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Credible or Incredible? Looking at Ladewski’s take…

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Paul Ladewski, who is apparently a 23 year veteran of the Baseball Writers Association of America (according to his Wikipedia page), should probably stick to writing about baseball, as a hockey piece he published yesterday afternoon on http://piratesreport.com has him in hot water with Penguins fans.

Ladewski is the current editor of the Pirates Report website. He took over for the great John Perratto upon the latter’s termination for telling it like was about the “Battling Bucs.” Coincidentally, the Pirates Report is owned “by Ogden Newspapers, which is controlled, if not owned outright, by the Nutting family.” (Thanks to Bob Smizik’s blog for the info.)

If you didn’t know, the Nuttings own the Pittsburgh Pirates… Yep, the same bunch that has 17 consecutive losing seasons under its belt and is well on its way to its 18th.

Upon reading the article, which has since been removed from the Pirates Report site, I had to check the calendar… was it April Fool’s Day? Could it have been a prank piece, tugging the collective leg of not only Penguins’ fans but Pittsburgh fans everywhere?

Nope… it was May 19th and it seemed to be a legitimate piece trying to point out ALL of the Penguins’ failings over the past five seasons.

Ladewski attempted to paint four consecutive trips to the playoffs, two Stanley Cup Finals appearances, a Cup victory and this year’s elimination as a failure that is on par with or worse than that of the Pirates’ 17 losing seasons.

Truth be told the guy doesn’t even have his facts straight, as he points out that the Penguins “have gone belly-up in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years in the Sidney Crosby era.” If they went belly up last season, I must have missed it as they were celebrating their Championship, which came in the third “belly-up” season. In fact, if you wanted to make the reference, it would technically be going belly-up in two of four years, as it is tough to categorize coming up two wins short of a Cup in 08-09 as a failure.

Ladewski goes on to point out how the Penguins’ draft failings are comparable to those of the Pirates and compares Marc Andre Fleury, who was selected number 1 overall in 2003 to that of Bryan Bullington, one of many failed Pirate number 1s.

Pure and simple, like the Pirates over the years, the Penguins have made mistakes in the draft and the open market. Lots of them.

For instance, take the 2003 draft, in which the Penguins owned the No. 1 pick on the heels of a anorexic 65-point season. (Yes, Bubba, they were dog breath themselves not that long ago.) The golden rule states that you never, ever select a goaltender at the No. 1 pick, but the Penguins chose Marc-Andre Fleury, anyway. Here are some of players that they could have taken instead — Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Shea Weber . . .

Hey, maybe Bryan Bullington wasn’t that bad, after all. Sorry, forget I wrote that.

Sorry Paul, we can’t forget that you wrote it… luckily Penguins’ management forgot that you aren’t supposed to draft goalies first overall.

Someone should remind Ladewski that the Buccos passed on the likes of BJ Upton, Zach Greinke, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and countless others who have had an impact in the Major Leagues that season. Each and every one of those players would be an upgrade over those guys patrolling the bank over on the North Shore.

All Marc Andre Fleury has done since he was drafted is win 148 regular season games, 38 playoff games, post 20 shutouts (4 in the playoffs), and win a Stanley Cup. Bust city if you ask me.

Ladewski goes on to bash the Penguins system as not having produced a 30 goal scoring winger, even though they have been blessed with a bevy of top five picks…

Here it is, five years after Crosby was drafted, and the guy still doesn’t have a regular linemate that is in the same zip code as his talent level. Quick — name the last legit 30-goal-scorer to be developed in the Penguins farm system.

I have an answer: Evgeni Malkin.

Sure, he isn’t often used on the wing, but he did find a way to eek into an Art Ross Trophy two seasons ago and was in the race until the final moments of the 08-09 season as well. The team also drafted Jordan Staal who scored 29 goals as a 18-year-old and has developed into one of the best defensive forwards in the league.

Yes the team does need to find a way to upgrade itself on the wings, but Paulie neglects to mention that while they were missing out on top wingers, they were selecting stars in Malkin, Staal, Brooks Orpik and several others who were all instrumental in winning a Championship — something that our Buccos haven’t done since I was 4 years old.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a piece bashing the Pittsburgh Pirates. I respect what Neil Huntington is trying to do over there, but his hands are largely tied by the same man that clearly had his hand up Ladewski’s backside when yesterday’s piece was written.

I realize that Paulie doesn’t want to meet the same fate as his predecessor, but get real my man. Trying to convince folks that the Pirates wouldn’t be better off with a new owner is complete folly. I am thinking that he realized that himself, thus prompting the removal of the piece.

Was losing to the eighth seeded Canadiens disappointing? Sure… was it 17 years worth of disappointment? Not even close…

Here is a link to the cached version of the Pirate Report piece. As I said on Twitter… you can’t hide on the Internet.

Pirate Report: Like Bucs, Penguins still have work to be done

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About Brian Metzer

Profile photo of Brian Metzer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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11 Comments

  1. Dirk

    May 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

    …. sigh. Belly up seems like a derogatory term and really.. getting knocked out by Ottawa wasn’t even a failure to me because that was the first trip into the post season in years. That was an accomplishment all by itself. A loss in the finals? No way. Championship..duh. Was losing to Montreal disappointing and a bit of a flop, sure. To tear apart the management and draft picks is a joke.

  2. ej6687

    May 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Technically, Malkin doesn’t count as a player that scored 30 goals, based on his limited criteria, since he was never “developed in the Penguins farm system”.

    Actually, if he would have just stuck to the “the Pens need to develop their prospects better” theme, he might have had something of a decent point. Yet, he muddled it with a bunch of nonsense and garbage.

  3. Evilpens

    May 20, 2010 at 11:02 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ladewski See if you can tell what I added to his resume ! : )

  4. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Brian Metzer

    May 20, 2010 at 11:07 am

    You had to have added that last job, in which he worked for an outlet that charged for other folks content?? 😉

  5. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Brian Metzer

    May 20, 2010 at 11:08 am

    @ej6687 agreed about Malkin…not the best example. However, my point was that they hadn’t exactly been focused on drafting wingers at that point…

    Thanks for the read!

  6. Evilpens

    May 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

    BINGO !!! Metz that’s why you get the Big, Big Bucks

  7. Skaboy107

    May 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I almost sent an email directly to Ladewski, but it wasn’t really worth my time. I’m just dumbfounded at how a sport writer could spew such horrible nonsense. That really affirms my commitment to not attending Pirates games until the Nuttings sell.

  8. mag66

    May 21, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Metz great article and very un-hot-headed which is something very difficult to do in response to this article. All i have to say is…if the last five years is the penguins going “belly up” Ill take TWO (fives years of belly up) a DECADE and die a very, very happy man. GO PENS!!!

  9. mag66

    May 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

    @ej6687 – but when you have an eye to draft such NHL ready players like Malkin and Staal you dont need to develope them in the minors. They get their training at the NHL level cause that is where they belong. the reason why there seems to be a lack of developement is cause those really tallented players that would be developed there, were drafted, and already NHL ready.

  10. Gunner Staal

    May 21, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Anybody who leaves Cal Ripken off of the ballot for the Hall of Fame should lose their vote. This guy is a clown and anything he writes should be ignored.

    Nice writeup exposing his terrible article Brian, Im not a Pittsburgh native nor do I live there but it still makes me sick that there are people like him that get paid to do what he does.

    I am an Orioles fan and just like the Pirates, my team is going nowhere with the current ownership.

  11. jws66

    May 26, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I’m a little late to the game here, but what was Paul thinking? My grandfather, who taught me everything great about baseball, and the Pirates, just rolled in his grave AGAIN. Mr. Ladewski’s analysis is jaded at best, but as Metz said, “at least get your facts straight”. We all cry the “small market blues” when it comes to MLB, but even when the Pirates have had money and high draft picks, their baseball choices have been atrocious. Brian’s list of passed over MLB prospects was kind. The inept decision making that led the Pirates to 18 yrs “and counting” of frustration, is impressive and very hard to accomplish. To compare that, to the Penguins last 5 yrs is lunacy. You think the Pirates would like the equivalent baseball talents of Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik, Colby Armstrong, and Ryan Whitney from their first round drafts? All of these players are “good at worst” players in the NHL right now. Many have won a championship, and all have played a significant role in the Penguins current success. The Pens have made good choices when given the opportunities. That includes the hirings of Craig Patrick and Ray Shero. Both men have had ups and downs, but the balance of their actions are way in the black. Who in the Pirate’s front office can say the same? This spring was a disappointment to all Penguin fans. That happens in sports, more often than not. Championships are special and we in Pittsburgh have been blessed. The Pens will emerge from this recent setback recharged and better for it. I’m quite confident of that. I just wish I could say the same thing for the Pirates. Maybe next year(s)?…..