Five Thoughts for Friday
Methot, Murray, and Melnyk all speak to the media this week, leaving me with lots to think about.
1. Oh boy, so this whole "negotiating through the media thing" has kind of become a mess, eh? The Senators have tried this tactic a couple times this summer, going back to when Murray leaked that Jason Spezza had asked for a trade. More recently, he said that Marc Methot's camp had asked for 5 years at $5.5-million. But when the tables get turned, Assistant GM Pierre Dorion gets feisty. Methot's agent, Larry Kelly, had a few choice words to say to the Ottawa Sun about how the two sides were only $300k apart per year, so there was no reason a deal hadn't been done unless the team wanted an excuse to ship out his client. Seems like a way of using public opinion to force the Sens' hand. But then Dorion lost his metaphorical feces, saying "I don't know if I've been more disappointed." Yikes.
In the 24 hours since, everyone's been saying the right things, staying quiet, saying it's for the bargaining table, not the media. But still, I think Dorion overstepped his bounds. Kelly's play may have been a little bit unfair, but insulting a player's agent is probably not the best move. Especially after last summer's debacle with J.P. Barry. Whether or not Methot sticks around, the community of NHL agents is not large, and management would do well not to alienate them all.
2. I personally don't think Murray's original comments to Bob MacKenzie were particularly inflammatory. Saying that the team would have to trade Methot if he's not signed to a contract is something most Sens fans would have guessed already. It is a departure from the treatment of players like Filip Kuba and Anton Volchenkov, who were kept until they turned UFA and allowed to walk. But at the same time, the Sens are not a Cup contender at the moment, and they can't risk losing an asset for nothing (unless it's Cory Conacher). Also, if you haven't listened to Murray's interview yet, do so here. It's very honest, and well worth 15 minutes of your time.
3. For some reason, I'm much more optimistic about the whole Bobby Ryan situation. Through all the jargon, it sounds like he genuinely wants to stay in Ottawa if he's given the chance to be the go-to guy. It sounds like Murray, Ryan, and Paul MacLean are all on the same page about Ryan becoming a leader among forwards in ice-time. I also expect that both Murray and Melnyk know that the best PR move for the Sens is to sign Ryan to a long-term contract. I expect he'll have an extension by the end of November.
Of course, this could all just be about saying the right things to the media, and Bobby will get traded over Christmas. But I'm staying optimistic.
4. Melnyk spoke to the media (side note: anyone know why he never speaks on Ottawa radio?) and for the most part, I found his interview kind of funny. He refused to talk about money because he always gets slammed by fans when he does. About Wayne Gretzky, he said, "People don’t realize how huge this guy was until I did my research." I don't know how a hockey owner admits he had to do research on Gretzky. Overall, it was a big change of pace from what I'm used to Melnyk interviews being, and it made me quite happy. I still don't love him or trust him, but it's a step in the right direction.
5. With training camp starting, there are several things I'm excited to see. Erik Karlsson after he had a full summer of training without rehab. Mika Zibanejad, who reportedly put on a noticeable amount of muscle over the summer. The goaltending battle. The reuniting of the top line. How the defense is going to shake down. How Frederik Claesson, Curtis Lazar, and Matt Puempel fare at training camp after impressing significantly at the rookie tournament. How much of a chance Alex Chiasson, Mike Hoffman, and Mark Stone are given.
Most of all, I'm interested to see whether MacLean starts with Zibanejad or David Legwand as his second-line centre.
Bonus thought: Who else was excited to see just how normal Murray looked during his interview? I know he's far from done fighting cancer, but it was still a huge positive.