Highlights from Ray Shero’s meeting with the press on Friday afternoon.
After an eventful day in Pittsburgh that saw one Stanley Cup winner re-sign with the Penguins for two years, two others head across the state to Philadelphia, and yet one more head to the Big Apple, Pens general manager Ray Shero met the press.
It is fairly typical for general managers around the league to hold press conferences in the afternoon of the first day of the NHL’s free agency period whether they have something to report or not. It’s an opportunity to give updates on all of the team’s own free agents, guys they might have brought in and to give a general state of the union on the team.
Luckily for Shero he had no shortage of topics to cover in his media gathering this afternoon and they ranged from losing out on #jagrwatch to additional moved that he might make.
Though many of you might have already listened to the presser or heard excerpts on the news etc, here are some of the key points from the conference.
On withdrawing the contract offer to Jaromir Jagr:
“…at the end as of last night for me it just didn’t feel right, to come back to the Penguins seemed like a tap in for me, but I respect his decision. This morning when I talked to the agent I said…what I always said; at the start of free agency I needed an answer, I gave him a deadline of 11:00 and that deadline basically came and went and we withdrew our offer and were on to other things.”
On the negotiation with Jagr:
“…the moving parts here were Kennedy and Jagr, as I said all along they were independent of each other, we could have done both. It never came down to a money issue with Jagr, honestly. They never came back… There were some reports that he came back and asked for money. He never did. He might have something in mind of what he wanted or where he wanted to go. He never asked for more money and it never got to a negotiation.”
On if he is bitter about the way the Jagr situation player out… has he talked to Mario about it:
“For me, I don’t know Jaromir Jagr, so I’m not bitter at all. I mean this is business to me. I have not talked to Mario in terms of his feelings. It was last night I exchanged some emails with Ron and Mario as to how I felt about the situation, what I wanted to do and they were supportive of that. If Jagr had said yes to us by 11:00 he would be a Penguin…he didn’t and it was time to move on.”
If he had heard that the Flyers were in the running:
“I think his agent had mentioned them.”
Ray praised Jagr a bit for his place in Penguins history:
“This doesn’t change his place in our history here I mean he has won two Stanley Cups with us and obviously he is a great player. I don’t have any feelings…I don’t know him. But I have seen him and he should be a good player and he will be a good player in Philadelphia and we wish him the best.”
“To me Steven Sullivan is a good fit for us. Obviously I know Steve well from having him in Nashville. He’s a pretty dynamic player still. Looking at what we’re trying to do is improve our power play and he can help us there. Right hand shot that can play the off-side… can play up high as well. Really good speed, very smart player…he can play with good players as well.”
On Sullivan’s injuries… he mentioned specifics such as his back, his sports hernia and his strained MCL:
“Right now he’s healthy and ready to go and could play tomorrow if he had too.”
On how the offer he made Max Talbot compared to the one he got in Philadelphia:
“He got a lot more…(laughing)… I just talked to Max and had a really nice conversation with him. This is a totally different situation because I have a relationship with Max Talbot.
On Max Leaving:
“I had offered Max a contract to come back of three years. I kind of saw how this was going to go and this is kind of a Rob Scuderi situation, when Rob left and went to LA he couldn’t turn down that deal or that money and he is a guy that won a cup with us, same thing with max. As I said to someone yesterday the guys that have won a cup here with us and they move on for bigger paydays, honestly, I’m very happy for them. Him going to Philadelphia, I congratulated him for signing. It’s good for him, he should be a good fit there. That wasn’t a term or a contract we were going to get involved with. It’s a benefit of winning the Stanley Cup, Max Talbot will always be part of the history here and I’m really happy for him.”
On if the team needs more grit:
“I think we are a team that has a lot of grit… We’ll continue to look around at some players.”
On the state of the team:
“I am really pleased that we have our defense signed, our goalies signed, realistically we have most of our forwards signed, if not all. This is not the market to be out there looking for player s and signing guys. I am really happy we signed these two defensemen last year that we did. The market as we see it now is not one you want to be in looking for players.”
On if he is concerned with “keeping up with the Joneses” in the division or conference:
“The only team I am concerned with is ours and it doesn’t concern me what teams across the state do or in our division or around the league. I’ve gotta be concerned about our team, not only today, but tomorrow moving forward. I’m keeping in mind that I’ve got Crosby and Staal up in two years and I don’t want to do something today that is going to jeopardize re-signing Sidney Crosby in a couple of years or a year whenever that might be. We are set up pretty well and I like our team I think we all know that the key to our team this year is getting Crosby and Malkin back and having those guys play with Staal a full year that would be one of the best things we can have.”
“Yeah, we’ve said this in the past. I said this to Jagr and his camp; guys have to take less to stay here. Whether that is less years or less money — number 1, I give Pascal a lot of credit, this is a guy who sees all the term out there right now, but Pittsburgh is the place he wanted to be. The same thing with Tyler Kennedy he could have really pushed the envelope. Going through the negotiation process with Tyler, he could have really pushed the envelope, but he liked it here and he liked the situation. He’s a young improving player…he saw the benefit of staying. So the two years bridges a gap for us and also gives him a chance to continue what he is doing and hopefully a bigger payday is down the road for him. But it helps us continue what we are doing here.”
On this year’s free agency crop being very lean:
“This was the perfect storm for the players… this was probably the leanest (in years). We are six years into the cycle of the CBA and so many teams have resigned their own players and less and less unrestricted players are available. The perfect storm is that the cap went up $5 million… you see the term, you see the money that’s out there right now and it’s good to be a free player or an agent. A lot of money is being thrown around.”
Shero mentioned that Mike Rupp called back after receiving his Rangers’ offer and said that he would stay for a bit less than the deal, but Shero didn’t feel it would work.
The Penguins also signed forward Colin McDonald who led the American Hockey League in goal scoring last season with 42 goals and added 16 assists for 58 points in 80 games. McDonald’s goal, assist and point totals were all career highs.