‘No hard feelings’ from Shero ahead of first game back in Pittsburgh

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Ray Shero accomplished many things during his eight years as Penguins GM — one Stanley Cup, two Finals appearances and nine straight playoff appearances.

Yet despite all that, he was relieved of his duties in May of 2014, paving the way for him to accept the GM gig in New Jersey almost exactly one year later.

Tonight, Shero’s new team will take on his old team at Consol.

More, from the Tribune-Review:

“No hard feelings on my end,” Shero said while driving to the house in Upper St. Clair that he still owns, where his family spent the Christmas break.

Proof came three weeks after his firing, when Shero phoned Rutherford to wish his replacement well. Shero also phoned Mike Sullivan, whom he knows well, to congratulate the Penguins’ new coach on his return to a top NHL job.

Of his first game as a visiting GM in the building he opened, Shero said: “It’s closure more than anything.”

“Not that it’s not there anyway, but if I went back (into Consol Energy Center) as a pro scout, it’s probably not the same thing.”

Shero’s first year in New Jersey has gone very well. Two of his best acquisitions — acquiring Kyle Palmieri from Anaheim, signing Lee Stempniak in free agency — have pushed the club into playoff contention; with a win tonight, the Devils could leapfrog Tampa Bay for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Shero’s other move of significance, hiring John Hynes as head coach, also has a decidedly Pittsburgh feel. Hynes was the longtime coach of the Pens’ AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and interviewed for the head coaching job after Dan Bylsma was fired (which eventually went to Mike Johnston).

“It was disappointing in a sense that you had an opportunity that you didn’t get,” Hynes said, per NorthJersey.com. “I think anyone that’s in that situation would like to move on (to coach in the NHL), but it was handled well. It wasn’t a bad situation by any means.

“I wasn’t at the right point the right guy for the job and that’s part of coaching.”