Games like this make you question everything you thought you knew about your team. Not just their system, or their match-ups, or their talent, decision-making, or skill, but what kind of men they are. What kind of people they are.
Series like this are make or break for a team’s identity. They’re what get players traded, coaches fired.
If you think that seems melodramatic, it’s not. Stranger things have happened in hockey. When you have a series – and then a game – so embarrassing, so out of the ordinary, so…team-defining in a tragic way, sometimes, reactions are swift and severe. This post included, probably.
In the immediate aftermath of a game like this, no one should be held accountable for what they say regarding the Penguins, particularly not when the entire Penguins fanbase was probably drinking heavily after midway through the first period.
Still, in my decades of following the Penguins, this is the first time I have ever been embarrassed, disgusted, completely let down by the team I love so much. That wasn’t a game. That was a step backward in the evolution of hockey.
Maybe it’s good the Penguins have so much time off until the next game, good that they’re not playing until Wednesday. It’s going to be a long, long three days for them, and you know what? I’m glad for that. Good. I hope they have trouble sleeping the next three days, I hope they beat themselves up, I hope they take it to heart and I hope it hurts. I hope it hurts bad. It should. I hope they spend the next three days taking a long, hard look in the mirror at themselves, and I hope they hate what they see. I know their fans sure did.
I hope Dan Bylsma also takes this to heart, too, because, while the players have been getting a lot of the blame, he also deserves a heaping portion of “this is your fault” from the world. His system isn’t working. I don’t know if it’s because the Penguins are having too many mental lapses to stick to his system, or if it’s because his system just does not work against the Flyers, but this stay-the-course business for the last three games has clearly not worked. At all. And it doesn’t appear as if he has a Plan B in place. How do you excuse that?
Lemieux, too. I hope he was as embarrassed by this game as Pens fans were. I hope he thought of the letter he wrote to the league after last year’s Islanders debacle and felt the shame that every Pens fan is feeling right now. I hope it pisses him off, embarrasses him, prompts him to make a rare locker room appearance and lay into his team – HIS team – and let them know this is NOT Penguins hockey, that this is NOT acceptable, and that they ARE better than this.
Because they ARE better than this. I have to believe that. We all have to believe that. THEY have to believe that, too. Because this was not Penguins hockey. Not at all. I’m not even sure this could be called hockey at all. But I hope they understand that and I hope it burns. When Mike Lange can not keep the disgust from his voice, when his anger for what he is watching unfold in front of him is apparent, then you have a lot of soul-searching to do.
They all have a lot of soul-searching to do, Dan Bylsma included. I sincerely hope three days is enough, but honestly, at this point…I don’t know. For the first time in my life as a Pens fan, I can honestly say I don’t know if I have enough faith in them to keep.
I just…fuck. I don’t even know what to say anymore. I’m slightly drunk right now, so I’m sure I’ll read this later tonight or tomorrow and want to erase it. But as of right now, I’m a ship without a rudder.
Just…ugh. I don’t even know. My mind is flatlining.