Friday, April 27, 2012

After the Final Goal: Chris Harrison sits down with Pens GM Ray Shero

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Penguins' GM Ray Shero has given a lot of interviews over the past few days, but other than a few nuggets, no one has cracked him.  Enter Chris Harrison, host of ABC's The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, The Bachelor Pad, How I Met Your Bachelor, My Two Bachelors, Two Bachelors and a Pizza Place, and After The Final Rose.  He tears down walls for a living, and he doesn't even need to ask questions.

No wall too up. No rose too final.
Through back channels, GTOG has obtained an exclusive transcript of Harrison's recent sit-down with Ray Shero in which they recap the 2011-12 season and discuss the team's future.  Chris finds out what Ray is really thinking.

Harrison: A lot happened this season, Ray.

Shero: That's right, Chris. A lot did happen this season.  We started with a very odd press conference about Ferraris and revolving chairs and chiropractors.  We let our walls down as an organization into Sid's recovery, but it just seemed to invite more questions than answers.

Much more with Chris and Ray after the jump...

Harrison: And Canadian people were pretty upset by that.

Shero: With all due respect to the Canadian media, Chris, they can collectively put their lips on my ass.  They race to be the first ones to suggest that Sid's career is over and then criticize us for mishandling his recovery.  Well if his career is over, then there is no recovery to be had, am I right?

Harrison: Mmmhmm.

Shero: ...

Harrison: ...

Shero: ...

Harrison: Before we get to more about Sid, let's talk about the first half of the season.  There were a lot of games played during that half of the season.

Shero: There were a lot of games played.  And other than the 8 games when Sid came back, we were really carried by Geno and his linemates.  Our organization gets praised for having incredible depth, but the truth is that Geno's line was producing approximately 141% of our offense over the first 50 or so games of this season.

No journey too special. No heart too fragile.
Harrison: Some said you were a one line team.

Shero: I was exaggerating before.  There were some games when we were a one line team, but then there were others when that one line was so good that it obscured everything everybody else was doing.  That line was able to do whatever it wanted, including taking unlimited offensive zone penalties.

Harrison: Dan Bylsma is ok with offensive zone penalties.

Shero: I don't know if he's ok with them, but he appears unable to do anything about them.

Harrison: Let's talk about Sid's return in March.

Shero: ...ok...what about it?

Harrison: Go ahead.

Shero: Since you're not asking any questions, I'll interview myself.  Did we get full of ourselves when Sid came back in March?  How could we not?  We were on a ridiculous winning streak and we we're breathing down the Rangers' neck.  Add to that the best player in the league?  Of course we thought we were favorites.  We have -- excuse me, had -- the best team.

Harrison: Then you went repelling with Ashley.

Shero: Say what?

Harrison: I said, then other teams started complaining about the Pens being gutless whiners.

Shero: Right. I can't say that didn't bother us, even though it's unwarranted.  Look, we have the best players. We have a famous owner.  We win tons of games.  Basically we're the prettiest girl in the room.  We're Courtney, but without retracting lips.

Harrison: But it made you question your reasons.

Shero: I don't know what you're saying.  But yes, something about all that heat we were taking definitely affected us.  Did you see Game 3?

Harrison: Game 3 was a tough game for you.

Shero: Game 3 was an embarrassment in every sense of the word.  There was a time in the third period when I wanted to trade Crosby and Dan Bylsma for Bruce Boudreau and a pallet of K.C. Masterpiece.  But cooler heads ultimately prevailed, thank God, or my job would be even harder this summer.

Harrison: And then you won Game 4 and 5. And then you lost Game 6.

No episode too huge. No decision too tough.
Shero: Games 4 and 5 restored our honor, but we had dug ourselves way too deep of a hole.

Harrison: And there were certain guys who didn't pull their weight in Game 6.

Shero: I don't want to single anybody out.

Harrison: But there were.

Shero: I don't want to go there, Chris.

Harrison: ...

Shero: I'm not saying anything.

Harrison: ...

Shero: STOP

Harrison: This is hard for you.

Shero: FINE! IT WAS FLEURY! HE SUCKED! HE BLEW IT! I don't know what else I can say. I sat there in my news conference and I talked about the defense and the three-center model and Dan Bylsma, but the truth is that I could turn Tyler Kennedy into Steven Stamkos this summer and it won't matter if Fleury can't stop a 60 foot wrist shot from Erik Gustafsson.  If he keeps this shit up, we're screwed. I mean, did you see Brad Theissen this year?

Harrison: That feeling -- that feeling of vulnerability -- that's a tough feeling to feel.

Shero: I thought we were on the verge of a dynasty after 2009. Our core of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, and Letang was unmatched. Those guys all had a Cup win under their belt, and they were all still babies, all in their early 20's. Can you imagine?

Harrison: I can.  Now, if I may say so, there has to be some thought about whether it is necessary to break up this core group.

No reason too right.  No emotion too raw.
Shero: I attracted a lot of attention when I said at my press conference that we have to think about whether the 3-center model we have works.  Obviously, it works.  We have a Stanley Cup to back that up.  The issue is whether something else would work better.

Harrison: It comes back to vulnerability and your walls.  To trade one of these guys would be opening yourself up to heartbreak. That's not an easy thing to do.

Shero: Walls have nothing to do with this. Let's take these guys one at a time.  If we were to move Jordan Staal, we could get a lot of pieces in return...

Harrison: I don't want to talk about details. I want to talk about the emotional impact of breaking up this core.

Shero: (tearing up) It's a hard thing to talk about.  Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Fleury -- that's the Pittsburgh Penguins.  (sobbing)

Harrison: This isn't easy.

Shero: It's not easy. It's easy for fans and media to speculate about, but consider the position I'm in.  I know that what we have works.  Each of these guys is beloved.  To move one of them would take a big set of brass balls.

Harrison:  Mmhmm.  Big brass balls.  Especially with Sid.

No one-on-one date too crucial. No overnight card too creepy.
Shero: I hear the fans whispering that maybe we should move Sid.  We saw how taking a few big hits in the Flyers' series affected him.  But I want you, and the people listening, to think this through.  This is Sidney Crosby we're talking about.  This is a guy who has done everything we've expected him to do, and more.  He stepped into the shadow of Mario Lemieux, and stepped out of it carrying the Stanley Cup.  Little yinzer babies all over town are named Sidney.  Do you want him on the Maple Leafs?  Do you want him in LA?  Look, this is not Moneyball.  Creative statistics, scoring metrics, and salary cap space can't bring us equal value for Sidney Crosby.

Harrison: You're really feeling right now.

Shero: I am feeling.

Harrison: But you saw how Sid wasn't the same after he got run over by Malkin...

Shero: I did see that.

Harrison: And...

Shero: And...I just don't know.

No Blessing too big. No canceled cocktail party too shocking.

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