You didn’t see the Iginla trade coming? Don’t feel bad, neither did the rest of the NHL.
The average Boston Bruins fan probably woke up this morning, fired up their laptop, and checked the latest news on Jarome Iginla’s destined trade to their beloved B’s. These fans were greeted by the stunning headline that Iginla had instead been dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins for what looks to be the fairly paltry haul of two college players and a first round draft pick.
Penguins GM Ray Shero has declared that the team is all in, “What are you supposed to say, that we’re not all in? Yeah, we’re all in. We want to win.”
It is almost certain that the Bruins or any other team might have made a better offer to Calgary for Iginla, but the star forward wanted to come to Pittsburgh. Iginla’s wishes speak volumes about both the Penguins chances of hoisting the Cup this year, and the reputation of the franchise. The Pittsburgh Penguins have added the captains of two other teams to a group that is sitting a top the Eastern Conference, and riding a 13 game winning streak.
This isn’t supposed to happen in the salary capped NHL.
Teams that are already stacked with talent like the Penguins are, aren’t supposed to be able to go out and add even more. But the Penguins were able to do exactly that because of good management, and a top to bottom commitment to winning. If Sidney Crosby doesn’t take a discounted deal on his contract extension, the Morrow and Iginla trades don’t happen. If Ray Shero wastes money on expensive free agent gambles, the Penguins aren’t in a position to make these deals. If the Penguins don’t draft well, they don’t have the prospects to trade.
The Pittsburgh Penguins from Mario Lemieux on down have sold the entire franchise on putting winning first. People are comparing the Penguins moves to the NBA’s Miami Heat, but they are a lot closer to the NFL’s New England Patriots. The Penguins have a superstar playing at a discounted rate, draft well, have an organizational system in place, and have become a destination spot for players who want to win.
The Penguins have given the NHL both a must see team, and the top story line for the playoffs.
Constructing a team with top talent, and winning the Stanley Cup are two very different things. The games still have to be played. Those same Bruins and six other Eastern Conference teams will be looking to knock off Pittsburgh come playoff time.
Cups aren’t won on paper, but Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins have left the rest of league scrambling to catch up.
To borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, the Pittsburgh Penguins are in it to win it.