Owners favor firing Bylsma; Shero status undetermined

by: Rob Rossi, TribLIVE Updated:

PITTSBURGH —

Penguins ownership is into a second straight day of meetings that are expected to determine the future of general manager Ray Shero, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review.

No decision had been made as of Wednesday morning, but ownership was contemplating the firing of Shero along with coach Dan Bylsma, the sources said.

(This article was written by Rob Rossi, a staff writer at Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)

Ownership is not satisfied with the direction of the franchise and feels Shero specifically tethered himself to Bylsma, who he signed to a two-year extension after the Penguins were swept from the Eastern Conference final last June, the sources said.

That is why the term of Bylsma's deal was made to run concurrent with the final years remaining on Shero's contract, the sources said. If Bylsma were deemed necessary to replace, Shero would be held accountable, the sources said.

Ownership favored firing Bylsma as of Wednesday, the sources said.

Ownership believed Bylsma lost the dressing room this season, specifically the support of franchise centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the sources said.

Players were unhappy with Bylsma's numerous meetings and long practices and the decreasing sense of fun within the Penguins' daily environment, the sources said.

Crosby and Malkin also grew disenchanted with perceived harsh criticism they received from Bylsma during meetings, the sources said.

Also, the sources said, ownership was concerned about the Crosby's body language during the playoffs.

No members of the Penguins were available for comment on Wednesday, vice president of communications Tom McMillan said.

Shero told friends on Tuesday he believed his job was in jeopardy if the Penguins lost Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Rangers, the sources said.

The Penguins lost, 2-1, completing a second blown 3-1 series lead in the last four postseasons. They have lost to a lower-seeded playoff opponent for five consecutive years since winning the Cup in 2009.

Heading into Game 7, the Penguins' majority co-owners were not in complete agreement that Shero should pay the price for a loss. Mario Lemieux, the franchise's iconic former player, slightly favored retaining Shero; but Ron Burkle, a billionaire grocery magnate, firmly believed a new general manager was needed to rebuild a championship contender around Crosby, the sources said.

Lemieux and Burkle also met with close advisors to discuss the state of the franchise while the series was in New York.

Ownership is not happy with a perceived lack of accountability, overall team toughness and poor drafts, the sources said.