Penguins general manager Ray Shero held a conference call this afternoon along with Pat Brisson, agent for captain Sidney Crosby, to discuss Crosby's new contract extension worth $104.4 million over the next 12 seasons.
Crosby agreed to a contract which will have the same salary cap hit or annual average value (AAV) as his current contract at $8.7. His current deal expires at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Today, the spoke with media about the deal.
On the contract:
Shero: "It’s a deal that we talked about that the longer term, we felt that was better for both the player and the team. This is his third NHL contract with the Penguins and we felt it appropriate it took him to a certain level of his career and to the end of his career. I said that a few months ago half way through the season that our goal this summer was to sign Sidney Crosby and make him a member of the Penguins for life. Hopefully that’s going to do that."
Was there ever any doubt this could get done?
Shero: "I wasn’t too sure because until you get to negotiations, you don’t exactly know how it’s going to go. We talked the last couple of mouth about structures and things like that. I sat down with Sid and talked to him. The balancing act here was to try and find a contract that could pay Sidney Crosby accordingly. But as Sid always says to me, ‘That’s fine, but how does that help the team.’ From a managers standpoint, the AAV is always important. He came back after he talked to Pat and said ‘This AAV is what I wanted.’ As I’ve said, he’s never been reluctant to help the team. I appreciate that and ownership appreciates that. It’s very beneficial and it says a lot about Crosby.”
Brisson: "Once the landscape was in place and we were talking it was important to Sidney as Ray mentioned here, to have a friendly AAV so to speak and to be in that ball park was very important to him."
Will this benefit you with regard to free agency which starts Sunday?
Shero: "If there’s players that fit what we’re looking for and if we’re what they’re looking for, we’ll go from there. We’re in a different spot than we were maybe a week ago with our salary cap situation. It’s good to have Sidney signed back up and (Evgeni Malkin) for two more years. To have these franchise players signed up, it’s good for the franchise no matter what happens."
Were you doubtful this could be an easy process?
Brisson: "Not really. When we started the discussion, Sidney wanted to be a Penguin forever. When this contract starts, he’ll be 26. He understands the structure. He’s been in Pittsburgh for seven years now and he knows how committed this organization is and it made sense to him to want to explore a long-term deal immediately."
Shero: "In my dealings with Sidney, I always thought he loved playing in Pittsburgh, he loved our fans, he loved our ownership in terms of how committed they are. From my standpoint as the general manager, I’ve got to thank the ownership, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, for stepping up and securing Sidney for basically the rest of his career here. Based upon Sid’s willingness and what he’s told me the last six years I’ve been here with him, and especially this past year and last month in my meetings with him, I never doubted it would probably get done. I was pretty certain it was going to get taken care of. But until it’s down, you’re never certain so it’s a good day for all of us."
How much does this aid you down the road in terms of potentially signing Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang or Mac-Andre Fleury to long-term deals?
Shero: "Dealing with just the Sid contract, the AAV number one is important. For a player of this magnitude and what he’s accomplished in the league, for the AAV to remain the same is very important. In terms of re-signing the players you mentioned, the future we will be under a new (collective bargaining agreement). I’m not sure what that’s going be obviously but those are important pieces. The thing with (Malkin) as the reigning MVP, it’s almost like having two kids you’re equally fond of. When the times comes and we know what the rules are going to be, we’re going to try to make (Malkin) happy as well and keep him a Penguin for a long time. And that will be our mindset when we have a new CBA in place. And we’ll see how Kris and Marc do as well. But the new rules are going to dictate what we can and can not do. But the $8.7 (million AAV) is certainly beneficial for the team and from Sidney’s standpoint, the long-term deal is beneficial for him."
How important was it for Crosby to remain in Pittsburgh long term?
Brisson: "He’s won the Cup there in Pittsburgh. The year before, the Penguins were the runner up. He went to the franchise when the franchise was literally at the bottom and was part of the build-up of this franchise. So he’s emotionally extremely attached to the fans and the city of Pittsburgh and the organization. It meant a lot to him. When you’re negotiating a contract like this of this magnitude, as a player, it’s important to understand what you want and where you want to be first. And Sidney understand that from day one. He was able to understand where he wanted to be and he wanted to be in Pittsburgh."
How is Crosby's health?
Brisson: "He’s been training in Los Angeles. He’s feeling great. He’s been training hard and feeling really well compared to last summer. It’s been night and day. It’s been very encouraging. He’s looking very well and he’s feeling well based on what he tells us. He’s looking forward to a great season."
(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)