Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Maybe Littlefield Will Sign Him

Ron Cook has an article in the Post-Gazette today concerning the significance underscoring the Recchi and Roberts signings. His opening lines take aim at the Pirates, insinuating that the Penguins, unlike the town's baseball team, know which veterans are affordable and help perpetuate a certain attitude in the locker room from year to year: mainly, an attitude that focuses on a commitment to winning. Roberts and Recchi provide this; Burnitz, et al, do not.

Our site has already made it pretty clear that we love Roberts and think Shero is the man with the golden touch right now. Yet while re-signing Roberts and Recchi does signal a commitment towards establishing a winning attitude, as Cook suggests, Shero's decision to not make a qualifying offer to Michel Ouellet perhaps says just as much. Yes, the Pens could still re-sign him, and no, Ouellet is not a maddening "project with potential" that eats up a roster spot without contributing anything at all (see: roughly 75% of the Pirates Hall of Shame Ballot).

But Ouellet certainly hasn't been overly impressive. Talbot has earned a reputation as a penalty killer, faceoff man, and forechecker. Colby Armstrong became a head-hunting antagonist when the team needed one in the playoffs. Ruutu played with the type of reckless abandon that made Phil Bourque mention him constantly in post-game recaps. Ouellet? For a while he seemed to have a knack for sitting on the left post and poking pucks in, but last season he was streaky at best.

Shero has seem to made this much clear: you fill a role or we'll fill your roster spot. Ouellet has only played two seasons in the NHL and is 25, but one gets the impression that this team is not interested in waiting around for players to fill their potential. Therrien has always been quick to defend Ouellet, and it will be interesting to see if the Pens re-sign him or not.

End of Post

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