Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Psychology of Ray Shero

By Artistry

An insane person once called the Penguins one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. In recent days, many others, including fans and media, have come to share that sentiment. But the word "arrogant" suggests a sense of entitlement that really applies more to a growing legion of Penguin fans -- those who seem to believe a roster with Sid and Geno means anything less that a Stanley Cup is unacceptable, so get rid of everyone and ask questions later. Ray Shero is not arrogant. Quite the opposite. If you watched his press conference on Wednesday and think otherwise, grab a dictionary. No, the Penguins general manager is not overbearing or insolent or self-important. You may disagree with any number of his decisions: to stand by Dan Bylsma, to commit to fixing Marc-Andre Fleury, or to extend Malkin until he's 35-years-old. All fair game. Criticize away. But if you've been paying attention, you know exactly who Ray Shero is and what he will do.

How Ray Shero developed his steady hand, after the jump...

Ray Shero became an assistant general manager for the barely hatched Ottawa Senators in 1993. They were terrible, and they had no idea what they were doing. During Shero's tenure, the Sens had two GM's with no prior GM experience in Randy Sexton and Pierre Gauthier.  Randy Sexton drafted Alexandre Daigle with the no. 1 pick in the 1993 draft. Great pick, Randy Sexton! There were subsequent terrible picks, and terrible hiring decisions. The Sens fired Rick Bowness, who had a terrific head of hair, and hired Dave Allison, and who the hell is Dave Allison. Let me answer that: Dave Allison is the guy who went 2-22-1 as coach of the Ottawa Senators. The team finally turned the corner with the hiring of Jaques Martin in 1996, a good coach who remained at the helm in Ottawa for the next 8 years. So young Ray Shero learned some things there.

How to lose 70 games in 100 days.
In 1998, Shero joined the expansion Nashville Predators. As you'd expect, the Preds were bad. Not historically bad, but for the first couple of years, they were very respectably expansion-level bad. Then they began a steady ascension, to the point where when Shero left for Pittsburgh, they were a 100 point team and a contender. And here's the thing you may not know about the Predators, or maybe you forgot. Over 15 seasons, they have had exactly one general manager and precisely one coach.

So Ray Shero learned some things there, too.

After some early success in Pittsburgh with Michael Therrien -- who was not Shero's hire -- the team soured on Therrien and Shero brought in his guy Dan Bylsma. One thing is very clear from the fallout after the Boston series: no one on the Penguins is souring on Bylsma. You may think that's part of the problem, but Ray Shero thinks otherwise. So when virtually everyone else was calling for the coach's head, Ray Shero extended Bylsma's contract. Ray Shero said he would extend Evgeni Malkin, and he did. Ray Shero will now offer Kris Letang a contract, probably in the neighborhood of 8 years, $48 million, and Letang will in all likelihood turn it down. Ray Shero will then trade Kris Letang.

None of this is happening because Shero is arrogant. It's happening because he's supremely confident. He's the guy who studies the landscape, does his analysis, tells you exactly what he's going to do, and then does it. Without bluster. Without apology. [Although, if you watched his presser, with no small amount of rambling.] He may end up being spectacularly wrong about Bylsma or Fleury or any number of things. And maybe you've already rendered your verdict, decided that you know how this will all play out, and declared Ray Shero guilty of gross mismanagement. That is certainly your prerogative. But then who's the arrogant one?


  1. pens don't like wasting money. so of course they are going to keep maf and byslma as they have existing contracts. and now byslman has an extension. pens also take a lot of education from their neighbors, the steelers. they want to be an organIzation that players and personel want to come to. so by keeping a coach or believing in their goalie to put their franchise into the highly respectable level then by all means thats what they are going to do. but if they want to drink from lord stanley then get a new coach and a new goalie. which is one of their inside debates. if they get rid of byslma or maf, then are they going to get someone that their 2 stars want or can do better than who they have now. don't replace just to replace. but at least i can think that the pens won't be drinking in the next 2 years. hopefully i'm wrong, stats prove i'll be right.

    1. stats are a (less than perfect) summary of the past. they are not a crystal ball. they may predict that you will be right, but certainly cannot prove it. Besides, there is a stat to be found that can support just about any prediction. (yes, there is a stat that supports that statement)

  2. And those 2 comments seem to further explain the difference between arrogance and confidence

  3. I also feel we'll see two more play off exits. But I hope I'm wrong. Our issues don't lie with one coach or player. It's an ugly combination of not being able to adjust on the coaches and players parts. Not playing sound defense - or even having a defensive philosophy. We as fans think a new coach may kick that all into gear. Adjust better, play better defense.But they'd have to get the players to buy in. It's tough to figure out not just why but how the Pens continue to meltdown in the playoffs. Battling it out and losing is one thing, complete meltdowns are something else. Coach? Players? Captain? In Shero We Trust...I guess.