By Allan Muir
There was some famous science guy (I’m think it was Dr. Emmett Brown), who once said, “For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction.”
Or maybe it was someone on the TSN TradeCentre panel. That quote’s a hard one to place.
Anyway, the point is this: the Pittsburgh Penguins — the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins — made the first move on Sunday to secure that lofty position and hopefully better their postseason chances when they outbid the field for Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow. Then they upped the ante on Monday morning by acquiring hard-rock defender Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks.
GM Ray Shero is leading the way and daring the rest of the league to keep up. Just like he always does.
Now you can tell from the sound of corks popping in Pittsburgh that most fans there haven’t seen a lot of either player lately. Morrow has a big heart and he’ll give you everything he has, but his body is breaking down faster than Taylor Kitsch’s career. And Murray? Well, there was a time last year when some prankster inserted a photo of a pylon on his Wikipedia page.
But here’s the thing: Shero assessed his team’s deficiencies and addressed them to his satisfaction. He believes in those two guys, just like he believed in Hal Gill back in 2009. Gill was seen as a guy whose time had passed, but he filled a role admirably for a Pittsburgh team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.
While other general managers nibble at the corners, Shero has a track record of getting right to the heart of it, making bold, decisive acquisitions like Marian Hossa, James Neal, Tomas Vokoun and Chris Kunitz. And yes, Morrow and Murray.
So maybe neither player is a superstar in his prime, but that isn’t the point. While other GMs continue to kick the tires, Shero went out and got the guys he wanted at a price he was willing to pay.
And that’s the kicker. He hasn’t just made the effort to improve his own club. He’s set the market for every other team that’s hoping to get in before the deadline. And he set it high.
So now, anyone who wants to stay in the game is going to have to dig very, very deep. Or simply walk away from the table.
Even after those deals, Shero may not be done massaging his lineup. He has both the cap space and the personnel assets to make a significant move. Maybe two.
That’s championship-caliber leadership.
The question now is: who’s ready to react?