By Mark Madden
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent | Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 12:30 am
In the days of Penguins bankruptcy, the motive for trading Joe Morrow for Brenden Morrow would have been obvious: A new nameplate wouldn’t be required for the acquisition’s jersey. Money saved. Cash was tight.
Now, the motive seems equally obvious.
Televised poker has led to the phrase “all in” becoming hackneyed, but the Penguins are indeed “all in.” The window is open. Winning now is an ownership mandate. General manager Ray Shero is charged with executing said dictum, and he’s executing it well.
“All in” trickles down. When management wants to win as much as the players do, the players get even more motivated. Adding key components without losing established players is a bonus. Chemistry remains intact.
The Penguins’ locker room is “all in.” Sidney Crosby strikes me as too intense to bluff. He probably doesn’t even know how.
Joe Morrow is a big-time prospect. But the Penguins have plenty of what Joe Morrow’s got.
The Penguins need what Brenden Morrow’s got.
Brenden Morrow provides a gritty winger to do the dirty work for Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. He is a different kind of locker-room leader, a veteran compliment to Crosby. He is 34. This may be his last best chance at a Stanley Cup.
Brenden Morrow is “all in.”
Joe Morrow provides later. Brenden Morrow provides now.
Douglas Murray is 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and plays like it. He’s not fast or skilled with the puck, but Murray can be an intimidating hitter and has a solid defensive foundation. Murray is 33. This may be his last best chance at a Stanley Cup, too. Murray is “all in.”
Murray dated Tiger Woods’ ex after the split. His nickname is “Crankshaft.” My mind reels with things this paper won’t publish.
The second-round draft pick sacrificed for Murray might help someday. Murray helps now.
Each franchise must decide on its priorities. Some clubs just want to make the playoffs every year. Consistency in the standings equals consistency at the box office. Finances come first.
But the Penguins will sell every ticket at Consol Energy Center as long as Crosby is on the team. Given that, and given an amazing nucleus of talent that has Crosby as its centerpiece, the Penguins can take risks.
These trades are not without risk. Brenden Morrow was not sparkling with Dallas. Murray was struggling with San Jose.
But a move to Pittsburgh and a shot at a Stanley Cup should provide both a shot of adrenaline. Morrow and Murray are rentals. You’re not looking for a new beginning. You’re looking for an effective last gasp.
The future is now. Worry about later, later. That goes for team and player.
Shero was previously assistant GM at Nashville, a franchise that worries about selling tickets. He needed prodding from owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle to pull the trigger on the 2008 deadline deal that netted Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and a Stanley Cup final.
Shero has since been fearless. His transactions have been right on the money a lot more often than not.
Trust these deals because Shero made them.
Joe Morrow was a first-round draft pick. But so was Angelo Esposito, who went to Atlanta in the Hossa/Dupuis deal. Esposito plays in Italy now.
Joe Morrow is a highly-regarded defensive prospect. So are Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington. Simon Despres is racing right past prospect all the way to bona fide big-leaguer. The organization likes Despres, Maatta and Pouliot more than Joe Morrow. The organization wasn’t crazy about Morrow’s attitude or maturity.
Second-round picks can be valuable. But the last time the Penguins used that choice with any impact was 1976. Greg Malone. Ryan’s father. Since then, it’s been a bunch of Ryan Stones and Shane Endicotts.
The Penguins traded unproven for proven, unknown for known. They traded from surplus to fill needs. That’s what teams within reach of a championship do. What they should do, and must do.