To become a successful General Manager of a hockey club, you need to have out of this world skills in negotiations. Whether that be dealing with your team’s superstar wanting a new contract or shopping around for that deal that could elevate your star to a whole new level. In the NHL this is something the GM position is so crucial that everything could easily collapse if you make the wrong choice.
One of the best in the business is New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero.
So who is Ray Shero? Well he has hockey in his blood for sure, as he is the son of former New York Rangers defenceman Fred Shero. However, his father is more famous for his coaching exploits as he was the man behind the bench when Philadelphia’s “Broad Street Bullies” won their back-to-back Stanley Cup triumphs in 1974 and 1975. Ray also played hockey himself and was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1982 draft; 216th overall in round 11. However, young Ray (birth name Rejean) never made it into “The Show” at all as a player.
Ray began his GM apprenticeship in 1993 when he was made assistant to then Ottawa GM Randy Sexton and then served in the same position for three further years under Pierre Gauthier before leaving the Senators to join the newly created Nashville Predators in the same role under David Polie in 1998. Shero stayed in “Smashville” for eight years before being appointed to his first General Manager position with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006; the year after the Penguins had chosen Sidney Crosby with the number one draft pick.
Shero lasted eight years with the Penguins, and was in charge of them when they won the 2009 Stanley Cup with an overtime winner from Maxime Talbot. However, that proved to be the zenith as regards Shero’s GM tenure there and after five consecutive exits – the Penguins took the decision to relieve him of his duties in May 2014. It was inevitable. Yet, almost a year later Shero was back in employment as a General Manager when he succeeded Lou Lamoriello at New Jersey.
Shero’s dealings at the Prudential Centre have been already the stuff of legend with so many notable acquisitions made. From swapping defenceman Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall is one such masterstroke. Other transactions that Shero has pulled off include swapping a first round pick (9th overall) to acquire Cory Schneider, the Kyle Palmieri trade that saw picks heading the Ducks way and finding gems such as Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher and most recently Nico Hischier. Now the trade centre is wide open, who knows what this master wheeler and dealer will come up with next for the Devils. He certainly has some kind of touch, a touch which would make Arfur Daley proud.
For New Jersey Devils fans like myself, one can only but wait and see. Imagine what he would be like in the Elite League..