Asst. GM Guerin admits Penguins need to lay off the refs

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Sportsnet host Doug MacLean didn’t tip-toe around the issue when Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin appeared on Hockey Central today.

“Your team whines quite a bit,” MacLean said. “It’s hurt you at times in key situations, and I think it’s hurt you at playoff time.”

Care to respond?

To his credit, Guerin didn’t fight the notion, conceding it’s “definitely an area that we’ve identified as being an issue at times. …  The referees are out there, they do a fantastic job, the game’s faster than ever, and it’s really hard to pick things up sometimes with just the naked eye. … We just have to flat-out be better.”

Guerin isn’t the first member of the organization to admit the Penguins have a PR problem when it comes to the officials.

“I think [compared] to a few years ago I think we’ve been better, but it’s the way that people see us,” d-man Kris Letang said earlier this week, per the Post-Gazette. “They think we’re always all over the referees. We need to get better at that. Even better than what we did this year. We have to control what we can control and not worry about those things.”

Letang, of course, was ejected Sunday in Detroit for unsportsmanlike conduct towards the referees. Teammates Steve Downie and Chris Kunitz also received 10-minute misconducts in that contest. In fact, Downie took two.

“That can’t happen this time of year. We have to correct that,” captain Sidney Crosby said afterward.

“It’s an emotional game. As individuals, we’ve all been there at certain points and done certain things. But when it does happen, it’s usually one guy who gets a little too intense or that kind of thing. But today, it was too many. We can’t let that happen.”

Of course, the Penguins already had a well-earned reputation for losing their composure, making what happened during Sunday’s nationally televised game even more of a hot topic.

We’ll see if they can keep it together in the playoffs.