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Mehno: Time for Mario to speak up

June 16, 2013
By John Mehno (johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH - We heard loud and clear from Ray Shero last week.

Dan Bylsma is staying, so are his assistant coaches, and so is Marc-Andre Fleury.

That's a pretty emphatic response to some of the major questions that surrounded the Pittsburgh Penguins after Boston swept them in the Stanley Cup conference final.

Ownership, everyone presumes, is on board with Shero's decisions. But who knows for certain?

The Penguins' ownership group is headed by Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, both of whom were seen at the playoffs.

It's unknown what role Burkle has in decisions regarding the Penguins. Burkle, 60, has a fortune of $3.1 billion and made his wealth in the supermarket business. He is involved in a number of food-related industries and is politically active. He probably doesn't closely track Robert Bortuzzo's ice time.

Lemieux, on the other hand, is a hockey lifer who still attends many games, is seen at practices and is obviously current on what's happening in the NHL. However, he rarely speaks publicly.

This is one time when he should. People pay a lot for Penguins tickets, and sellouts have become automatic. TV ratings and merchandise sales are robust. There's a lot of emotion invested in the Penguins.

Owners don't have to be headline-seeking maniacs like George Steinbrenner. But there is a tacit obligation to occasionally address the concerns of the customers.

That's especially true when the team comes up short and there are questions about the direction of the franchise.

Owners of the Steelers and Pirates occasionally speak in public. There's no reason why Lemieux shouldn't.

The biggest zero

When you dissect the Penguins' failure against Boston, start with this: Sidney Crosby played 113 shifts totaling 105 minutes and 28 seconds, and didn't produce a point.

Missing the story

Put this on the long list of why Root Sports coverage can make you crazy: They're so focused on staging a television production that they forget to cover the game.

Last week Gerrit Cole made his major league debut with the Pirates. It was impossible to overdo Cole, the former No. 1 draft pick whose arrival had been long anticipated. He pitched a great game, working into the seventh inning.

Clint Hurdle came to get him, and his teammates converged on the mound. At that moment, Root decided it had to show a long-range crowd shot of the ovation he received. Couldn't the audio deliver that? Instead of cutting to a generic shot of fans, how about showing Cole's interactions with his teammates and Hurdle?

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

 
 
 

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