#1 - Ditto. You'll get no argument here. And the closer we get, the more confident I am that this will happen. The groundswell of public support for the IoC plan will mean quite a bit in the end. And even if IoC doesn't get the license, I think the Plan B provides at the very least a framework for an alternative plan to fund an arena.
I'm going to lump #2-4 in together. I think it's time for changes across the board. Let's start at the top.
Patrick needs to go and I believe he will. I think within that week after the season ends, there will be an announcement that Patrick and the Pens have mutually agreed to part ways. As soon as the vacancy opens up, I'd be on the phone talking to people like Steve Tambellini, Neil Smith, Rick Dudley, Jim Nill (assistant GM in Detroit), Ray Shero (assistant GM in Nashville). This job would have to be incredibly attractive because the collection of young core talent in this organization thanks to the last few years is unparalleled around the league.
A new GM would almost certainly bring his own scouts, so I think it's safe to say Malone would be seeking employment elsewhere. This organization's inability to draft and develop prospects during the mid 1990s is beyond laughable. When you can look at the players this club drafted from 1993 to 1998 and realize the only player that this franchise developed that ever came remotely close to star status was Aleksey Morozov, then there are problems (and by most accounts, Morozov was an underachiever).
And I agree on the developmental end as well. Back when Olczyk and Therrien were hired, there was tons of lip service paid to the idea that there was going to be implemented this organization-wide system. It would be taught extensively at the AHL and NHL levels - much like the structure employed by the New Jersey Devils. This way, players who came up to the big club would essentially be playing the system they were in the AHL, helping to ease their transition to the NHL.
Apparently, this last one season. The greatest (and albeit unintentional) indictment of the lack of a system was Erik Christensen's interview with Mark Madden not long after EC came up. Christensen described with a great deal of accuracy and enthusiasm the system that Therrien employed at WB/S, his communication methods, and how both combined to create this incredibly efficient machine.
Pens fans who had been subjected to the first 10-15 games of the season had to have the same reaction I did when I was listening to Christensen. There was no way in hell that Olczyk was coaching the same system that Christensen was describing. Christensen was describing a well-oiled machine. We were watching Grabass on Ice.
So this is where I agree...the development needs to be more on the same page and, more importantly, these positions within the organization need to stop being given to the same people over and over again. There's something to be said for wanting to work with people you trust. But it seems that over the last ten years or so, the faces in the hockey operations of this organization haven't changed much. There's a revolving door of titles attached to each face, but the faces remain the same.