Friday, July 5, 2013
Senators Somehow Bungle Alfredsson Contract... Dark Day For Organization
How the Ottawa Senators managed to screw this up is a question that will be asked for a long time.
Daniel Alfredsson playing in a Detroit Red Wings jersey is (allegedly) about to become a reality and the Senators are left to face a PR fiasco that will be as long and harsh as an Ottawa winter.
Writing this before both GM Bryan Murray and Alfredsson himself have had a chance to speak to the media, I’ll take an educated guess as to why this went down the way it did.
Money and respect. That’s always what it comes down to with star players.
And I’m not talking about money that should or shouldn’t go into Alfredsson’s pocket, but money that the Ottawa Senators weren’t willing or able to invest in making this team better, which would have made Alfredsson want to stay here for his last chance to win a Stanley Cup.
And don’t be surprised if this also had a little to do with the Senators taking their first true legacy player for granted.
For years, Alfredsson has been the face of the team and played for peanuts last season on a team-friendly cap-circumventing contract. Naturally, Alfredsson would expect the team to show gratitude and respect in return.
Instead, according to Bryan Murray himself, the team never offered Alfredsson a salary number to negotiate from. They asked Alfredsson to provide the number himself. That’s a little strange but not necessarily a bad thing. Most players would love to be provided a blank cheque from a team.
But put yourself in Alfie’s place for a moment. While Ottawa waits for you to negotiate your own contract, taking a strangely passive approach (this is all surmised from Murray’s own words in his July 4th press conference and not from rumour), other teams come breaking down your door saying they need you on their team to win a Stanley Cup. That has to be impressive and tempting. But Alfie is an Ottawa guy.
Yet when you look at Ottawa’s situation, with reports of an internal cap of 50m, rumours of an owner having financial issues and a blueline that just got weaker with the departure of the much maligned but underrated Sergei Gonchar, you can see why Alfredsson has possibly grown tired of playing for a team that wants to win the Cup but just doesn’t have the resources to compete with high-spending teams.
When you watched that Stanley Cup final between Chicago and Boston, it wasn’t hard to look at Ottawa and realize a team full of prospects and a few injured stars wasn’t even close to the kind of competition on display. And with a tight budget that already cost the team a playoff veteran in Gonchar, you can see how Alfie thought his best chances to win next year lay elsewhere.
Now, you’ll come back at me with “Detroit doesn’t have a shot either”. That's debatable but when’s the last time Alfredsson truly had linemates that were on the same level as he was? Not since the days of Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. I’m guessing he’s looking forward to playing with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. No knock on Kyle Turris but he’s just not on the same level.
You could also see that Murray was perturbed in that same July 4th press conference by the fact that Alfredsson playing one more year was broken by Swedish media and not the organization. That might have been a clue that there was some kind of friction between the two parties. Murray was also combatitive about the team being perceived as "cheap". There was something rumbling there below the surface that may have been an indicator in retrospect.
There’s a lot of blame to go around but the truth is likely that the Senators didn’t make enough of an effort to make this guy happy. That's a generalization and no doubt we'll be deluged with PR from the Senators that they did all they could, but it will be hard to take seriously.
When a guy who has bled for you for 17 years is suddenly pissed off, there should be no surprise that this thing went south.
The fact is that Alfredsson doesn’t want to play for the Ottawa Senators anymore. There should be a lot of searching for answers as to how this suddenly came about from a guy who was the de-facto Mayor of this town.