fandom.  The star power is as high as it has been in 20 years.  Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal.  And yet an argument can be made that there are too many stars.  Too much money tied up in too few players.  There's little cap flexibility and even fewer viable options at rates that can be made affordable to the team in need.

The main villain in this stuttering team is not Dan Bylsma.  It's not Evgeni Malkin.  It's not Kris Letang.  It's not Ray Shero.  It's the salary cap.  It's that salary cap that also saved the Penguins.  Things are rough right now but without that safe guard this team may not even be here.  This is taking the good with the bad because in the end we have no one to blame but ourselves.
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Nicholas Case is the owner of caseandpointsports.com.  He can be found on Twitter at twitter.com/Nick422 and he always enjoys hearing from you.  Yes you.  You can reach him at nick@radio-pi.com

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