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03-28-2013, 11:37 AM
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The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much of an evil genius Shero is.

Before I even go into what he did, let's start by describing the context of the past week or so. Calgary has Iginla, who has basically been the franchise for over a decade. He's on the last year of a contract on a team that's going nowhere fast and looking to jump start a rebuild, is 35 going on 36, and has yet to win a Cup. A classic scenario where one would expect the Flames to deal him to a contender for picks and prospects in order to start over. Now here's the first important detail: Iginla has a NMC. Between that and his value to that franchise, what this means is that he's the one who's actually in control of whatever trade involving him would go down. This is the first thing that had me understanding how Shero landed him: HE NEVER PLANNED ON ACTUALLY NEGOTIATING WITH FEASTER. Feaster, in this situation, is nothing more than a middle man, because Shero and Iginla are actually negotiating through him. On top of that, it was leaked that Pittsburgh was one of the teams Iginla would be willing to be traded to. And that was when a devious, devious plan formed in Shero's mind.

You see, the basis of the negotiations between Shero and Feaster (actually Iginla) was not to send the package that Calgary would find the most appealing, but to prove to Iginla that his best shot at getting a Cup was to join the Penguins. So how would they go about doing that? Lesser GMs would simply try to convincing Feaster and Iginla through WORDS that the Pens were in the best position to win this year. Shero knew that WORDS meant nothing, especially if you couldn't talk directly to the one guy you were actually negotiating with. So come Sunday, phase one of the master plan was executed: we acquire Brendan Morrow from the Stars.

At first glance, everyone here concluded two things: we gave up way too much in futures by sending Joe Morrow Dallas' way and either took ourselves out of the chase for Iginla or at least made it much less likely that we'd acquire him. Similar conclusions were made here with Douglas Murray when we traded for him on Monday. But it was actually the opposite: we made the ultimate pitch to Iginla to join the Pens. Even the fact that we overpaid for those two was, I suspect, 100 % intentional in Shero's part, because it sends two messages:

1. To Iginla: ‘We have just added two veteran, experienced, grinding and most importantly, CUP-HUNGRY players for our Cup run, and we were willing to sacrifice some of our future for them. We've also added some leadership to a team that wasn't really lacking in it (Crosby, Vokoun, Orpik), especially Morrow who has concrete evidence of it by virtue of having been the Stars' captain prior to joining us. We're not full of hot air when we said we believe that we're the favorites to win it all. Other teams can claim all they want that they think they'll give you the best chance to win, but who's out there actually doing anything about it other than us?’

Naturally, the message was received by Iginla without him ever hearing a word from the Penguins organization.

2. To the rest of the league: ‘We have just paid through the nose in order to just add depth to our lineup. If you want to get on our level, be prepared to pay the same price, or you'll just be left behind.’

Basically, by overpaying for Morrow and Murray, not only does Shero show Iginla that we're all in, but he also jacked up the prices league-wide needed to pay just for the chance for any other team to try to match the Pens. A true double knockout: the point of the first two trades wasn't just to acquire good depth players, but to set us up to pick up a third piece, the biggest one of them all, and at the same time, he plays not only Calgary for fools, but the entire league. Dallas and San Jose can pat themselves on the back all they want for ripping off Shero, and they’d be right to do so, but in the process, every other contender is stuck fighting over the remaining scraps going for a premium now. On a related note, notice that Boston, the Pens’ biggest obstacle in the Eastern Conference, was blocked twice now from improving their team with Morrow and Iginla.

It turns out we were all extremely short-sighted: Shero was never worried about overpaying in individual trades, as long as it meant that we would come out better by the end than when we started. The concrete version of this concept is simply imagining all three trades as one big one:

Pens give up:
- Joe Morrow
- Kenneth Agostino
- Ben Hanowski
- 2013 1st round pick
- 2013 2nd round pick
- 2013 5th round pick
- 2014 3rd round pick (2014 2nd round pick if the Pens make the second round of the playoff or we re-sign Murray)

And receive:
- Jarome Iginla
- Brendan Morrow
- Douglas Murray
- 2013 3rd round pick

Suddenly, the trades, put together, don't seem bad at all, do they?

This was Shero's master plan all along. Like a true chess master, he cares not for the lost battles, but only seeks to win the war. I'd say this goes a LONG way towards winning that war.

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