PITTSBURGH (KDKA 93-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma joined Vinnie and Cook on a rare off day. Bylsma talked about the play that earned James Neal a five-game suspension.
“He certainly makes a poor judgement, he goes out of his way or doesn’t get out of his way, even makes an attempt to go in the direction of (Brad) Marchand when he’s down. I don’t think you set out the game to hurt the other guy, hurt the guy across from you,” Bylsma said. “The emotions of the game do carry you to a certain point, but it is really inexplicable and we do have to get that kind of action out of the game. James is paying for it, and it’s something he’s got to look at and get better at.”
Cook asked Bylsma if suspensions need to be tougher to get dirty play out of the game.
“It’s been my opinion that yes, they do need to be tougher,” Bylsma said. “When we’ve received some suspensions here in Pittsburgh, with the Matt Cooke incident, it seemed like a long suspension (10 games regular season, seven in the playoffs), but I think it certainly sent a message. I think it certainly had an effect on the game.”
Bylsma added that sometimes one or two-game suspensions don’t send enough of a message.
Bylsma was asked if fighting has a role in the game.
“I do believe that fighting in the game has a role, it does have an effect on the game, it does police the game to a degree. When it’s not there, you certainly see an effect on the game in the opposite direction where people start to take liberties, people start to go after and take cheap shots because there is no retribution because they don’t face that,” Bylsma said.
Bylsma added that he’s not in favor of so-called enforcers who only play a few shifts per game fighting each other because it doesn’t police the game at all.
Bylsma discussed the team’s depth on defense, which he called “remarkable.” Bylsma also told the guys what goes into evaluating players for the U.S. Olympic team, and how they factor injuries into the equation.