Penguins general manager Ray Shero (right) made an appearance on Mark Madden's show this afternoon on WXDX. He fielded questions on an number of subjects. The podcast can be heard here. The following is a partial transcript of the highlights:
On the coaching staff:
"I believe I the coaching staff. Number one, I’ve worked with these guys for a couple of years here, two and a half years, whatever it is. And I know what they do. I know how they prepare. I’m confident in our coaching staff. A couple of day is not going to change my opinion of the coaching staff. Having said that, this is part of my meeting for three hours on Monday."
On the power play:
"I don’t think we need a power-play coach. Our power play was among the top five in the league this year. Our power play scored nine goals in a six-game series. The power play was very good this year. Our problem in the playoffs was that, we gave up three shorthanded goals on the power play. And I’m not sure if any coach is going to fix that. It’s unacceptable. Philadelphia scored six shorthanded goals all year in 82 games. They scored three in a six games series. That’s unacceptable and you’re not going to win that way."
On the salary cap and the expiring collective bargaining agreement:
"We don’t know what the cap’s going to be or what the new CBA is going to be. Is there going to be a cap? I assume there will but there’s no CBA past Sept. 15. There will be an artificial cap this summer. It will probably be higher than the current cap now. The matter for any team is, you can do what you to do what you need to this summer and then you always have that cushion in the summertime to go over whatever that artificial cap is going to be. Certainly, whenever the new CBA is going to be negotiated, which this one expires Sept. 15, everybody is going to have to come into compliance with that. But we just don’t know what that is."
On the potential of keeping Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal (right) on long-term contracts:
"Common sense, I’d love to keep all three of them. They’re great players. They’re not even in their prime yet. But we’ll have to wait to see. We’ve had these players for a number of years now. We had success for a couple of years now. Went to the finals, won the (Stanley) Cup. But at the same time, there’s a salary cap in place now. And when these guys get into the second and third contracts, you might run into problems trying to keep all three. I’m certainly on record, I’d love to keep all three but in a practical world with a salary cap, that remains to be seen."
On the defense:
"Uh… man. I’d have to go back here a little bit here. I go back to after we lost to Montreal in the playoffs. That was the year we were 20th in goals against in the league. We made a concerted effort in the summertime. We said we need to get better defensively. And we went out and signed (Paul) Martin and (Zbynek) Michalek (right). They were a big part of us that year going from 20th in goals against to sixth in goals against in the league. We were under 200 goals (against) and that was the goal of the team. It was a very good defensive team. The penalty kill was first in the league. This year, we were a team defensively, up until probably mid-March, we were in the top ten in goals against again. … But maybe right around, I think it was the Ottawa game (March 24), we gave up eight goals there in March. We had an 11 or 12 game stretch at the end we were giving three and a half goals a game. And it started trending downward from there. … We have to figure out why. That’s going to be the challenge for myself and the coaches. And those are the things we have to look out here and decide why that happened. Is it the style of play, is it the players, is it the mindset? Do we have too many players trying to score 50 or 40 or 25 (goals)? What are we doing wrong?"
On Martin and Michalek:
"I think they’re good defensemen in the league. They have been for a number of years before they go here. I think they’ve been the whipping boys here, this year in particular. Last year, they fit in. They were a big part of our group having the sixth-best goals against in the league. But this year, didn’t play as well. Paul Martin (right), the last 20 games, I think was a plus-13. He finished a plus-9 on the year. But he was minus-11 at one point. And that’s not good and that’s not the expectation for us and that’s not the expectation for Paul Martin. … We have to make some decision on our defense as to whether or not if we have the right set up. … They’re both good defensemen. I think they’re taking an unfair rap here but they did not play I’m sure as they expected or we expected this year. But that goes to a number of players here as well, especially down the stretch. But we’ll have to figure it out and that’s part of the evaluation process."
On Marc-Andre Fleury (right):
"Looking at his season, and I’ve said this before, where Evgeni Malkin during the regular season of the league might be the MVP. Well Marc-Andre might be the MVP of our team during the regular season. The concern and evaluation of Marc-Andre is how he played in the playoffs. It wasn’t up to his standards or our standards in terms of what we needed. And that goes along with almost every single player. And I take full responsibility because it’s my team that I signed and re-signed and traded for. To a man, we did not do the job. I’m not singling out the goaltender, but he did not do the job just like any player, manager or coach on our team. … I think he’s in the prime of his career. We got down in the series 2-0 or 3-0 against Philadelphia and I had a few managers call me saying ‘Geez what’s going on with your team.’ I didn’t have a good answer for him. Of course, I didn’t have the greatest answer for them. General managers do vote on the Vezina Trophy. … These managers said to me, ‘He wasn’t in our top three, but he was like four or five maybe. We thought he had a great year.’ And he did … The body of work he had over the course of the season was very good and very strong for us. And just like the rest of our team, over the course of a 10-day period, it fell apart. So we have to sit back and we have to analyze this again. Because we certainly need to be better and he has to be better. We’ve got to figure out to help him. It’s not exactly easy to get goalies in this league and if you have a good one like Marc-Andre, you need to support him and make him better."
On the salary cap creating parity:
"We won the Stanley Cup, we had I think (Jordan) Staal and Malkin on their entry-level contracts. And I do remember (Red Wings coach) Mike Babcock saying after we beat them in 2009, that’s a heck of a team but now they’re going to have the same problem we have with the salary cap and signing players. I think all teams are faced with this in terms of the salary cap and the level playing field that has really come out of this. It’s like the NFL, you try to have a team that can compete every year to get into the playoffs, but as you see, once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen in this league. We just saw Washington beat Boston, you have a two versus seven match up. Every game was a one-goal game, four in overtime. That’s how close it is. It’s the way the league is. The challenge is for any manager or coach, you have to put your team in a position to get into the playoffs. In our particular case, it’s been very disappointing and really unacceptable to be losing in the first, second round with the team we have. We need to find a way to be better. The regular season is its own challenge. But when you get into the playoffs, match-up or no match-up, depending on who it is, you have to find a way to play your best hockey and get through that first round and move on."
On the season:
"This is definitely my most the season at the end of the year here for me that that is the most frustrating and disappointing that I’ve ever had. I’ve been a (general manager) for six years, an assistant (general manager) for 14 before that. This is the first year I’ve address the team after the season with what my feelings were. That was Monday. Yesterday was a little bit better. This morning, I’m still very displeased with how the season ended for us. Not a good person to be around right now."
(Photos: Shero, Staal and Malkin-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Michalek-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Martin-Christian Petersen/Getty Images; Fleury-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)