The Distance to Here: A Penguins Retrospective

24 04 2016

So, here we are. We’ve all made it here. Where is “here,” exactly? That is both something easy and difficult to answer.

“Here” is nothing more than the second round of playoffs in the 2015-2016 season. The Penguins have made it through round one with, what some may call, remarkable ease. “Here” is waiting to find out if the next round will be against another rival – the Flyers or Capitals (as of this writing, the Caps-Flyers game had just begun. EDIT: It will be the Capitals).

“Here” is also a much more…amorphous term. “Here” represents a location or destination. Moving on in playoffs is not a unique sentiment or goal. Every team wants to make playoffs and then progress as far as possible. Getting “here,” however, is something different for this Penguins team. “Here” isn’t simply the 2nd round (or Conference championship or even the the Finals themselves). “Here” means the transformation of the Penguins into this team, this style of play, this everything.

To understand how the Penguins got “here,” we need to look at a journey they collectively took. For some of you, none of this will be new. Let’s take a trip back in time. Not to the distant past. Not to the explosion of the stars from which we were all created. Let’s take a trip back to the grand old days of 2010.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Rant Was Due pt. 1

21 12 2015

Cross-posted from a Twitter rant I did this morning while waiting at the eye doctor’s office.

This is part one of a #TheRantIsDue and #TheRantWasDue series of essays and, well, rants that needed to be said.


The Penguins, despite the results and sometimes lopsided scores, have actually been playing – relatively – well and are due for a little luck and a win. They have been a woefully unlucky team and are due for a few breaks. I suspect tonight will be one of those nights where one or two bounces go the right way and they gut out a win. Maybe 4-2 or 3-2. Something like that. And they’ll do so with Crosby out which will feed a million disassociated narratives about his leadership and how the team should get rid of him. Correlation is not causation. Crosby being out != Penguins success (if/when they win).

It doesn’t excuse Crosby’s play. That has been abysmal. And not just by Crosby standards. But him being out and, God help us, the Pens winning a game will be a whole new nightmare of stupidity from an already shortsighted, incomprehensible fan base of dunces.

Johnston got canned. Scuderi got traded. Somehow Rutherford is the next scapegoat…but Crosby is right on the heels.

I said before that there is something fundamentally broken about this team and I can’t put my finger on it. I said that Johnston was definitely in over his head and he became intractable in his approach, which was ultimately his undoing, but he wasn’t a bad coach.

Shortsighted, easily manipulated assclappers, however, were quick to jump on the bandwagon of “Johnston is the woorrrsssstttttt” because the equally shitty media were pushing a narrative because it generates traffic.

I don’t even entirely disagree with Johnston getting the chop because it clearly had become an issue, but I don’t think anything is magically going to change because of a new bench boss. I said it under MJ, now I say it under MS – this is entirely on the players. They’re the fuck ups.

There were so many people who literally fell for the propaganda being shoved into their faces about Johnston and the team. It’s amazing how quickly people were led to believe things about MJ simply by ROOT Sports cutting to him after a goal or during a moment of contention. It’s not as though there was any type of editorializing being done there.

After Yohe made his report about Rutherford being unhappy with MJ and player usage, I said the reason that came out was entirely, 100% to provide context to dismiss a coach who had been relatively successful in a short stretch of time.

Certain propagandists and general douchebags have made it a point to die on the hill that it was Rutherford being a senile old man who is grossly unprofessional in saying this. And this is because it fits a narrative they want pushed because they didn’t like the hiring in the first place. And, in their eyes, it all leads back to David Morehouse. And that’s crafting a narrative to fit the ends you want to see.

MJ became a sacrificial lamb of sorts (I say of sorts because he wasn’t exactly doing the best in the job and it wasn’t a wholly undeserved firing) and now people are coming at Rutherford.

Maybe it begins with you. You need to see the thing you love for what it is instead of what you imagine it to be. Enjoy the thing you love because you love it, not because it’s the lost successful or prettiest thing.

You don’t love the Penguins or hockey. You love what the Penguins represent – status, prestige, success. They don’t meet those expectations and somehow you need to point a figure at an exact, precise thing for blame.

The Penguins are an underachieving team and there’s no easy fix. It is what it is. All you can do is hope to see things get better. If they don’t, that’s life. Ups and downs. Can’t win ’em all. Luck’s gotta run out some time.

And now, God help us all, if the Pens win without Crosby tonight, there will be no rest among the vocal rabbles in the fan base until Crosby has been traded or retires. He will shoot to number one with a bullet on the public enemy chart if they win without him.

And we’re seeing the groundwork again – Malkin being “ready to lead” type articles. Now we get a hundred think pieces on Crosby’s leadership (or lack thereof) and how Malkin should be wearing the C and blah blah.

It frightens me to see just how easily manipulated people are. And then I look at who is leading the Republican field for President and remind myself just how weak-willed, weak minded, shortsighted, and how severely lacking in critical thinking skills the average citizen is. There’s a reason Trump is leading and why his brand of fascism is succeeding.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Strap in, motherfuckers.

Identity, Imagination, and Iwata

14 07 2015

As many of you have a likely heard by now, Mr. Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, died on July 11 after a long battle with cancer. This entry…I think this is more for me and my mental health than anything. Mr. Iwata’s passing really got me and I have been doing a lot of ugly crying the last few days. I apologize in advance if this sometimes meanders and rambles. There have been countless tributes to Mr. Iwata, but I think the most powerful has been the piece of artwork created by Sonja van Vuure (pictured below)

thankyouiwata_smlSonja van Vuure

  This is not intended to be a post about the cruelty that is cancer and how we lose too many, too young (Mr. Iwata was only 55 years old). It isn’t even an attempt to speak as some type of industry “insider” as my years of being in the quasi-loop in the video game world are long behind me. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what this entry IS about, but I didn’t want it to be those things. I have been a Nintendo fan ever since I was little. I grew up, almost for my whole life, with Nintendo. As far back as I can recall, video games were always a part of my life. I have become something of a collector over the years. I remember going to the local video store and renting an NES console and games because we did not own one (I would assume it was because of cost, but I cannot say exactly why). I was two years old when the NES launched. My family did not purchase an NES for another 3 years, maybe 4 years (I want to say we bought one in the Summer of 89, but it may have been 1990). For what it is worth, though, I grew up with the NES as an integral part of my childhood. I remember the first time we rented the NES from the local video store and brought it home, got it hooked up, and invited neighbors over to see it and play it. It became a party. The game that got everyone all riled up? Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt became the first party game. Who ever would have guessed 16 years later family would gather in that same living room at Thanksgiving to play Wii Sports? While playing games and being a fan of Nintendo does not define a life, it certainly highlights the importance of games to my personal existence. Read the rest of this entry »

Staring into the Abyss

4 06 2015

The following is transcribed from a Twitter Rant I went on earlier today. It was very much a stream-of-consciousness type rant because I had just seen enough and needed to get the thoughts and feeling out of my mind and body. I prefaced it with Lewis Black’s amazing hashtag, #TheRantIsDue.

I don’t expect to win too many friends with this, but that’s life.


I never thought this day would come, but I have become the most ardent, vocal defender of someone related to and involved with the Kardashians. The willful ignorance of short sighted (and, let’s call a spade a spade here, largely conservative) yahoos has made me a defendant of Caitlyn Jenner.

For a society that loves to claim “you do you,” it seems a touch hypocritical to castigate a person for being herself. Yes, Caitlyn Jenner is rich and a celebrity (partly because of previous successes I  Athletics, and it’s not like America hasn’t had an unhealthy obsession with sports and sports figures before AND partly because we, as a society, made her one by association with a family, honestly, known for doing nothing positive or meaningful in the world). Yes, Caitlyn’s transition is absolutely abnormal for the vast majority of the Trans population.

How Goddamn motherfucking hard is it to acknowledge a person’s humanity? Jesus Christ. You’re willing to believe there’s a man who lives in the fucking sky who sees and knows all and lives in the past, present, and future simultaneously, but you can’t DARE be bothered to use the correct preferred pronoun for someone?

I know women as still viewed as weak, inferior beings and undeserving of autonomy, but that’s a bigger problem in this country (and the world) than Caitlyn Jenner. Every movement needs heroes and villains. It took the American Society all of about 8 minutes to prove itself as the villain.

There are many out there who are doing and saying the right things to support others (not dust in the Trans community, but we’ll focus there for now). It is, again, to NOBODY’S surprise that the loudest opponents to using a correct pronoun and recognizing a person’s humanity are the people on far-right. The Christian conservatives, naturally, but that’s because they are all fucked in the head and are too busy supporting the Duggar family for protecting their molester son. The social conservatives…Jesus Christ, I don’t even try to understand them as a separate entity from the Christian right. These jack wagons are the group most closely related to the gamer gate movement. Anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-social legislation. They are the group defending the rights of white men against the looming fear of not-white-men moving anywhere up in the world.

These assclappers on the right, man. And these are the first jagaloons to yell and scream “NOT ALL COPS ARE BAD!” after another white cop shoots and kills a black or brown skinned person without cause. Well, not all conservatives are bad, but the vocal yahoos make it bad for everyone. See how that works? If 99% of police are good, upstanding people, they all Bear the taint of their rotten 1%. Same goes with the far right. There are some decent people, some who I call friends, who are strongly conservative but can avow themselves the dignity to differentiate from the caterwaul of ignorant stupidity to come crawling form the mouths of the feckless so-called leaders in Washington.

The onus is on the few remaining sane people on the conservative side to right this ship. The conservative movement has been, for a long time, become one of exclusion, privilege, and dynastic entitlement. I would be remiss to mention that, in America, those terms apply to only one sex and one race. And those white men are scared shitless that a brown person or a woman or, heaven forbid, a brown woman can make it somewhere. That “those” people can actually climb the ladder out of poverty and break the cycle of historic, systemic racism and sexism.

And here we are. Who ever would have guessed that Caitlyn Jenner would be the Lexington and Concord of this war? Refusing to acknowledge Caitlyn Jenner as “Caitlyn” reveals way more about you, your world view, and the society you want than most anything else you can show or say. And, to be frank, I don’t think I want to know you or have you be part of the world I live in.

Penguins Postmortem: Part 1

28 04 2015

On the bus with the kids end route to Raleigh for the visit to State. Just kinda musing to myself now about the Penguins and the NHL and life in general…

1. Ben Lovejoy is not a great defenseman. That’s not the argument. Lovejoy is a more than competent bottom pair guy. He was a nightmare I  the playoffs because, frankly, he’s not that good and he certainly should not have been playing in the top pair, but the injury situation changed all of that. If your third pair is Lovejoy and Dumoulin or Harrington or Chorney, or even as the 7th D when injuries happen, you’re in a good spot. He’s a cheap veteran player. Going on a rant about how awful he is does nothing. He’s got another year of term, provides cost certainty, and can be a useful depth player. Let that dead horse finally rest.

2. The Penguins had to pay for the sins of the Father this past year. That’s just how it goes. Ray Shero, in effect, destroyed this team. Because of his trading style (gambling) and drafting philosophy (draft on defensemen with your 2 picks you didn’t trade away), the Pens are perpetually backed into a corner and need to then trade more assets and picks for depth players that normally would be filled in via draft (or minor trade or low-cost free agents). As soon as the team identifies a player they want, that player knows they can demand more because the Pens had no other options. The team could, of course, not sign the player and, instead, keep signing Craig Adams and Mike Rupp and Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale. So, when people bitch and whine and bemoan Nick Spaling, keep in mind that Rutherford had his hands tied by the previous regime and had to sign a depth player to a slightly inflated contract because, frankly, there’s nobody to step in.

3. Mike Johnston is everything you want in a coach…you just don’t like his demeanor. Johnston is a calm, reserved guy. He seems aloof. He seems like everything has happened for the first time.

That’s actually the kind of guy I want coaching a team. He’s not some fly-off-the-handle lunatic every time something doesn’t go his way. He’s not working the refs like some strumpet at a massage parlor. He keeps a level, even head during and after games because he’s analyzing everything going on around him. He’s taking it all in, adapting, adjusting, tweaking, and reinforcing.

How are any of those bad qualities? Why do Pens fans want someone like Tortorella? Some screaming, ranting maniac who cannot help but make himself the story? Why? Because he’s an “ass-kicker” who doesn’t take shit from spoiled pretty boys? You know who else doesn’t? Joel Quenneville and Barry Trotz. They also happen to be hugely successful coaches who have earned the respect of their players and the rest of the league, as opposed to demanding respect because they have loud voices.

Mike Johnston just completed his first season with a completely broken team and franchise. Let’s see where things go next year. Only then can we truly assess what kind of coach he ultimately will be. He has the qualities a great coach needs. It’s up to him make the team his own now.

4. Jim Rutherford is more than competent and actually did a good job of changing some of the culture around the team. People want to make him a failure. Those people are also morons.

There has been so much lamenting for the departed Shero and Bylsma tandem that it’s sickening.

What these people have shown is that they have been watching the Penguins since February of 2009 when Dan Bylsma was brought in. It also shows a willful ignorance to understand anything about the sport on a grander scale.

Jim Rutherford came into a situation where he could not win. There was too much already broken for him to be able to fix in just a season. And, frankly, he isn’t the guy who is doing the fixing. He’s keeping the ship afloat while a leader emerges among the cabal of assistants.

Maybe, just maybe, he knows what he’s doing. Maybe Jason Botterill, the savior and Angel of the lingering Shero devotees in Penguin-land, isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. For someone who is allegedly a wizard with numbers, he sure allowed the team to go to financial Hell this year.

And who took the blame? Rutherford. Because that is what a leader actually does. Maybe none of those GMs-in-waiting are any good. Maybe they are. All I know is that the organization didn’t trust Botterill with the keys to the kingdom after Shero got fired and the cap became their enemy this year. Who ever would have guessed?

5. Salary cap is both the friend and enemy of this team. The Pens are a team that is notoriously strapped for cash and up against the cap. Assuming the NHLPA uses the elevator, next year’s cap will be a solid increase.  The Pens, for the first time in a long while, actually have a borderline substantial amount of caps pace to use this summer.

The roster will see some big changes. Most notably, Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff will come off the blue line and off the books. That’s 9 million just from two guys who aren’t “needed” any longer.

I suspect, and I have no evidence to prove it, that Lapierre may be the only UFA to return. I’m not entirely sure what Beau Bennett does, either. They could keep him or they could let him walk.  Either way, the roster will change.

The defense will see changes, too, but they will be cheaper, younger, and faster. Assuming all players return healthy (that’s a different discussion), the team should (and will) buyout the contract of Rob Scuderi. Even with the dead money, the cost savings from the buyout + replacing with a cheap ELC is a net positive.

In theory, the Pens will have between 15 and 20 million to sign necessary players.  Which leads me to…

6. The as of right now roster. As I see it, and, again, I am an idiot and don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground, this is how I see the roster shaking out

Top 6 becomes any combo of the following:


Pens need to address the top 6 wing position, but they have the money to be a legitimate player. What they don’t have, necessarily, is the means to make a trade for one unless they are willing to move a Dumoulin or Harrington.

Bottom six becomes a combo of:


I don’t see the team buying out both Scuderi and Kunitz. And Scuderi is the more important buyout. I don’t really see a spot for Bennett if Dupuis is healthy. Yes, I know, Dupuis could fill the spot on Crosby’s RW, but I think he’s better served in the bottom six. I may be wrong. Likewise, I really think Bobby Farnham has earned a place with the team. He’s a psycho who is tough as nails and can just annoy the shit out of a team. Put him with Lapierre and I can enjoy a good troll show.

On defense, I see it like this:


I could see the team carry 7 D and roatate guys in and out of the bottom pair. Regardless, that defensive corps has a lot of skill and speed and natural instinct, but not a lot of experience. I think all of those players, though, fit what Johnston wants to do and their inexperience will be a non-issue come playoff time.

That’s where I’m leaving things for now. I will hopefully have time to look at some other aspects later in part 2. Who knows if Part 2 ever actually happens.

Please read, watch, and vote

30 03 2015

Hey guys,

I don’t do a lot of this type of promoting and begging, but the times they are a changing.

My school is participating in the annual Fox50 Lipdub challenge and we have a chance of winning $10,000 for our school. We are a small school and getting the word out there is integral to having a chance against the bigger schools.

Please go to the following link and vote for the video for “Cross Creek Early College High School.” This was my directorial debut as well as my planning and design. My Glee Club did an amazing job planning it and pacing it, practicing and designing the whole thing. Our kids put time and effort into creating posters and dances and routines for each room. It took a ridiculous amount of work and I would appreciate your votes.

You may vote as many times as you like and every vote matters. Please help spread the word and help us win $10,000!

The link:

Go there and vote “Cross Creek Early College High School”

The Penguins vs reality

8 02 2015

The following is transcribed from a series of Tweets I made on Sunday afternoon.

Guys, it’s time for some

Maybe this is a shock to you, but…*psssst* The Penguins are not going to win the Stanley Cup this year. They never were going to. This season was lost years ago when the at-that-time management and coaching group continually drafted poorly (or not at all courtesy of trading away picks for rental players). Can’t continue to draft only one positional depth and waste those talents year after year and be a legitimate team year in, year out. They gambled and went all in on 2013 and Dan Bylsma and his “system” lost the gamble.

In one off-season and 2/3 of a played season, Jim Rutherford and his company have done A TON to wash out the stink of the Shero/DB years but it will take at least one more to get this to be Mike Johnston’s and Jim Rutherford’s team. Too many bad personnel on continuing contracts coming into this year. Just enjoy what we have – which is a Pens team that is, for the first time in years, fun to watch.

If by some miracle the Pens make it out of the 1st round, consider it a rousing victory. Anything beyond round 1 is gravy. GMJR has done a lot of great things – trading away Neal for a more reliable, less problematic goal scorer, bringing in Perron, getting Ehrhoff on the cheap for a year, giving Mike Johnston an opportunity in the NHL, etc. He addressed immediate needs at the draft AND addressed depth. Jim Rutherford did more FOR the Penguins in less than 1 calendar year than Ray Shero did in the last 5.

And, imagine that, not being a xenophobic assclown opens up the possibilities in terms of personnel. Amazing who you can find when you open yourself to the possibility that people with European sounding names might actually, you know, be capable players.

So, Ottawa, you have fun with Ray Shero when you inevitably hire him to replace Bryan Murray. Enjoy when he hires Dan Bylsma, too.

Is Mike Johnston perfect? No. No coach is. Babcock has his faults. Quennville makes boneheaded decisions. No coach is -perfect-. Because HCMJ has made some weird choices and mistakes does not magically make him a failure. He’s a rookie coach. He needs to learn, too. Hell, you bunch of goat pokers gave Dan Bylsma 5+ years to learn and defended him to the ends of the earth. Many of you still defend him.

Dan Bylsma was the exact perfect guy to come in AFTER the Therrien regime. He more-or-less allowed the players to play up to their abilities. 2010 was excusable – two deep Cup runs and Montreal caught lightning in a bottle. 2011 can be thrown out because of devastating injuries. 2012? That was probably the best Pens team headed into playoffs and that series vs Philly was lost ENTIRELY on the back of Dan Bylsma.

I know, the players need to play, but that was entirely a failure of leadership from the coaching staff to keep that team glued together. And, of course, we know what happened in 2013. The loss to Boston was truly, truly embarrassing. And we’re not even going to talk about how Iginla was used, the picks for Douglas Murray, and the absolute refusal to try anything at all different against the Bruins.

Last year was, to the surprise of nobody who had been paying attention, another laughable failure. Shero’s abject REFUSAL to fire DB was his undoing. He had to prove, above all else, that Ray Shero was right. Just as Dan Bylsma was more concerned with proving that Dan Bylsma was right. It was no longer about what’s right for the team. It became what was right for Ray and Dan. The team paid the price.

So, the poor drafting continues and the trading away of valuable picks continues and the young players who did get drafted languish in the AHL or get shipped out for nothing or get lost to waivers. And Shero refused to fire Bylsma until there were no other options.

Mario and Burkle had to step in and fire Shero. And “allow” the new GM to fire Bylsma. And I am PERFECTLY OK with how he was handled. His stubborn fuckery cost that team years of the prime of so many star players. Let him twist in the wind and miss out on a job or two.

So, here we are. The Pens are going through what should have happened last season if DB/RS had been fired after the BOS series. So, instead, because of Shero’s hubris, we wast, effectively, two more years of these players primes. There is no guarantee they would have won any more Cups, but you would at least be trying something different in the primes of the career arcs for these players.

So, enjoy what we’re seeing now, especially the play of the “new” Marc-Andre Fleury, and try to keep the jam levels low. They’re not winning a Cup this year. But there is a LOT to be excited about and, frankly, it’s mostly thanks to the miracle Rutherford has been able to create since June. over and out.