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Thursday, May 25, 2006
Shero hired by Pens after talks with Bruins lapse

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Ray Shero is the Pittsburgh Penguins' new general manager, signing a five-year contract Thursday after the Nashville Predators assistant general manager broke off talks with the Boston Bruins.

Fred Shero
Shero, who spent eight years with the Preds and seven with the Sens, signed a five-year deal.

Shero replaces Hall of Fame executive Craig Patrick, whose contract was not renewed in April after 16-plus years on the job.

"I think I'm ready for it; I've had 14 years as an assistant [GM]," Shero said. "I'm thrilled to get this thing going."

The 43-year-old Shero is the son of former Stanley Cup-winning coach Fred Shero of the Philadelphia Flyers. The younger Shero spent eight years with Nashville after serving as Ottawa's assistant general manager for seven years.

Shero was a player agent before becoming a front-office executive. In college, he was a two-time captain for St. Lawrence University.

The Penguins, two-time Stanley Cup winners with Patrick as GM in 1991 and 1992, are coming off four consecutive last-place finishes in their division. They have won no more than 28 games in any season since reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, following a series of salary-shedding moves that included star Jaromir Jagr.

The Penguins tried to rebuild after the one-year labor shutdown with older free agents and spent millions last year on Sergei Gonchar, Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Ziggy Palffy, with little return. Shero said his goal is long-term building, rather than a one-season fix to reach the playoffs.

"You have to have a vision, a plan -- and patience," Shero said. "And with the new [NHL] collective bargaining agreement, it doesn't have to take that long. If you look at the four conference finalists [Buffalo, Carolina Edmonton and Anaheim], none of them were in the playoffs the last time."

Shero said any executive would be excited to take over a team led by 18-year-old Sidney Crosby and former No. 1 pick Marc-Andre Fleury, with young Russian star Evgeni Malkin -- the No. 2 pick in 2004 -- expected to arrive next season. But he said the Penguins need more depth and more third- and fourth-line players willing to do the hard work.

Shero was hired after Penguins president Ken Sawyer conducted a one-man search to fill the position, declining to comment on all candidates. Initially, Shero was apprehensive about taking over a club with a coach -- Michel Therrien -- already in place with a multiyear contract but now is comfortable with the situation. Therrien took over in December after former coach Eddie Olczyk was let go following a terrible start.

"There have been so many changes, with players, management and coaches, they need some stability here," Shero said. "I think I can work well ... with Michel. My feeling is we can win a Stanley Cup together."

While in Nashville, Shero oversaw the Milwaukee Admirals minor-league club and was involved in contract negotiations, scouting and various day-to-day club operations. He has been pushed for a general manager's job by Nashville GM David Poile.

"There's a sense he's ready," Sawyer said. "Everyone around the league was saying he's the guy."

Shero appeared ready to take the Bruins' general manager job earlier this week, but talks may have broken down over compensation and authority issues. Shero is expected to be given wide latitude involving player issues in Pittsburgh, where Patrick was always in charge of all player acquisitions.

Shero did not say he chose the Penguins over the Bruins but suggested he felt more comfortable working for Sawyer and owner Mario Lemieux. Shero becomes the ninth general manager in Penguins history.

Shero said he doesn't want to hear any players complaining about the Penguins' arena issue -- they have sought a new building for years -- or the team's possible sale or talk the club may have to relocate if no arena is built.

"I want to be in Pittsburgh. I want to be here for a long time," he said.