During his seven-year tenure as Penguins general manager, Ray Shero has crafted a team that won a Stanley Cup, played in two Cup Finals, played in three Eastern Conference Finals, won two Atlantic Division titles and made seven straight playoff berths.
Now he has another accomplishment to add to his growing list of accolades. On Friday evening, Shero was named the 2013 NHL General Manager of the Year.
“It’s a great honor,” Shero said. “It’s not something you set out to do. Any general manager’s mandate is to place the best team possible and have a successful franchise, running that accordingly.
“It’s a great honor, but it’s a reflection of our ownership group, our coaching staff led by Dan Bylsma, my assistants, (assistant general manager) Jason Botterill. I’m very proud of it and happy to accept that.”
Shero, 50, was certainly the most active general manager this season – particularly at the NHL’s trade deadline.
Shero made early moves in the offseason that changed the dynamic of the team. He acquired Tomas Vokoun from the Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals for a 2012 seventh-round draft pick, and then signed the netminder to a two-year contract, on June 4.
Vokoun was the Penguins’ playoff hero, entering Game 5 of the first round series against the Islanders and leading the team to the Eastern Conference Final, posting a 6-5 record, 2.01 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
Shero was also was busy at the 2012 NHL Draft. He started by shipping center Jordan Staal – Shero’s first-ever draft pick with the Penguins in 2006 – to Carolina in exchange for Brandon Sutter, prospect Brian Dumoulin and the eighth-overall pick (Derrick Pouliot). He finished the day by sending defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix for prospect Harrison Ruopp, a goalie prospect and third-round draft pick (Oskar Sundqvist).
But this season will most likely be remembered most for Shero’s big splash in the week leading into the NHL’s annual trading deadline. In a 10-day span, Shero pulled the trigger on four trades that brought captain Brenden Morrow, Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, physical blueliner Douglas Murray and versatile winger Jussi Jokinen to Pittsburgh.
“When you have the assets that we had and the cap space that we had, the ability to add and try to win, build those expectations was exciting,” Shero said. “It didn’t end the way we had hoped, that’s why it’s disappointing.
“We try to put ourselves in a position to win every year if we can. It was an exciting week for us.”
Shero’s award is the second NHL award for the Shero family. His father, Fred, led the Philadelphia Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and ’75 and was named the first-ever recipient of the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. Now father and son have their names enshrined on several pieces of hockey hardware.
“He was a great influence on my upbringing, being around the game all my life, and instilled the passion I have for the game,” Ray said. “Whether it was going to practice with him when I was 5 years old, being around hockey all my life.
“To have your name on the Stanley Cup along with your father and to have awards likes this is really special. That’s a great thing for the family.”
Shero has accomplished a lot during his reign with the Penguins, transforming a franchise that finished near the bottom of the standings in four straight seasons to a perennial championship contender every year. Of all of his accomplishments, Shero is most proud of how far the team has come since he was hired in May of 2006.
“I look back to my first year in ’06-07 and where we are now, to see what we’ve been able to build here from our ownership group on down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, our coaching staffs, training staffs, that’s what I’m proud of,” Shero said. “People enjoy working here, playing here, are motivated by their jobs. That’s a foundation I’m real proud of. We have a good future ahead of us.
“As a manager that is the mandate you have, outside of trying to win a Stanley Cup every year, is put yourself in a position to build a team or franchise that you can be proud of. I think we’ve done that.”
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