Trouble in Pittsburgh starts at the top

Think about it this way: If they were to flame out in the first round to, say, the Detroit Red Wings or — gasp — the Columbus Blue Jackets, what would be the aftermath?

Ray Shero wouldn’t be in trouble. Never mind that he erred at the most recent trade deadline by putting all of his eggs in Ryan Kesler’s basket, only to watch Matt Moulson, Thomas Vanek and others snapped up elsewhere. Or that, in presented with the fairly basic task of filling out the bottom six forwards, he has uncovered little more than Kenny the Kangaroo-sized wannabe scorers. Or that he has presided over eight disastrous drafts that have produced Olli Maatta, Robert Bortuzzo and a laundromat’s worth of wasted ceremonial sweaters.

Dan Bylsma wouldn’t be in trouble, either. If he could survive last summer’s chalkboard bullying from Claude Julien, he certainly should expect to survive any fate befalling a team with so many injuries. Never mind that Bylsma is the one guiding this group that doubts its own character and discipline. Or that, mere minutes after he somewhat blandly panned the Penguins’ abominable effort in that 3-2 loss to a tired Phoenix team, it was announced that he had called off practice for Wednesday. No word if ice cream was on the menu.

Crosby, of all people, wouldn’t have any aspect of his play or personality called into question. Never mind that he’s the one wearing the “C” while word emanates from the locker room Tuesday night that it was Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi and Brandon Sutter who tore into the troops.

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