If Bucci Says the Penguins Need a Scoring Winger, Uh Oh

Peter TumbasCorrespondent INovember 5, 2008

Do we really miss Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone that much? According to John Buccigross of ESPN, "This team is in desperate need of a scoring winger. The Pens' scorers are adequate, but they don't look to have enough to advance far in the postseason. Marian Hossa would have made all the difference."

First of all, we didn't have Hossa until after the trade deadline and we would have made the playoffs without him. Having said that, he certainly helped us in the Playoffs. It only seems like we miss him because of the personal attachment that Penguins fans have with their players, especially players that greatly assist us in our dreams of capturing the Cup.

Second of all, it is really painful to write that. Consider that Pirate fans are used to good players leaving either in free agency or through trade deadline deals. Steelers fans are comfortable with the fact that the Rooneys will pay no one a penny over what their market value is and even then they barely pay that.

Either way Pittsburgh fans trust that the Pirates will be awful because management makes poor decision and the Steelers will always be in contention because the front office makes great choices.

A few years removed from almost leaving the city, the Penguins arrived at the Stanley Cup finals this spring and faced the Red Wings, a team whose roster miraculously fits under the salary cap. Of course we lost in Game 6, and the talk immediately switched to free agency signings and the prospects of next year.

Here's where it gets sad. A player took slightly less money to go a team he thought had a better chance to win a Stanley Cup. That player was Marian Hossa. And, while I usually am more than happy to condemn players for seeking more money, Hossa supposedly is seeking a championship as well. So much so that he signed a one-year deal.

Not only has Hossa hurt my feelings by not returning to the Penguins, not only has he hurt my feelings by playing very well for the Wings, but he may very well be right. The Red Wings are giving up a ton of goals, not completely surprising since they have an eighty year old man in net.

The Penguins aren't scoring goals and Coach Therrien is juggling lines like a circus clown who chugged a fifth of LSD. And yet despite not having the services of two top defenders including our power play quarterback, the Penguins are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Hossa and the Wings are in second place in the West.

I miss Hossa. I miss our dominating run through the Eastern Conference playoffs. I miss his tinted visor and Warrior gloves. But Hossa isn't coming back so I will continue to play Dashboard Confessional and lock myself in my room. Malone isn't coming back either. Sure he is, was, a native son of Pittsburgh, but if you know anything about Upper St. Clair then you aren't surprised he left for more money.

Gone are talented scoring wingers. In comes Miroslav Satan. I must confess he strikes me as someone the Pirates might sign, a veteran who used to be considered talented—though God knows what that means—and has character issues.

Thankfully the Penguins didn't overpay for him. Ray Shero's intellect is far superior to Neil Huntington's. He's not as talented as Hossa. He's not going to play with a broken nose like Malone. And yet, Satan has six goals in 12 games on pace for 41 this season.

If you had told Penguins fans that Satan was going to cost $3.5 million and score 41 goals, which is actually 12 more than Hossa scored last year, I think we'd be quite thrilled.

The problem playing in a blue-collar town is that it is very demanding yet honest with its players. That being said, Satan doesn't play with the energy level of Malone or the determination of Hossa. He is as lethargic as a NBA player. And some natives are getting restless. John Buccigross ESPN's hockey expert certainly is.

My friends, it's okay, we're 12 games into the season. The offensive chemistry will come, whether or not it's as flashy as Hossa or as gritty as Malone.

We lost Hossa and Malone, not Crosby and Malkin. Relax. I strongly believe that due to Whitney and Gonchar's injuries we wont have another 102 point season, but we'll certainly make the playoffs. No one but the Red Wings wants to play us in a seven game playoff series. I can assure you that.

In all the panic of our 6-4-2 start, the defense has carried us without two of its top players. Fluery is being managed better to avoid injuries and Malkin is playing like he gets a free case of vodka after every shift.

It will be more than okay for the Penguins and their fans—especially if Ray Shero goes out at the trade deadline and brings in another stud. Or will the Hossa incident scare him away?

I trust Ray Shero at the trade deadline. I hope he gunslings his way through another early March day. Malkin, Crosby, and Fluery are signed through 2014. That's your core. The time is now, chemistry be damned. Just get them help if they need it.

Was Satan an acceptable replacement to Hossa? It's difficult to replace a player like Hossa, but maybe we did miss out on a couple of better options.

If the Penguins were willing to spend $3.5 million on Satan, why not offer Markus Naslund the $8 million over two years that the Rangers offered? Naslund scored 40 plus goals in a three-year stretch from 2000-2003.

Surely he would have loved a chance to return to that form playing along side Crosby. I much prefer Naslund's game to Satan's, and as a former Penguin he understands what it's like to play here. Instead, we are assigned with slowing him down.

Sticking in New York and going crazy, Penguins blogs were buzzing for the possible return of Double J 68. I don't even want to think about a power play featuring Jagr, Crosby, Stall in front, Malkin and Gonchar at point. It pumps my chubby.

To really step out on an isolated tree branch, what about Petr Forsberg and Mats Sundin? Sure both are natural centers, but maybe they'd like to play on a wing with Crosby. Or maybe they'd like to center the second line so Malkin can permanently play with Crosby.

Did we try hard enough this past free agency? Did we explore all options? Will we be better off next season?

Wishful thinking for new players either at the trade deadline or in free agency is a lot of fun, but mostly based on myth. Just like the imminent downfall of the Penguins. We'll be fine.


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