Of all that went down at CONSOL Energy Center this afternoon _ it took three official press releases to sort it all out _ the most significant development was this:
Bill Guerin is about to become, as new general manager Jim Rutherford put it, a “day-to-day guy that really communicates with the players.”
Guerin’s official title is “assistant general manager” but he’s not going to be that in the traditional sense.
Guerin will instead be once again what he was brought here to be in 2009, a guy to help Sidney Crosby lead.
It’s just that this time Guerin won’t be playing.
That the Penguins have recognized the need for someone in the organization to play such a role for something more than a limited engagement represents their last, best hope at gleaning something truly special from what has become a dynasty in the making stuck on one Stanley Cup.
Guerin contributed mightily to that one.
Before him there was Gary Roberts.
After came Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow.
Anyone else sensing a bit of a trend?
It’s been that way because Sidney Crosby’s leadership isn’t the verbal type, and because no one around him has been capable of adequately picking up that slack.
The Pens’ latest response isn’t so much an indictment of Crosby’s inability to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said as it is an acknowledgement that Crosby’s leadership is by example and that there are times when that just isn’t enough.
Rutherford, from afar, has noticed a “quiet” locker room.
And as the Penguins have become painfully aware in recent seasons, that doesn’t cut it.
They’ve re-enlisted Guerin to do something about it.
He’s been around at times in his former role of player development coach, but he was also in Wilkes-Barre at other times and on the road watching college and junior prospects at still other times.
Now, the plan is for one of the most popular and most impactful players in Penguins history to become for Rutherford in Pittsburgh what Ron Francis had been to Rutherford in Carolina.
“Not long ago he was a player,” Rutherford said of Guerin. “I would suspect here that the players like him and it becomes a trust level. If you’re going to deal with issues, not that players are going to make decisions or run the team, but they have to speak up.
“Having a guy around the players a little bit more that’s not the boss, I think, makes it easier for the players to communicate.”
That’s gotta be an all-the-time thing, not just in the dressing room before Game 7.
“Looking at it from the outside I suspect that we have good character in that room but it’s quiet,” Rutherford continued. “It’s a quiet approach where you don’t have one or two guys that can stand up in the room and say ‘this is what’s really going on.’
“From a character point of view I don’t think there’s an issue. But to have somebody that’s a little more vocal, or a couple of guys, I suspect that’s probably needed.”
It’ll be up to Guerin to pull that from as many players as necessary.
There is no more critical role in the Penguins’ reorganized organization, and won’t be even after a new head coach is identified and hired.
Because as much as Rutherford wants to talk about analytics and adjustments what has been plaguing the Penguins is still mostly about accountability.
To become more than they’ve been they have to become more engaged, more involved, more of a team.
And that has to come and can only come from the players.
The new assistant GM/big brother/team shrink can be the catalyst.
“I know these players and there are character players in there,” Guerin said. “Sometimes, you need character. Sometimes you need characters, too.
“We’ll figure it out.”