Congratulations, Ray Shero.
With the acquisition of Marian Hossa at the trade deadline, the transition of the Pittsburgh Penguins from a team with draft lottery balls to ones made of steel is complete.
After the Pens picked up the dynamic scorer – along with Pascal Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first round pick in 2008 – the initial reaction around the office on a hectic trade deadline day was one of shock and awe.
Did the Penguins not learn anything from last year’s Atlanta Thrashers who, after mortgaging their future for rent-a-player Keith Tkachuk and a declining Alexei Zhitnik, were bounced in the first round of the playoffs?
I couldn’t help but tip my hat to Mr. Shero, however. Hossa is an impact player who will add yet another dimension to an already scary Pittsburgh offense. He may be a rental, but he is a far superior player to Keith Tkachuk.
And what did they give up? Two third-line players, a prospect who dropped from an undeniable No. 1 pick to a risky No. 20 selection in about a year, and a very expendable first round selection for a team already full of youth. The risk is there, as Hossa may only be a rental player, but it was calculated. And at some point you have to go for it.
And don’t give me this business about the Pens losing the deal because Colby Armstrong was Sidney Crosby’s – and everyone else’s for that matter – best friend and the dressing room environment will take a turn for the worse. With or without Armstrong, I think Crosby will be able to continue to put up points…and even more so with Hossa on his wing. And if the Pens win, the dressing room environment will be just dandy.
Considering the star movement from East to West on deadline day – Brian Campbell to the Sharks, Brad Richards to the Stars – not to mention the Eastern rival Canadiens giving away their co-starting goalie to a Capitals team clawing its way towards a playoff spot and the sudden decline of the Ottawa Senators, the time was right for the Pens to make a move to win the Eastern Conference.
Despite their recent troubles, the Sens are still the team to gun for and a line with Marian Hossa and Sidney Crosby on it, backed up by Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora, trumps Ottawa’s big three, any day of the week.
With John Paddock on his way out of Ottawa, who will be the next coach to get the boot?
If I had to put money down, I would bet on someone from the Southeast.
My top two candidates? John Tortorella’s act seems to be wearing thin in Tampa Bay and if the Lightning finish at the bottom of the Eastern standings it would make sense that this one-time Stanley Cup champion would want to change gears.
After him would be Jacques Martin. The original idea was that Martin, once successful in rearing a youthful Senators franchise into a near superpower, would be able to do the same with an ever-rebuilding Panthers team.
But it’s not working. The Panthers have been idly sitting just outside the playoff picture for too long, and even in a season where their division is unquestionably the weakest, Florida still can’t seem to inch their way into the post-season.
Rory Boylen is THN.com's web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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