PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Penguins general manager Ray Shero, whose deft handling of the salary cap and mid-season hiring of coach Dan Bylsma in 2009 helped Pittsburgh win its first Stanley Cup in 17 years, has agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2015-16 season.
Shero’s current five-year contract, signed at the start of the 2006-07 season, would have expired at the end of this season.
“It worked out great,” Shero said Monday of the negotiations. “It was relatively painless on my part.”
The Penguins have twice played for the Stanley Cup and won it once under Shero, an assistant general manager in the NHL for 14 seasons before being hired by the Penguins. They’ve made the playoffs in all four seasons since Shero took over after missing them the previous four under Hall of Famer Craig Patrick.
“This was an easy decision,” co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a statement issued by the team. “Ray has done a tremendous job with our hockey operation—not only leading us to the Stanley Cup in 2009 but also building a team that can continue to compete for the Cup year after year.”
Shero’s most successful move might have been replacing successful coach Michel Therrien with the less-experienced Bylsma midway through the 2008-09 season, although the Penguins had made one of the best one-season turnarounds in NHL history by going from 22 victories in 2005-06 to 47 the following season. Bylsma had less than a year of head coaching experience, yet the Penguins immediately turned their season around after he was hired and won the Stanley Cup four months later.
Under Shero, the Penguins signed cornerstone players such as forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenceman Brooks Orpik to multi-year contracts. Crosby, a former NHL MVP and scoring champion, and Malkin, a former playoffs MVP and scoring champion, both agreed to accept significantly less money than they could have made on the open market.
Shero did the same with forward Matt Cooke during the most recent off-season, re-signing a valuable role player before he tested free agency. Shero also signed defencemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek to contracts worth US$45 million on the first day of free agency in July to strengthen what had become a weakness.
In other key moves, Shero turned down numerous offers to trade and chose Staal with the No. 2 pick in the 2006 draft—the first he made as GM—and traded for forwards Gary Roberts in 2007 and Marian Hossa in 2008.
Staal went on to score 29 goals as an 18-year-old rookie, and his two-way play was pivotal in the Penguins rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to win the 2009 Stanley Cup finals in Detroit. Staal was a Selke Trophy finalist last season as one of the NHL’s best defence-minded forwards.
Hossa chose not to re-sign with Pittsburgh, but his consistent scoring and ability to mesh immediately with Crosby helped carry the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1992.
A season later, Shero traded for left wing Chris Kunitz, prospect Eric Tangradi and forward Bill Guerin, who went on to play on Crosby’s line for more than a season.
“In this job, this business, you have to take chances, take risks,” he said. “Some (trades and signings) haven’t worked out as well as others, but you have to take that chance sometimes. Hopefully, you have more good ones than bad ones.”
Shero was the assistant GM with Nashville for eight seasons and the Senators for six before replacing Patrick, who assembled not only the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup winners but also several major components of the Penguins’ last Stanley Cup champion. Shero, a former player at St. Lawrence University, was an agent for seven years before moving into management.
Shero is the son of the late Fred Shero, who coached the Flyers to two Stanley Cup championships and was the general manager and coach of the Rangers. The Sheros are among four father-son duos who have their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup.
“I was just happy to have the job,” said Shero, who took over a team that hadn’t won more than 28 games the previous four seasons. “To see how it’s worked out, it was a great decision to come here.”