PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero wasn't just backed into a corner, he was pretty much trapped there.
Not only did he have to trade Jordan Staal, he essentially had to trade him to the Carolina Hurricanes.
In that context, the deal he made is exceptional. Center Brandon Sutter will be cast as Staal's replacement in the No. 3 center role, the Penguins got a prime draft pick to snag defenseman Derrick Pouliot and Brian Dumoulin adds to the organization's considerable defensive depth.
But even though the Penguins got a fair return, it doesn't mean they won't miss Staal.
Maybe his talent was never fully appreciated here because he was stuck behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Maybe there's less appreciation for his defensive skills on a team with spectacular offensive players.
Staal was the guy who could lead the penalty killing unit, take the important faceoffs and use his big frame to take away space from the other teams' best players. He had the kind of competitive drive that comes from growing up on a farm with a bunch of brothers.
Given a bigger role in Carolina, combined with the comfort level of having his brother as a teammate, look for Staal to blossom there.
Shero is a pragmatic man trying to deal with the realities of the salary cap and his team's playoff disappointment.
Changes are inevitable in today's game. This is one Shero made because he had to, not because he wanted to.
Sending defenseman Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix clears up some cap space that should allow Shero to shop for free agents.
It's low-risk, given the defensive talent the Penguins have stockpiled.
Can the Penguins even dream of adding tenacious winger Zach Parise to their top line?
Poor Cleveland. Not only do the city's sports fans have to watch LeBron James holding the NBA championship trophy, they also know Browns training camp will be opening soon.
One good thing about having alumni Bill Mazeroski and Bill Virdon on the Pirates bench for a game last week:
Root Sports was able to obsess on shots of them standing in the dugout in place of the usual hundred shots of Clint Hurdle chewing gum.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com