Deadline day pressure cooker for Shero?
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Q: Has Ray Shero put himself in a pressurized situation with his three consecutive, positive-impact deadline-day transactions? It is now almost as if it's expected. And with Shero still kind of new at his position, will he feel an added strain to get something done even if what he wants is no longer available?
Nick, Long Island, N.Y.
MOLINARI: Shero definitely has made some shrewd deadline moves during his first three seasons as general manager, plugging holes in his lineup by trading for the likes of Georges Laraque, Gary Roberts, Marian Hossa, Hal Gill, Pascal Dupuis and Bill Guerin. (Chris Kunitz was acquired about a week before the deadline in 2009 and Craig Adams was claimed off waivers).
While he's noncommittal about whether he'll make moves by the March 3 deadline, saying that it's too early to know what (if anything) might be necessary, precedent suggests that Shero probably will at least tweak his roster a bit, and that he'll do it effectively.
Shero definitely has pressure to try to improve his team, but only because it's incumbent on every GM of a playoff team to enter the postseason with the strongest possible lineup. What Shero's success in previous years has done is to prove that he can do that, but doesn't establish any sort of precedent that he must feel compelled to match.
Shero has proven to be extremely thoughtful and patient when it comes to team-building -- routinely resisting the temptation to make moves when many outside the organization were screaming for change, acting only when he deemed the situation right -- and his even-keel approach figures to hold if an attractive proposal doesn't come along during the next month or so.
There is absolutely nothing in Shero's history to suggest that he's the kind of guy who will make a trade simply for the sake of making a trade, or that he'd agree to any deal where the possible risk clearly outweighs the potential reward.
Q: It certainly didn't look good as Eric Godard hobbled off the ice (at Madison Square Garden Monday) If this injury is expected to linger, is there any chance the Pens take a second look at the recently released Mr. Laraque? I wasn't following his situation closely in Montreal, but he was characterized as a "distraction" and Montreal bought out the remaining year and a half of his contract. Was he really performing that badly?
Matt Mitcheltree, Imperial
MOLINARI: That's been a popular question with Q&A denizens since the Canadiens severed their ties to Laraque, especially since Godard was hurt early in the game the other night.
Laraque won't be coming back to the Penguins, however. While he was extremely effective when he fought during his days here, Laraque was too selective for management's taste, taking on only opponents he regarded as a peer among the NHL's top heavyweights. That's an honorable approach, certainly, but not a very practical one. There are times when an enforcer must go after someone who is outside his weight class, simply to protect a teammate, and Laraque showed little interest in doing that.
While Laraque was a more accomplished player than Godard -- not that he should be fine-tuning his Hall of Fame acceptance speech anytime soon -- Godard has proven to be far more willing to handle that role the way the front office wants, which is why there has been zero second-guessing the decision to let Laraque walk when his contract expired in 2008.
First Published January 28, 2010 12:00 am