Sunday, June 30, 2013

Enjoy the music and protect your hearing - LugPlugs ™ test

When I was young, I used to go to this rock club and many of my best memories are connected to that place. The owner and DJ, who I funny enough met again for the first time in many, many years right after the Johnossi show last weekend, is probably the person who influenced my taste in music most and with that nothing less than my life.

We had such a blast dancing through every Friday and Saturday night to old and new tunes really mostly all driven by noisy guitar sounds. I have no idea anymore how we managed to spend there so much time given the fact that we had school at 3 Saturday mornings a month and that I was working also for the local newspaper spending my Sunday mornings at the editorial office writing. It seems that I was immune against sleep deprivation and I am very sad that I lost this ability over the years, when you look at the effort and planning it takes me now to get through the hockey playoff season. But when you are that young you simply do not care.
What we also did not care about was the amount of noise we took in every weekend especially hanging out at our favorite spot in the club which was awfully close to one of the giant speaker sets. I mean ... it was the early 90ies, it was Rock 'n' Roll - when it didn't ring in your ears it was simply not loud enough.

Of course there were people (parents, teachers, other annoying creatures) that pointed on us telling us that this was not fun but dangerous and we would all go deaf like Pete Townshend! This is actually proof we had some kind of cool parents and teachers and that we were good kids, because all involved parties at least knew who Pete Townshend is ;). But still ... although the idea of going deaf on too loud music made us shiver a moment it did not change our behavior at all. We kept on dancing and we kept on hanging our heads over the monitors of Rage Against The Machine or Alice In Chains or Kyuss being the front row kids at the shows.

Years later life had naturally slowed down due to studying and then taking on the first more serious jobs although mine was music business related and I kept hanging my had over monitors but just not as frequently anymore. The ears also kept ringing when they got an overdose of noise, but I realized I was shrugging it off less lightly than I did before.
Then finally I went to a show here in Munich a little more than 10 years ago. I am trying very hard to remember what show it was and I think it was Monster Magnet. All was as usual until the next day. Normally the next morning the ringing would be (at least mostly) gone, but ... it wasn't.  My right ear was okay, but my left ear had a pretty annoying ring and it felt blocked. It was like somebody would press on it with a flat hand. That was when I got really scared. Words like "acute hearing loss", "premanent damage", "tinitus" were rushing through my brain and I considered seeing a doctor immediatly and I should have. I ended up not going and giving myself another day to see how it would develop and I was lucky ... it was much better and one more day later I was fine again.

BUT I got the warning signal and when I had to go to the music shop next time to pick up new guitar strings, I asked for earplugs - musician earplugs. I never started using just normal noise cancelling ones or even tried to plug rolled up paper tissues into my ears like many people do at concerts. That was not an option because I LOVE music and if I would look at a future with earplugs then please with plugs that would allow me to still enjoy the sound. So I ended up buying my first set of Alpine MusicSafe.
I remember when I used them the first time I was for a couple of moments super unhappy because I felt the loss of volume and how they filtered the sound, but after a while it felt okay.
And this is a recommendation I have to give to all new users of earplugs at shows:  Do NOT remove them again immediatly because you feel the sound changing (I am not saying getting worse - just changing!). Keep them in, get used to it and it will impact you less and less over time!

I turned into a real believer finally at a Stereophonics show a couple of years ago. I had my earplugs in and I really enjoyed the concert. Before the encore I put the plugs out to talk to my folks and they were all complaining: "The sound is shite. It is way too loud. I hear just ringing and not really the instruments."  And I was like. "Really? I can perfectly hear every detail. I think the sound is great."  They stared at me like I was a Marsian. Then the band came back on stage and I kept my earplugs in my hand and .... GOOD LORD - it was AWFUL! A piercing ringing, brutal noise, the high notes TOTALLY distorted. I hastily put in the plugs again and .... ahhhhh .... music. That is when I finally laid the idea of "earplugs are healthy but are ruining the sound" to rest for good. They just don't - at least not, when you are choosing a high quality product and not go for cotton balls.

I would like to tell you that I went safe ever since, but I didn't. To be honest I still kept my earplugs at home way too often. Sometimes I simply forgot them. More often I got tired to put them in and out during shows when wanted to talk to somebody and had to hold them in my hand. Sometimes it was so dark and crowded that I was sure I would lose the expensive plugs when I would try to finger them out of their little purse to put them in. Sometimes I had  to put them out in less noisy areas like backstage and did not bother to fish them out of the jeans pockets again. It just did not work out really.

BUT then just lately I ran surfing the endless space of the internet into Steve Broadfoot's LugPlugs ™.
Steve is an avid music lover himeself and spent many, many years organizing concerts and working with bands like The View, Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand and others.
The man knows about
a) how loud rock music is
b) how awesome rock music is
c) how much it needs hearing protection especially when you are out at shows a lot
d) how impractical regular earplugs are
e) (and not least importantly) how not cool earplugs usually are. 

Based on all this he came up with a stunningly simple yet awesome idea and worked on it until he was pleased with the result: He attached a set of good earplugs to a lanyard  - the type of laynard you use for your keys and very similar to the ones you use to wear your AAA pass when when you are working at a show.

You can wear your LugPlugs ™ laynyard with your earplugs before and after the show wrapped around your wrist or - like I do it - tugged to your belt or around your neck - where you obviously have it also during the show when you pull out the plugs and put them into your ears.

LugPlugs ™ are available via (also for international orders) as:
- Standard version LugPlugs ™ branded or Biffy Clyro branded
- Musician version LugPlugs ™ branded or Biffy Clyro branded

For bands, venues, all kinds of businesses where hearing protection makes sense - they can be produced with the brand of your request. Please get in contact directly with LugPlugs ™ for pricing and all other needed information.
Also a couple of new, great product extensions and variations are in the pipeline - stay tuned for those!

I - of course - own the Biffy Clyro musician version and how I got them is pretty amazing:
At that time they were not internationally available and I just tweeted 
LugPlugs ™ that I would really LOVE to have the Biffy ones if I only could order them. Within in the shortest time Steve picked up my request and turned around the necessary adjustments at Amazon so that I - and others outside of the UK - could order. He emailed me back often within minutes and  took care of all my annoying questions and requests. You could not meet a nicer person to deal with.

I got my own Biffy earplugs very quickly together with some more sets I passed on to friends who go to concerts very often and everybody liked them. I FINALLY got around to test my own set last weekend (I had a long dry period with no shows here) and can now share the experience from my own perspective. 

Here you see my plugs: 

Biffy Clyro Musician Version 

Biffy Clyro Musician Version - deconstructed

Like you can see in the first picture they come looking like nothing but a cool Biffy Clyro lanyard with the plugs tugged in safely in little pockets at the inside of the lanyard.
The two halfs are at one end connected with a click clasp (goes behind your neck when you wear them) and a Velcro fastner at the other end. The actual earplugs are connected with the lanyard so you cannot lose them and you can put them in and out like you want to without ending up with plugs in your hand or crumbled up deep down in your pockets are or - even worse - your earplugs falling down to a dirty floor in the darkness of a venue. 

The most important part of the test came of course at the Johnossi show (perfect band to test because the club was small and the band is really loud)  when it was all about the sound and I came out of it as a happy camper. The volume reduction is just fine. It was still loud like a rock show but just not so over the top anymore. I am a bass person and so I was happy that not much gets lost here. The most significant reduction through the filters comes for the high notes, where the LugPlugs ™ cut of the painful peaks. 

I tested it all around ... no plugs for the first couple of songs (I thought the sound was fine). Then we moved closer to the stage and I put the plugs in. After the one song it took me too adjust it was really fine from the sound perspective. Finally towards the end I pulled the plugs for a moment in front of stage just to check on the difference and was like "OUCH!".
My ears had so well adjusted to the sound through the plugs that the unfiltered one almost bit me and I quickly put them back in. The plugs are soft and I had no issues to wear them for quite a while. I also realized a difference in the filters from my old plugs: I did not have to pull them when I talked to my friend. Her voice came through just good enough to communicate. 

And finally - we should  just not fake that this is not important because it really is - although this was a show of another very cool band I loved to show of my piece of Biffy merch and the whole lanyard set up does not look awkward at all, which is a big pro.

I am really happy with my LugPlugs ™ and cannot wait to wear them to the upcoming shows this fall which will include hopefully the one or other Biffy Clyro fall tour concert and I TOTALLY plan (ticket is here already) to hang my head over the monitors of Queens Of The Stone Age at the front row here in Munich in November. That is when my ears will need their new bodyguards very urgently.

On a final note:  Like I earlier said
Steve is fantastic and I absolutely love to support small businesses based on a good idea driven by great people with passion and love for what they are doing. Steve's story is also touching me for some very personal reasons (you will see in the video). I wish him and his family all the very best from the bottom of my heart and of course much and well deserved success for LugPlugs ™ . 

I invite you to watch this super cool videos by
BBC Scotland about Steve and how he started LugPlugs ™ .  Thanks a lot to the man himself for putting this on YouTube because we out of UK people sadly cannot watch the official BBC streams! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll - Johnossi in Duesseldorf

Johnossi  - Duesseldorf, ZAKK - 22 June 2013

Life always has other plans than the ones you made - that's not exactly new, but it proofs itself right again and again. 

My trip to Cologne and Duesseldorf was planned for quite some time already. My dear friend Anita had invited me for the weekend to drive together to Tilburg in the Netherlands on Sunday night to catch my boys of The Black Crowes on their European tour. I had initially not planned to go since there were no dates in Germany and none even kind of close to Munich, but when Anita offered to do the two hours drive from Cologne for me I did not think twice, got tickets and booked my flights up North. 

When the trip came closer I got a message from Anita that the Swedish band Johnossi would play the night before The Black Crowes in Duesseldorf and asked if I would be in for that one as well. Sure, was my reply. There is nothing sweeter than a double live music weekend and I had missed Johnossi in Munich due to my US trip earlier this spring.

I had listened to a couple of Johnossi songs before but honestly not that many and not that often. I kind of liked what I had heard but the band was not really in my focus - until Saturday, when the boys played a FANTASTIC live show - loud, fun, mystic, intensive ... brilliant. I am very grateful they stopped on their way to play some festivals and totally ROCKED the ZAKK club, because it turned out they were the only band we would see this weekend:
Saturday night at 11 pm I got an email that The Black Crowes show was cancelled due to illness. That usually would have made me really sad (and I am indeed still sad and dissapointed), but it wasn't THAT bad because when I got the message I was still on a real live music high thanks to John & Ossi and their new 3rd man on stage, keyboarder Matthias

This is the first tour ever Johnossi play as a trio. Before Matthias joined the line up only guitarist and singer John Engelbert ....

... and Drummer Oskar (Ossi) Bonde would rock together. 

No bass player, no 2nd guitarist - nothing. Just John and Ossi

The two met already as teenagers growing up near Stockholm and started their Indie duo Johnossi in 2004. The first record was released not much later in 2005. 

The band got a little more successful with every record and every tour. They got known by an international audience by touring with other Swedish bands like Mando Diao, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Hives or The Shout Out Louds and their own club and festival tours. 

Earlier this year Johnossi released their 4th album "Transitions" which they now promote on the road. The first single was the catchy "Gone Forever".

Johnossi -- Gone Forever - MyVideo

The new songs add keyboard sounds recorded by 
Martin Hederos of The Soundtrack of Our Lives to the basic power mix of guitar, voice & drums. Live now the earlier mentioned Matthias is playing the keyboard on stage. The very special combination of John's voice and Ossi's drums is still the centerpiece of the Johnossi show, but the additional keyboards add new sound elements and allow more variations like you can hear already in the opening track of the show "Into the Wild".

Johnossi -- Into The Wild (Live) - MyVideo

The show itself was louder, crazier, better - by far - than I had expected. I LOVED it and so did the very happy audience in Duesseldorf who rocked along right from the first tune.

Great audience at the ZAKK. This is only the 2nd song! 

We had a blast and it was for sure not our last Johnossi show. Thank you for making our night! 

PS: I was very impressed by the HUGE sound the band created with this very limited instrumentation (John used practically only 2 guitars through the whole night). That is why I took for the guitar nerds out there a pics of John's set up. Check it out ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pittsburgh Penguins Season Wrap Up 2012/2013 - Take the pieces and build them skywards*

Defenseman Douglas Murray #3
© Picture by Mike Miller of

It's over.  

At first I likley need to apologize to my family, friends and blog readers for my abscence, but you know - playoffs!
When you are an European NHL hockey fan and your team goes into the playoffs you face the serious challange of a "live or die" hockey game every 2-3 days (except your team is forced into a silly, momentum destroying 8 days break) that starts about 2 am in the morning and lasts - when you are lucky and do not face OT - until 5 am.  When you have a regular job like I do, it means you either decide that you are just not THAT much of a fan (not an option) or you sacrifice your regular lifestyle for these special weeks and start a very disciplined sleep schedule. I made sure that I had a lot of rest on off days and learned to calm down myself for an early evening pregame sleep and an effective power nap of 1-2 hours afterwards. I have to say that I managed it this year way better than the years before - more discipline paid out. But still ... during the playoffs there is not much room for more than work, sleep and hockey, hockey, hockey. In a way it is the worst but truely also the best time of the year.  And now it is over ...

But before we look at the painful end let's have a look at the beginning of the season that was equally painful just in the opposite way ... because NO HOCKEY! The high voltage drama of this shortened season made us only too easily forget the nightmare we all went through with the 2012 lockout.
As a really passionate fan I can barely hold myself until it is finally training camp and usually cry hot tears over the introduction ceremony at the home opener (would just be so cool if the Pens would learn how to WIN this damn game, too). It means so much to me because I love hockey, I love my team, I love the other fans I am in close contact with. Late fall and winter is also the hardest time at my job and hockey just makes me happy and keeps me running. So NO HOCKEY was terrible. I am glad that we now have quite some long running agreement and won't face this horror scenario so soon again.

Once the puck was dropped the Pens struggled for a while before they were in full swing and launched into a really enjoyable season that was topped with a brilliant winning streak that lasted all March. 

When the trade deadline came things got even more crazy. We got Brenden Morrow and I thought "Cool, that is not too bad!"
Then we signed Douglas Murray of the San Jose Sharks and since I am a HUGE fan of really gritty, physical defensive that was like Christmas for me and who knows me a little also knows that "Swedish dude with Scottisch roots" has my name written all over. I was (and still am) in immediate hockey love. 
And then came THAT night ... I remember my last tweet was something like "Yeah, I really stopped caring where Iggy goes. Let's move on."  Stupid me! In the early morning hours of the next day I woke up because my cellphone was buzzing on the ground near my bed in a crazy dance. I blinked and thought "What the hell?"  I  grabbed the phone and the first thing I saw was a message from my friend Eileen summing it all up. "You are not dreaming. It's real." For a split second I was "What???" Then my brain kicked in ..... and "OH EM GEEEEEE!" With trembling hands I opened my Twitter account and became witness of the most epic Yinzplosion I have ever seen:
Jarome Iginla was OURS! 

The following Saturday I think I will never forget because I never went faster from heaven to hell in all my sports fan life. When Iggy hit the ice for the first time in a Pens uniform it was just amazing, although we would see right away the problem that would not leave us alone again: Iggy is no left wing and will never be. But at that day it did not really matter. That was JAROME IGINLA IN A PENS UNIFORM *squeeeeeeee* until .... until .... karma showed us her bitchy ugly face.
Like in slow motion I saw how that puck took off and then - being slightly deflected - made a small turn and ... hit Sid straight in the mouth, knocked out a lot of teeth and broke his jaw. What did that poor guy do to deserve all this pain? I have really, really no idea. And what have we done that we never seem to be allowed to really enjoy these great moments of happiness like Iggy's arrival for longer than just a wink of an eye? 

But this team - now with new arrival, faceoff and shootout specialist Jussi Jokinen - knows oh too well how to survive without the Captain and just kept going like Champs when I arrived in Pittsburgh in late April.
I had the chance to watch  the last two regular season games from fantastic seats and I have to say that the amazing comeback of James Neal with his tinted visor was one of the most beautiful live hockey moments I could enjoy until now. 

In the 2nd week finally a huge dream of mine came true:
And good lord - that is a whole different world. Everybody seems to run around in Pens gear, people are in festive mood and the excitement inside the CEC is phenomenal. I could barely breath when I grabbed my ralley towel and I am not shy to admit that I cried like a baby when the jumbotron first displayed the "THEY CAN HEAR YOU" into the sound of the sirene and the arena practically exploded around me. To be honest ... I would give a lot to go back to this moment right now. The Pens won this game in epic fashion and Flower was fantastic one last time. 

The 2nd game although it was Sid's comback was then sadly a sneak peak of what we would face in the end. Suddenly the Pens turned into a badly organized, low energy, almost careless group of people screwing it up badly. That was not what I wanted to see at my last night in Pittsburgh, but knowing that my team sometimes just blacks out only to bounce back even stronger I was still optimistic. And I kept being optimistic - back in Germany adjusting to my 6 hrs time difference playoff schedule - all the way through the too difficult Islanders series and the much more entertaining Sens series that really felt like finally this team was up for something GREAT! 

But ... not so much. I still have trouble to wrap my brain around what happened in the series against the Boston Bruins. Game 2 was a nightmare - the worst I have seen the Pens full roster playing ever.
Game 1, 3 and 4?  HOW can you hit the goal post so often? HOW can you have a fantastic goalie (Thank you, Tomas!) but the other team has a goalie that plays at the border of humanily possible? HOW can people like Sid, Geno and Jimmy go for a whole series without scoring a single goal? HOW can this wonderful and extremely talented group of amazing men (yes - that's what they were and still are) fail so badly?
The answers are likely a big puzzle that includes irrational but still valid reasons like bad luck and karma as well as more rational ones like coaching issues or wrong on ice decisions of players. Fact is - it happened. We are out. It is over. 

Now we are facing one of the most difficult offseasons in a long time. A lot of players become free agents, restricted free agents or are due for contract extensions.  We also need to look at the coaching and goalie situation. The Pens management and owners have a lot of work to do and decisions to make and there is only one thing for sure:  The 2013/2014 Pittsburgh Penguins will be very different from the 2012/2013 Pittsburgh Penguins

I am glad that I do not have to make those decisions or go through these negotiations and in the end we can do nothing to influence the outcome, but of course everybody's mind is buzzing and it's hard to stop. Here is my take on things:

Players (not covering all in question) 

The "old" guys 

Evgeni Malkin: Resigning Geno has to be first priority. While I would really love to slap him sometimes when he causes one of those horrible turnovers or takes a stupid penalty, he is a mindblowingly talented hockey player. I am convinced that this season was one of his not so good ones that will be followed by many, many fantastic ones. The day will come "the double headed monster" will strike and raise the Cup. I know it!
Also the negotiations with Geno's people will already kick off next week and Geno said clearly that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh and is aware that the salary cap will have impact on the money negotiable. I am very positive that this will be all set and solved very soon with Geno staying with us.

Kris Letang: Tanger's jersey was my first Pens jersey ever and the beauty of his skating and play was a big part of me falling in love with the Pens. BUT his performance lately was a crazy bounce between horrible and genius lacking consistency. I would STILL love to have him with the Pens, but .... not for 8 Mio or more. That's a clear no for me, but I am sure that there will be other clubs who will offer him that amount of money and I do not see Tanger giving a several Mio home discount. I might be wrong, but I think we'll soon say good bye to Kris Letang and allow the group of young offensive defenseman around rookie of the year Simon Despres to fill in. Also for the cap space gained in a Letang trade we could likely get a good forward and an additional defenseman. Emotionally that is a tough outlook but it makes sense. 

Pascal Dupuis: I hope and believe the Penguins will manage to keep Duper. He is not only a really good hockey player, he is also a great personality in this locker room and he is Sid's winger. Yes, everybody is replacable but to replace Duper it would need so much more than just finding a new decent winger. Give the man the money he derseves (his salary is silly low at the moment) or at least close to it (I hope they can agree somewhere around 3 Mio) and let him retire as a Penguin. This is how it really should be. 

Matt Cooke: Not so long ago I said with fully meaning it that Matt Cooke does not deserve to be a Penguin and should leave asap. That changed. The blame and hate he takes from all around the league is silly now since he really turned around his game and on ice behavior like I have barely seen any other player doing it before. He was one of our very few constantly well performing players in these playoffs and he is a rock in the PK - PK that was fantastic  - even in the lost series - and will be broken up badly with lots of players (Adams, Letang, etc.) questionable to return to Pittsburgh. Extending Cooke's contract is clearly lower in priority than Geno's or Duper's but I want him back. Yes, there I said it. I want Matt Cooke staying with the Penguins.

The "new" guys 

Brenden Morrow: I personally like Brenden Morrow. He played a very physical game and he was working his ass off for this team. If you watched him playing you would have never guessed that he is one of the new guys who just left his family, his team and his captaincy behind to do gritty, basic work in Pittsburgh. He has all my sympathy and in a perfect world I would love to have him around - bringing his family with him. It is just ... I do not see him coming back and fitting into the system adding the value he potentially still could. 

Jarome Inginla: Seriously ... once you have Jarome Inginla you never ever want him to leave this locker room again. You just want him around all the time smiling and representing the team with all that passion and heart. Iggy is awesome and I want Iggy to be a Penguin until the end of his carreer living with his precious family in Pittsburgh. And we are lucky - that is what Iggy also seems to want.
BUT what do we truely have to offer a Jarome Iginla? He is maybe not looking so much after money although that will be of course an important part of the negotiations. Much more important than that will be to find Iggy a role he fits in (no left wing) and that allows him to contribute. I personally think he could built a new line with Beau Bennett. Beau is an amazing talent, an instinct player with a bright, bright future who could benefit a lot from having a mentor like Iggy playing with him. It is just the question if Iggy really sees himself on a 3rd line - that is probably not what he came to Pittsburgh for.
I am also not exactly sure what is Sid's problem with Iggy on his wing (some talk about space blablabla was not a sastifying answer), but I think if Iggy stays we should at least work on a PP set up that puts Iggy with the top guys. This will be a full regular season that allows us to work stuff like this out and I can't see why we should not be able to make this all star line working.

Douglas Murray:  I am biased. Very biased. I want him to stay so badly. I want to watch people bounce of his wide back and shoulders, I want people getting smashed into the boards like my niece's Playmobil figures (no injuries of course - I wish nobody injuries except maybe Chris Neil for that hit into the Swedish crown jewels). I want that little heart stopper when my big guy is crossing the red line and putting that everybody surprising sniper shot into the opposing goal every couple of weeks. I want to buy my Murray jersey (I am just owning a shirt - jerseys are too expensive to invest into a free agent, sadly).

And now to the more rational reasons: Yes, Douglas is no skater, but that does not need to be a big issue nor does it need to slow the Pens down significantly when you just let him stay in position and pair him with a responsible playing offensive defenseman that can carry the puck out of the danger zone after being recovered by Murray (watch him battling at the boards and you know what I mean).
We had plenty of situations where it worked perfectly, but then he got paired with Engo (too static) or Niksanen (lost his grip) or Letang (totally forgot that he is a defenseman) and he had to move out of position too often for still looking as good as he potentially could. So use him smartly and everybody will be happy.
Especially when Letang leaves the young guys coming in would benefit a lot from Douglas Murray's veteran, physical presence in front of the net (a spot that was way too often very empty the last couple of seasons) backing them. He also often was fantastic at the PK blocking a LOT of shots with his body. Looking at the fact that our PK will suffer likely from the roster changes (see above) we could make a good use of him here, too. So for the love of all hockey gods (and ahem ... ME) - KEEP HIM! 

Jussi Jokinen:  Just for clarification  - Jussi Jokinen is no FA. His contract goes for another year. He might be traded though. I like him and I think his faceoff and shooting skills could be really good for us in the next season but he is not much of a priority for me. Sorry, Jussi! 

The goalie situation

I love Flower. There is nothing not to love about Flower .... except the weird thing that seems to happen in his head once the regular season ends. It is purely a mental issue. Just bad that mental strength is probably the most important asset for a goalie

BUT still - he is a top goalie and there are not many out there who are better than him and there is nobody who is really better and available. Not for nothing other teams hire people to scout goalies in Europe. A really good and reliable goalkeeper is rare as gold. The availability of options might change closer to draft day and the Pens might end up trading Flower making his worst nightmare come true (he wants to stay so badly), but there is also a significant chance that this is not happening.
My take is that we'll go with Vokoun, who played BRILLIANT playoffs but won't be able to play a full season in the No 1 spot, and Flower into the new season and I can live very well with it. 

The word is that longterm goalie coach Gilles Meloche will resign to make room for somebody new and I think that is the right move. It obviously needs a new approach to built up Fleury's confidence also in post season. If I would have a goalie wish open with the hockey fairy I would wish that Flower stays and plays the playoffs of his life next season to get his hands on the Cup again. 

The coaching situation

We started already with Meloche and probably that is the way go to - keeping Bylsma but making sure that there is a significant shake up in his team of assitant coaches, but I am really not sure. 

The players obviously adore Bylsma and stand strong behind their coach even now, but SOMETHING needs to happen. There were too many things on so many levels that were so obviously wrong like the Iggy issue, weird combinations of defensemen, sitting Beau too long and Despres all the time and so on and on. On top of all this Bylsma's end of season press conference was really, really weird and not exactly encouraging. 

I have trouble to get to a final opinion on this issue. Something needs to change but what exactly? I do not know. I am neither in the "Fire Bylsma" nor in the "Keep the coaches" team. Thank god - and here the loop is closing - I do not have to make this decision. It will be on Lemieux and Shero. There are rumors that Mario wants Bylsma gone, but those are just rumors. Maybe we'll know more once Shero had his press conference later this week. 

What ever happens with this team, one thing is for sure:  I'll be back. I'll be back watching games late at night. I'll be back sporting my Pens gearI'll be back to Pittsburgh and back to CEC at my seat (hopefully) behind the glass in two times defense

And then ... then we'll take the pieces and build them skywards*  -  LET'S GO PENS!!!!!

PS: The quote is taken from the song "Machines" by Biffy Clyro.