It's rare in the sports world to trade a star in his prime such as Jordan Staal, rarer still for the general manager making that trade to hear approval.


On a super-sized, spotlighted stage in front of thousands of standing, screaming fans.

That's exactly how it played out for the Penguins' Ray Shero on this bizarre, breathtaking Friday night at an NHL Draft no one inside Consol Energy Center will soon forget.

At 8:08 p.m., commissioner Gary Bettman captivated the crowd by announcing there had been a trade "that all of you might be interested in," then broke the word: Staal to Carolina for 23-year-old two-way center Brandon Sutter, defense prospect Brian Dumoulin and the Hurricanes' No. 8 overall pick that the Penguins invested in defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

The way the building erupted, you'd think Evgeni Malkin had just buried a top-shelf blast.

And you know what?

The fans got it right.

Shero got it right.

The Penguins got it right.

The clear message: Disrespect us, and there's the door.

Shero is far too classy to confess anything of the sort, as he proved when he took the podium for that No. 8 pick and opened by saying, "I'd like to thank Jordan Staal for six great years here in Pittsburgh and a Stanley Cup."

The crowd cheered that, too. Good for them. Staal deserved it. He was a from-the-heart performer and model citizen.

Of all the images I have of the young man, none will resonate more than how he was the last one in the locker room after each of these past two first-round playoff losses. Some do that for show. He was devastated.