By Amber Alexander
The Pittsburgh Penguins acquisitions this summer have shown how much players want to play in the Steel Town. The latest example is Mike Comrie.
Comrie is known for his marriage to Hilary Duff but he made $1.25 million last season and agreed to sign a one year deal with the Penguins worth just $500,000.
You don’t hear much in the media about players taking less but the Penguins are one team that have succeeded by signing players who want to play for them, even if it might mean taking a pay cut.
Before Comrie, there was Arron Asham. The ex-Flyer was offered more money by other teams but, like other new signings, believed Pittsburgh gave him the best opportunity to win.
Before Asham, the signing of Matt Cooke in the early summer was another example of a player taking less than he could have gotten on the open market.
Cooke was coming off of one of his best seasons and plenty of teams wanted him and were willing to offer far more than the $1.8 million he is to make over each of the next 3 seasons.
Paul Martin, one of Ray Shero’s free agent frenzy day signings, admittedly was offered more from other teams, including his own, before deciding that Pittsburgh fit his style and gave him the greatest chance of winning a cup.
Players notice that with the development of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, all under the age of 25, their chance at winning a cup is greatly enhanced.
This summer isn’t the only time that players have taken less to join or stay with the Penguins.
Others who have taken less in the past include Ruslan Fedotenko, who took less last summer to re-sign after winning a Stanley Cup with the team. Petr Sykora’s agent was instructed to phone Ray Shero when he hit the market several summers back and Brooks Orpik, who was a highly pursued in unrestricted free agency by several teams, but chose to remain with the Penguins.
Another attractive aspect of the Penguins organization is its coaching and management.
Dan Bylsma is a coach that isn’t seen berating his players and he has done a good job of earning their respect. Players don’t want to play for a coach who doesn’t respect them as people and with Bylsma; he makes sure make them all feel respected and a part of the team.
Ray Shero is a personable and knowledgeable general manager who has built a close knit group of young players, players who defend each other in the media as well as on the ice.
Mario Lemieux is the owner, enough said. Who wouldn’t want to have one of the best players of all time watching their games on a nightly basis?
Though the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone through rough patches over the years, for example the ups and downs of last season, they never fall into the trap of finger-pointing. If there is a problem, it is fixed in the locker room.
The youth of this team is probably the final piece of a puzzle that has lured all of the aforementioned players, young and old and this group is just getting started.
***Amber is a hockey fan from the deep south. She prefers a Penguins match-up over any College Football game and enjoys writing about hockey in general. A Journalism major, Amber is a news reporter for her local newspaper. You can follow her on twitter here.