“One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong…”

As the father of a 2-year old daughter, I get more than my fill of Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and other highly annoying, mind-numbing children’s television.

I never get tired of that song, though. It’s right up there with Phineas & Ferb as one of my favorite kids’ things.

Especially when it can lay the foundation for yet another piece that certifies Ray Shero’s genius.

What am I talking about, exactly?

This: Brad Richards, $6.7 million, 26 points, $256,000 per point. Daniel Briere, $6.5 million, 25 points, $260,000 per point. Dany Heatley, $7.5 million, 25 points, $300,000 per point. Alex Ovechkin, $9.5 million, 25 points, $381,000 per point. Eric Staal, $8.25 million, 20 points, $412,500 per point. All of them in the Top 10 ‘Cap Hits’ in the NHL.

Just one of them in the Top 75 in scoring. All of them pictures of their respective general manager’s inefficiency.

Where’s the anomaly, then, you ask? Where is the exception to this bloated, overpaid non-star team that will prove King Shero’s ability to carve up cap space like a surgeon excising that rumored brain tumor that never existed in Sidney Crosby’s head?

We could point to Chris Kunitz, having the best season of his career thus far despite being blessed with Crosby’s presence on his line for just two weeks: $3.725 million, 25 points, $149,000 per point.

That would ignore the guy who’s “suffered” just as much from Crosby’s absence, though. The guy who over the past few seasons has spent almost as much time on 87’s wing as Kunitz. The guy who somehow seems to pull Mikhail Grabovksi speed out of his rear end at least once a night. The guy whose one-timers and slappers should be shown to kids as an example of how 90 mph, slightly rising, and perfectly placed will beat 105 mph and straight into the pillows any day of the week.

The guy whose $1.5 million cap hit and 25 points come out to just $60,000 per point: Pascal Dupuis.

This summer, many of us sat around wondering which veteran wingers would come and go while Shero tried to finagle his way under the cap. We got the Steve Sullivan surprise, the Max Talbot jilt, and flying under the radar, the Pascal Dupuis re-signing. It took $3 million over two years for Shero to bring Duper back into the fold, and at the time it had the feeling of maybe a little bit too much cheddar for a guy who will be 34 at the end of the contract and has hit the 20-goal plateau just once since his days in Shawinigan.

That feeling was awful.

In the midst of another season ravaged by injuries, at the close of a calendar year that will end with more man games lost for the Pittsburgh Penguins than Custer lost at Little Big Horn, guys like Dupuis have become the glue that holds this team together.

Among the names Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, and Letang, there isn’t a name that doesn’t belong. Dupuis, Vitale, Asham, Cooke, etc., etc. are like the others. All of them belong.

Especially at Shero’s price.

Chris Mack claims to be able to skate. To see him try, check out the Pittsburgh Celebrity Hockey Team on Wednesday December 28th at 9pm at the Bethel Park Bladerunners as they take on the Bethel Park Alumni Team. Joining Mack will be some actual local celebrities, including Pens Radio Host Steve Mears, DVE’s Mike Prisuta, KDKA-TV’s Ross Guidotti, and RMU Head Coach Derek Schooley.