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Ray Shero Media Conference: July 1, 2011

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins general manager Ray Shero met with the media Friday afternoon to discuss the first day of free agency. Here's the transcript of what Shero had to say:

On what was behind the media release today announcing the Penguins had pulled their offer to Jaromir Jagr:

I think it’s pretty much documented that we made an offer to him on Tuesday within the parameters of our salary cap, always with the idea of bringing back Tyler Kennedy as well. If those two things would have happened, that would have been great. But over the last few days – as of last night, for me – it didn't really 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 I needed an answer at the beginning of free agency. So I gave him a deadline of 11 o’clock. That deadline came and went. We withdrew our offer and moved onto other things.

On how the Steve Sullivan deal came about with what was going on with Jagr and Tyler Kennedy:
The moving parts here were Kennedy and Jagr. And 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. It honestly never came back to that. There’s some reports that he came back and asked for more, but he never did. So he might have had something in his mind that he wanted or where he wanted to go. He never asked for more money. We never got into that negotiation. He went somewhere else and the Penguins and another team withdrew their offers of interest and he moved on. To me, Steve Sullivan is a good fit for us. I know Steve well from having him in Nashville. He’s still a pretty dynamic player. Looking at what we’re trying to do – which is improve our power play – he’s a guy that can potentially help us there. He’s a right-hand shot that plays the off side and can play up high as well. He’s got really good speed and is a very smart player. He can play with good players as well. So in terms of what’s available on the market this year, I’m happy with (signing Steve Sullivan).

On how concerned he is over injury issues with Sullivan, especially him missing the entire 2007-08 season with a back injury:
The back is fine. That’s never been an issue over the last few years. This year he had a sports hernia, which happens quite a bit to players. In the playoffs, he had an MCL strain, which knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs. But other than that he’s healthy. When you sign guys on July 1, there’s lots of risk. To me, what was out there this summer is not – the terms and the dollars that are out there right now – there’s risk in anything you do. The risk with Steve Sullivan is that he’s coming off a year where he played basically half a season (44 games). But he played at the end and in the playoffs, and he played well. We look at it as a fit for us. Right now he’s healthy and ready to go and could play tomorrow if he had to.

On if he has spoken with Mario Lemieux this afternoon about Jagr’s decision and what the reaction is within the organization:
For me, I don’t know Jaromir Jagr so I’m not bitter at all. This is business to me. I have not talked to Mario in terms of his feelings. It was last night when I exchanged some emails with (co-owners) Ron (Burkle) and Mario as to how I felt about the situation and what I wanted to do. They were supportive of that. If Jagr had said yes to us by 11 o’ clock, he would be a Penguin. He didn’t. It was time to move on. Other than that, I’ve only talked to Mario today just letting him know we signed Steve Sullivan and what we’re looking to do. So that’s really where we are.

On if he is surprised Jagr signed with Philadelphia:
I think his agent had mentioned them in the last day or so. He mentioned a number of teams that had called, and he told me it was Detroit or Philadelphia that was really where (Jagr) was looking at. So (us and Detroit) were the two teams that kind of backed out this morning. But hey, that’s good for Jaromir Jagr. It doesn't change his place in our history here. He’s won two Stanley Cups with us and is obviously a great player. I don’t have any feelings on it because I don’t know him. But I have seen him and he should be a good player in Philadelphia. We wish him the best.

On if he is surprised Max Talbot went to the Flyers and if he can compare his own offer with what Talbot landed with Philadelphia:
He did get a lot more (laughs). I just talked to Max and had a really good conversation with him. This is a totally different situation because I have a relationship with Max Talbot. I’d offered Max a three-year contract to come back, but I kind of saw how this was going to go. This is almost a Rob Scuderi situation, where when Rob left and went to LA – he couldn’t have turned down that deal or that money. He’s a guy that won a Cup with us, and same thing with Max. As I said to somebody yesterday, the guys that have won a Cup here with us – they move on for bigger paydays. Honestly, I’m very happy for them. And for him going to Philadelphia, I congratulate him on signing with the Flyers. It’s good for him. It should be a good fit there for him. That wasn't a term or a contract we were going to get involved with. But it’s a benefit of winning the Stanley Cup. Max Talbot is always going to be a part of the history here and I’m really happy for him.

On if he’ll be looking for grit on the free agent market with Talbot and Mike Rupp now gone:
I think we’re a team that has a lot of grit. With some of the guys we still have up front and bringing back Asham, I like our grit. We’ll continue to look around on some players, but I’m really pleased that we have our defense signed and our goalies signed. Realistically, we have most of our forwards signed – if not all – depending on what else we may do, because this is not the market to be out there looking for players and signing guys. I’m really happy we signed these two defensemen (Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek) last year when we did, because the market as we see it now is not one you really want to be in looking to sign players. But we’ll see. We’ll continue to talk to some guys and talk to our group. I’ll regroup with Dan Bylsma and the other coaches and see where we are.

On if he is surprised at the length of some of the contracts that have been signed recently, especially within the Atlantic Division and if that makes him re-think his philosophy:
The only team I’m concerned about is ours. It doesn't concern me what teams across the state do or in our division or around the league. I’ve got to be concerned about our team, not only today but tomorrow moving forward. I’m keeping in mind that I’ve got (Sidney) Crosby and (Jordan) Staal up in two years, and I don’t want to do something today that’s going to jeopardize re-signing Sidney Crosby whenever that might be. We’re set up pretty well. 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 the best news we could have.

On if it makes it easier for him when players like Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis say they want to stay and sign for a reasonable amount:
We’ve said this in the past and I said this to Jagr and his camp – that guys have to take less to stay here. Maybe it’s less years or less money. I give Pascal a lot of credit. This is a guy that (could cash in with) some of the terms out there right now, but Pittsburgh is the place he wanted to be. Same thing with Tyler Kennedy. Going through the whole negotiation process with Tyler – he could have really pushed the envelope, but he wasn’t. He liked it here, he liked the situation. He’s a young, improving player. He saw the benefit of staying. So the two years (we signed him to) I think bridges a gap for us, and also gives him a chance to continue doing what he’s doing. Hopefully it leads to bigger paydays down the road for him. But it helps us continue to do what we’re doing here. Same thing with Mike Rupp. Mike Rupp gave us a chance, called back and said he would stay for a little less. But at the end, it wasn't going to work out for us. But it’s good. You can only sign so many people, and Mike did a good job for us in the two years that he was here. When these guys move on, that’s the way the business is now.

On if this is one of the leanest free agent markets he’s ever seen in an offseason:
Yeah, this was the perfect storm for the players. This was probably the leanest. We’re six years into the cycle with the CBA, and so many teams have re-signed their own players. Less and less unrestricted players are available. The perfect storm is that the cap went up five million dollars. You see the terms and you see the money that is out there right now, and it’s good to be a free agent player or an agent today. A lot of money is being thrown around. It’s a lot of front-end loading of the contracts and a lot of cash the first year or two of the deal. As I said, I’m glad we signed the defensemen we signed last year. We’re set on defense. We’re set in goal. Our forward group, getting these guys healthy is the main thing for me right now.
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