The Pittsburgh Penguins looked to be a promising franchise under the young general manager Ray Shero. Their core was young and hungry, and they were fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory.
However, last offseason Shero was relieved of his duties and the Penguins brought Jim Rutherford in to replace him. Shortly afterwards, head coach Dan Bylsma was fired and rookie Mike Johnston came aboard.
It was clear, Mario Lemieux’s commitment to his hockey operations staff had run out. Lemiuex, like Shero, is a man of principles and loyalty has always been important to him.
But the most ironic thing is that it was the loyalty that doomed the Penguins from the start.
Take a look at this brief excerpt from Mike Colligan’s article The Cost of Loyalty:
Ray Shero shared many of Lemieux’s core principles. Shero believed that the strength of the Penguins front office came from a small, but incredibly loyal group of talented associates.
Shero showed loyalty to his own players as well. He never bought out a single contract during his tenure, despite a handful of deals he probably wishes he could’ve had back.
While Shero did a lot of good in Pittsburgh, his actions were not good enough to return a Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.
Shero’s Brief Tenure With The Devils
Shero might have been fired in Pittsburgh, but it seems he is not going to change how he does business.
His first significant action as the GM of the Devils was hiring the Penguins minor league coach John Hynes to act as his head coach.
This is just another example of Shero letting his excessive loyalty to friends cloud his judgement. This is not to say that Hynes was not the best candidate, but the truth is no other suitors had a legitimate chance at the job.
Hynes was hired about a week ago and within that time, Shero has continued to reward his friends. Just four days after Hynes was introduced, the Devils asked for permission to interview Alain Nasreddine.
Guess where Nasreddine coached last season? He was an assistant coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton under Hynes.
Lou Lamoriello’s Devils
Other than the Penguins, there might not be another franchise that has displayed a similar amount of loyalty than the Devils.
This means that the hiring of Shero was simultaneously a perfect fit and a potential detriment to the franchise.
Lamoriello’s track record with the Devils was impressive, but just like Shero, at the end of his tenure loyalty was clearly clouding his judgement.
I believe that Shero will do a good job for the Devils because he will not have the pressure to win the Stanley Cup hanging over his head, but how long will it last?
Even despite the pressure Shero felt from Penguins ownership, he clearly was a short-term benefit but a long-term detriment to the franchise.
What Does the Future of the Devils hold?
One thing is for certain, the Devils will not be competing for the Stanley Cup within the next few years.
Even if ownership and new management does not acknowledge this, they are a rebuilding franchise (or at least should be).
Which begs the question, is Shero fit to rebuild a franchise?
He took over the Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang already drafted. Shero did not build the current Penguins and his draft record as a GM was less than impressive.
The most confusing part about this summer is that Shero does not seem to think the Devils need to rebuild. He’s hired his former WBS Penguins coach, and he’s in the process of hiring another. But that’s not even the strangest part.
The New Jersey Devils will reportedly go after Paul Martin in free agency.
— JB (@JBSportsTalk9) June 8, 2015
That’s right, Ray Shero is letting loyalty cloud his judgement once again. If he does sign former Devil and Penguin, Paul Martin, to a contract it will be a long-term deal, and that’s not what a rebuilding franchise needs.
Martin has been an undervalued defender the past few seasons, but the Devils don’t need him and the Penguins do.
Will Shero go through with signing a 34-year old defender as the first step of his rebuild?
Only time will tell, but it seems the problems that surfaced in Pittsburgh have followed him to New Jersey.
Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers