(PRESS RELEASE: Penguins hire Ray Shero as General Manager)
Ray Shero has helped build winners in Ottawa and Nashville.
Now, he wants to construct another Stanley Cup contender in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins hired Shero as their new general manager on Thursday. Shero spent the last eight seasons as the assistant general manager in Nashville. Before that, he served the same role with the Ottawa Senators for six seasons.
“I have been part of a building process with Nashville and Ottawa. Knowing what it takes, going through the process, the vision and the plan that has to be in place and also the patience that needs to be in place in order for this to succeed,” he said. “I think I have that. I have developed that over 14 years as an assistant general manager in this league. I am really looking forward to putting that in place here in Pittsburgh and making Pittsburgh a long-term winner again.
“I chose Pittsburgh for a number of reasons. First, the feel of the organization and the atmosphere. It just felt right to me and [my wife] Karen. The passion and excitement Mario [Lemieux] and [Penguins President and CEO] Ken [Sawyer] have for the city of Pittsburgh and making it work here, at the end of the day it really made me feel good. When I made the decision, there was a lot of joy. We are thrilled to be here.”
Shero will start off with a lot of good building blocks. The Penguins return some of the best young talent in the hockey world with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Ryan Whitney, Colby Armstrong, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Malone and Andy Hilbert and prospects Noah Welch and Evgeni Malkin, among others.
“Another huge reason I came here, we have an outstanding talent base of young players. It’s an exciting, exciting time here in Pittsburgh,” Shero said. “Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin – we have some wonderful assets to build around here that other teams don’t have. I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to work with these young players and give them the support and patience they are going to need in order to get winning hockey back in Pittsburgh again.”
While Shero hopes to make an immediate impact, his goals are geared toward the long term. He wants to return the Penguins into a yearly force in the NHL.
“One of the mandates for myself and the vision I have is to not be about just the winning season. I think you can shoot for that winning season and have it, but unfortunately that doesn’t sustain itself,” he said. “I am more interested in re-establishing a winning tradition in Pittsburgh and that means doing things right; having a vision, a plan and patience. My goal here is to re-establish that tradition and that’s not just one year of winning hockey. That’s building it up to where we’re winning consistently. When we do make the playoffs, it’s going to be making the playoffs for a long period of time.”
His work in Ottawa and Nashville helped turn the Senators and Predators into two of the NHL’s most-exciting teams. The Senators have established themselves as a league power, while the Predators continue their ascent up the NHL ranks.
“When I look back at what happened in Ottawa when we made the playoffs for the first time in 1997, I thought the team was built correctly,” he said. “I thought the team was built with patience, a lot of losses along the way, but it was built the right way and they’ve made the playoffs every year since and have been a force in the league.
“In Nashville, the same situation happened where we went through a period of five years without making the playoffs. I think we did a great job of building. We’ve made it [to the playoffs] two years in a row now and I think Nashville is poised to be a long-term playoff contender and a team that’s going to be reckoned for many years down the line.
“That’s what I’d like to have happen in Pittsburgh.”
Shero pinpointed several ingredients he wants in the Penguins.
“The team we want on the ice is going to be a team that’s hard-working, that has speed, chemistry and character and is a team that’s about more than just one player or two players,” he said. “It’s a team sport. I recognize the fact that we have Sidney Crosby and he’s an unbelievable talent and superstar. He is going to need help. We’re going to need to build a good team around him to support him, both on and off the ice.
I believe that the best way to build this team is through every available measure and that’s not just free agency.”
However, it’s not all about winning on the ice for Shero. He wants the Penguins to represent Pittsburgh and give back to the community.
“I really want a team that’s going to be active in the community. I want a team that’s going to be accessible to the media. I want a team that’s going to have passion for the city of Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s not asking too much. This is a wonderful sport to play. The fans are important to us. We want them to come see the Pittsburgh Penguins. We’re going to have an exciting team on the ice. This is going to be the place to be.”
Also, Shero wants the Penguins to earn respect through hard work and discipline.
“My No. 1 goal is getting us to be a playoff team. I think we have to build around this nucleus we have here of young players,” he said. “We have to support them and make it a place to play for other players. We need the good coaching. We need the good teaching, discipline and respect around the league. You earn respect and credibility around the league by playing hard.”
Shero looks forward to working with Penguins head coach Michel Therrien, who helped bring structure to the team at the end of last season.
“I am keen to Michel Therrien. I have seen him coach since Junior hockey. I have seen him win. I have seen him coach in the American Hockey League. I have seen him coach in Montreal and here,” Shero said. “One of the things last year with the Penguins, and this is the outside look from Nashville, was there was so much change with the players and management, coaches. I think there has been enough change for a while and we need some stability. I think he brought that. Especially in the last 20 games, there was some substance and discipline. That’s what I saw from the outside. I am an optimist and I think I can work well with people. My feeling is that I am going to work well with Michel Therrien and his staff and we’re going to win the Stanley Cup together, that’s my feeling today. I am looking forward to it.”