“In Shero We Trust” is quite possibly one of my favorite phrases in all of Sports Fandom. One possible reason is because of its similarity to a high school senior telling his prom date that he loves her (or him because this is the 21st century, Jack): Sure, it may be true for now, but it may not take much to change his mind (or hers because this is the 21st century, Jane). And you never know where that imaginary line lies.
Sunday afternoon we got to see this exact theory put to the test as rumors became truths live on the twitter machine. Ray Shero and Dallas Stars’ GM Joe Nieuwendyk brokered a deal that brought Brenden Morrow and a 3rd round pick to the Steel City in exchange for Pens’ prospect Joe Morrow and a 5th round pick. Instant analysis from Pens’ fans’ twitter accounts varied drastically with some praising the move and others adopting the new - but, as of this writing, unused - “In Shero We Trust (But Only As Far As We Can Throw Him).”
There is a certain irony to this sentiment, however. An irony rooted in the subject of Economics, which is a subject I love like a fat kid loves cake.
“In Shero We Trust” was derived from our currency, which many people consider the entire basis of Economics. But for those of us who have taken an Econ101 course – and stayed awake through the first two minutes – we realize that economics is more about the relationship between wants, needs, haves and have-nots. In sports, this is as true as anywhere else. GMs Shero and Nieuwendyk both understand this.
The Pens have arguably had two needs all season: grit and defensive consistency. Morrow, the longest-tenured Captain in Minnesota/Dallas franchise history brings a little of the former. He brings size. He brings a willingness to get in the dirty areas. Mostly he brings more veteran leadership, in and out of the locker room, which is an invaluable resource in today’s league. Shero is probably not done in terms of addressing the latter.
The other side of the coin involves Joe Morrow. Scouts love him. Fans love him. His mama loves him. And rightfully so. He’s got a great skill-set. He’s got a decent frame for a young defenseman. His upside is undeniable. You don’t get chosen first in the draft by a team without that upside.
That said, a few years ago, a trend started that heavily affected the movement of the young defenseman. In today’s NHL, many of the stars of the game are signed to long-term deals, making free agency effectively a seller’s market. This year, the Pens are buyers. Ray Shero summed this up nicely, saying “I don’t set the prices. The selling team does.”
It was hard for Nieuwendyk to part with Morrow. Of that I am certain. We always expect GMs to say that in a trade announcement presser, but the guy was captain for nearly 7 years, having taken over that role from future Hall of Famer Mike Modano. Lip service no longer applies.
I’m equally certain that a stall in the Stars’ locker room will be left open for the captain’s possible return right around July 1st. It is being reported that Nieuwendyk stated that naming a new captain is not something he feels is necessary at this point, fueling that speculation.
What I’m not so sure about is whether – IF he were to return to the Big D – Brenden Morrow would have to add a “B” to his name plate to distinguish himself from the youngster. Nor am I certain that Joe Morrow will even make an NHL roster. Too many “stars” have missed their opportunity for far too many reasons.
The reality is that Dallas set their price. Ray Shero weighed his needs against his wants, his haves against his have-nots. And then agreed to the deal.
Ladies and gentlemen, ECONOMICS!!!!
UPDATE: After this article was written, the Pens traded for veteran defenseman Douglass Murray of the San Jose Sharks. The cost was a 2nd round pick in 2013 and a conditional 2014 pick. Incidentally, this deal was likely made possible through the acquisition of the Stars’ 3rd round pick in the Morrow for Morrow trade. The lesson in that is that the body of work is what counts more than one individual maneuver. In Shero We Trust.