Ray Shero held court with the media this afternoon and touched base on a number of subjects including March 5 trade deadline and the Olympics. Here is the transcript:
How injuries will impact the trade deadline:
"I think with Paul [Martin] being out now along with Kris [Letang], I think it kind of goes back to where we were during the course of the season when we were giving some of these younger guys opportunities and they certainly did a good job for themselves. That’s part of the growth process for some these defensemen. We have played 10 games this year without Paul and Kris and I think we’re 8-2 without them. You certainly would prefer to have them."
"We’ll see what happens the next week or so with further injuries. Hopefully that won’t happen but at this point, adding any NHL defensemen for any team is going to be difficult. If we go back 2-3 months, the number of injuries we have had has given these younger player opportunity and experience to potentially help us down the stretch and the playoffs. We’ll evaluate the next week or so but I’m comfortable with what we have here in terms of on the roster and internally down on the farm but we’ll see what the next week brings us."
On how long-term injured reserve and how it might be applied to the Penguins:
"Long-term injury, you have to be out 10 games and 24 days at a minimum. You can have as many people on there as you want provided… teams that are at the salary cap can invoke long-term injury. Teams that are well under the salary cap, you can’t invoke long-term injury because you don’t need it. Long-term injury is basically if you go over the cap because you need to add players via call-up and so forth. Where we are here with long-term injury, we certainly have a number of players on there. We’ll wait and see where we are with Paul Martin. We’ll see where we are with Kris Letang and of course [Tomas] Vokoun who is on there. You just have to wait and see what your certain situations are going to be in terms of invoking [long-time injured reserve] on a guy."
"[Long-term injured reserve] is just basically to create more cap space for yourself to be able to call up players or replace players as your season goes along. A lot of moving parts with this [long-term injured reserve] and a lot of moving parts because we don’t know exactly where Kris Letang might be. Tomas Vokoun, we’re not sure yet. A little bit of a guessing game right now for us but we certainly have to have the most information we have to have by March 5."
On Pascal Dupuis' health and potentially finding a replacement for him:
"I think in terms of the rehab for him as part of strengthening the knee as much as possible, he had further damage as than just ACL, the MCL and so forth… so making his rehab as easy as possible and quick as possible. But as Dan [Bylsma] mentioned, six to eight months, it’s still going to quite the process. We certainly expect him back at 100 percent next season. Replacing Pascal Dupuis, I’m not sure that’s ever going to be possible."
"In terms of this trade market, there’s probably only four teams which are really out of a playoff spot at this particular point. In terms of the assets to grab players or try to make a play for players, we know it will be steep. It’s going come down to cap space and what you have in terms to add. This is the first year we’ve had a decrease and declined in the cap. And a number of teams are in the same position. We’ve played a number of games without Pascal. We’re certainly better with him but other guys have gotten opportunities and have certainly done a good job for us. We’ll just have to see what happens over the next week or so. In terms of trying to replace Pascal Dupuis with a top-line winger, I think that’s going to be a bit far fetched."
How did his role change when he assuming acting general manager duties when general manager David Poile suffered facial injuries and was not able to attend the Olympics:
My role didn’t change that much. It happened so quick with David being injured when he was in Minnesota. It was a few days before we left. My role just changed a little bit in terms of doing more media where he would have done the media to get the tournament started. Brian Burke was over there as well and Brian is a veteran guy who had been the [general] manager of the 2010 [United States Olympic] team. We were checking with David a couple of times a day giving him updates from the team. Nothing really changed there for me too much.
On how much he focused on his duties with the Penguins during the Olympic break:
"In terms of Penguins business for me over there, there was a lot of NHL general managers there. The Canadian staff had four or five guys over there. Myself, Brian Burke. So we had seven or eight general manager over there. I think we did fine. We were talking a little bit over there. Once the league shuts down for a couple of weeks. Some managers do take time to go scouting or take a break or go watch their farm team. I don’t think we missed too much. We were in contact. I was in contact with a few different managers over here. People were checking in. It was one of those things, ‘Hey, we’ll touch base when you get back.’ So I anticipate a lot of the work to be done by the managers over the next week. The Olympic break, what I found before was a little more down time than usual. But there are ongoing discussions. Most of them will take place this week."
How will he operate with regards to Kris Letang's recovery from a stroke with regards to the trade deadline and the rest of the season:
"I’m not exactly sure what we have cap-wise to be honest. There are moving parts here in terms of this [long-term injured reserve], in terms of the Vokoun situation, the Letang situation. We know Dupuis is gone for the season. I’m not operating under any premise right now regarding Kris Letang whether he’s coming back or not. I talked to him. We’re going to find the most information we can have by March 5. So I have not and he has not made a decision one way or another as to whether he is coming back or not. That possibility does exists. With all the information I need to have on our injured players by next Wednesday, part of that is with Kris and to make an educated guess if there is a chance for him to come back. With the information we do have with that point, I certainly would want to make that space available to Kris Letang so he could play some games before the playoffs."
"Some of its going to be getting the most information we can get on our injuries and making an educated guess and some of that might just depend on the trade market, the asking price and what we do have for cap space. That cap space, we’ll have real good idea come March 5 because we’ll have a better understanding as to where we are injury wise and who and who may not be coming back and some of the assumptions we’ll have to make."
Why were there more injuries to NHL players in this Olympic tournament compared to previous tournaments?
"I can only go to 2010 when there were any significant injuries that I recall. It was very, very fortunate. It’s a high-level tournament. It’s very, very competitive. Injuries are going to happen and this happened to be four or five significant injuries to NHL players including Paul Martin obviously."
Do the benefits the NHL gains from participating in the Olympics outweigh injuries to star players such as the Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg or the Islanders John Tavares?
"I don’t know. I think the NHL will have to take all the metrics they find of the benefit of playing over in Sochi and certainly under consideration for 2018. When you’re there, you appreciate being there. People have talked about the World Cup [of hockey] and that will be fantastic if that happens but the Olympics are the Olympics and to participate in that, for players to play in that… I’m not sure what the right answer is because everybody’s got a different opinion. Whether we should be in the Olympics or not be in the Olympics because of injuries to NHL players, that’s an answer for ownership. Obviously, they own the teams and the players are the greatest assets we have."
"Before we went, people asked about potential trades around the league and I think a number of managers were probably just waiting to see what happens and making sure their players came back healthy and 100 percent and certainly, that wasn’t the case with a number of good players. There is risk involved and that’s part of the problem but I believe it’s an exciting time of year for the NHL. The discussion for 2018, the benefits of that will certainly be taking place and it will be a higher level than myself."
On the United States' inability to score against Canada in the semifinal and the team's overall tournament:
"The game itself, I think it was a great game. I think the most exciting game in the tournament was USA-Russia. That was a fantastic game for the players and the audience. In terms of far as the expectation for [the Canada] game and how we played, the mindset for the team and the coaching staff’s message to the players was an aggressive nature. I think looking back at the game, I think the shots were 37-31 but I think they had the better opportunities in the game. But we had our chances. We had 31 shots. [Canada goaltender] Carey Price was really good when he had to be and [United States] goaltender Jonathan Quick played fantastic as he did throughout the tournament. You want to play a certain way. When the puck drops, the game was really fast as we all know and everybody has talked about."
"It’s been four or five days since that game. The message is always about how the [United States] didn’t play. I think the credit has to go to Canada. These guys were really, really good. There’s no denying that fact. That might be the greatest Olympic hockey team ever. To take a look at how they played the game, their goalie was good but their defense was fantastic. They were big, they were strong, they were mobile. Their fourth line, you got Matt Duchene and Rick Nash…. they were just deep, deep, deep. We can look at all the things at how we wanted to play, sometimes the opponent doesn’t let you get to that game and that’s a credit to them."
"I think we had a great group of players, a great group of caring guys that are leaders on their own team in the NHL. A number of captains. Thirteen guys from the 2010 team. A lot should be said about that and not so much negative about the Americans and how we played or how we didn’t score. Canada scored one goal. They did not score a lot of goals in the tournament and that was with a tremendous, tremendous team. Hats off to them. A good job by their players, their staff. It was one game and it was a good game. Nothing to be ashamed of.
"The only thing is coming back the next day against the Finns. We talked about it as a team, as a group with the players and what this means. We had a good first period. Eleven seconds, we were down 2-0 in the second period and we couldn’t recover for some reason. That’s the game you wish we could do over but obviously you can’t. But again, the Canadian game, we played a good, hard game but Canada was very good. Nothing wrong with saying that. We came in with high expectations because there’s nothing wrong with setting a high goal. We missed it. If we had lower expectations and hit them, that’s not so good either. That’s were the disappointment is."
"In 2010, there weren’t any expectations and next thing you know, you’re in the gold medal game. Now there are expectations. We did what we wanted to the first four games and played well. We played really well as a team. It was exciting. You play that Finland game on of the first three games and you lose like that, it’s not big deal. You can go 0-3 [in group play] and still win a gold medal. We just played that last game… there’s one game there. Through five games, you’re very proud of that team. It was a good group of guys. I believe they were well coached, well prepared. I think they represented the United States. Despite what some people want to say, they played hard. They were a caring group of guys and I’m proud to have been associated with them."
With so many NHL teams still in the playoff race, could you see more trades involving unrestricted free agents being traded for one another as opposed to prospects being dealt for rental players?
"Yeah, you could see that. I think that will go to a particularly need. If you want to trade a defenseman for a forward or vice versa, if you have that need, you’re not so concerned about the [unrestricted free agent’s] status. I could see that happening and a potential for that. It depends on the team’s need and what they might want. It’s certainly a possibility."
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