By Allan Muir
Peter Chiarelli has to be feeling a bit like Mary Ann Summers this morning.
Summers, of course, was the beautiful, charming young castaway stranded on a desert island with one other eligible woman…who just happened to be the world’s most beautiful movie star.
It didn’t take her long to get comfortable with the First Runner-Up sash. Looks like Chiarelli’s getting used to it, as well.
Twice in the last week, the GM of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins has put an offer on the table for a player he hoped would help his team raise another banner in 2013. And twice he could do nothing but watch as Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero — the Ginger Grant of the NHL — stole those players away with a wink and a smile.
Didn’t matter that Chiarelli offered more substance. Shero dangles the sizzle of skating alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin while working for owner Mario Lemieux. Who can resist?
Hey, the heart wants what it wants, right?
So no one’s blaming Jarome Iginla or Brenden Morrow for picking the Pens over the B’s. Those two veterans were fortunate to have a no-trade clauses in their current contracts, which ultimately allowed them to choose their own destination when they were pushed out the door by the Flames and Stars, respectively. Good for them.
But it’s a kick to the gut for Chiarelli, who is left wondering what he has to do put one over on Shero.
The key now for Peter the Patient will be resisting the urge to overcompensate.
Pittsburgh isn’t invincible, not as long as they have Marc-Andre Fleury in net, so no one’s suggesting that Chiarelli fold up the tent and wait ’til next year. But these Penguins on paper look as strong as any Eastern team since Lemieux’s playing days, and the Bruins lack both the forward depth and defensive jam to go head-to-head with them. And let’s face it: Acquiring rentals to go for the Cup this year at the expense of prime, long-term organizational assets makes a lot less sense this morning than it did last night.
If Chiarelli still feels compelled to make a splash, he should be gravitating toward a player with term on his contract. That won’t be easy given Boston’s tight cap situation for next year. It might even demand that a current roster player be moved in order to create some space. But a longer-range battle plan makes sense given how handily Pittsburgh is winning this year’s arms race.
And while Chiarelli was snubbed by a pair of physical forwards, what he should be focusing on is a top-four defender, a veteran with some bite to his game who is reliable in his own end and capable of moving the puck. Someone like Stephane Robidas of the Stars would be a good fit. He plays bigger than his size and has that junkyard dog mentality. He’s slotted too high as a No. 1 with the Stars, but would excel as a more natural No. 4 with the Bruins.
Best of all, Robidas has one more year on his deal. He couldn’t spurn Boston for Pittsburgh if he wanted to.