Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Divorce Gets Messy

Daniel Alfredsson held a news conference in Ottawa Thursday that most of us thought would be a mere formality. I was sure he'd stay on the high road and say his thank yous to the city and its fans, then say a few nice words about the charities he supports. Most believed he wouldn't say anything further about contract negotiations with the Senators and why he left for Detroit.
 
That couldn't have been more wrong.

Alfredsson came out guns a-blazing and explained to us exactly his side of the story. He spoke of his community work then explained how he had helped the Sens manage the cap (an admission of circumventing the cap, by the way). Once the foundation of sympathy was laid, he outlined how badly his contract negotiations had gone, setting the table for his shift to Motown.

This was a very different Alfredsson than the one who called in from Sweden the day he signed with Detroit on July 5. That guy spoke mainly of how this was something he was doing for himself, something selfish, as he wanted to go somewhere to try and win a Stanley Cup before his career was over. There was no tone then that seemed to say, 'after all I've done for the Sens, this is how they treat me? By lowballing me in my final year? Screw this.' 

But that was the Alfie we saw Thursday. A man on an island, possibly torching his bridge to NHL employment in Ottawa. No spin doctoring this time, just giving his version of the events. 
 
Sens' GM Bryan Murray wasted little time responding, connecting with Ottawa Sun, feeling as if he'd been thrown under the bus. From Bruce Garrioch's article:

Murray confirmed Alfredsson asked the Senators for a one-year deal at $7 million or a two-year deal at $12 million. The club offered one year at $4.5 million. “I can say this: I’m disappointed,” said Murray. “It seems Alfie isn’t totally informed of what went on. That had to do with J.P. (Barry) didn’t tell me the truth during the week. He kept saying ‘I can’t get in touch with Alfie. I will get back to you with a number.'"

"I offered $4.5 million. I said, ‘Both of us hopefully are flexible and we will talk.’ (Barry) said he would get back to me. I just took for granted that would happen and it never happened. I never heard back. I have not heard from J.P. since the $7 million offer."
 
Murray says the two sides never spoke again until Alfredsson informed Murray he was signing with Detroit. 
 
This was Barry's take on the situation:

“We made multiple offers and invited them to negotiate. They provided a number (probably the $4.5M) on the weekend prior to July 5 and said this is all they can do due to internal budget restrictions. It wasn't a market offer in our estimation. They wanted Daniel to take a below market deal again after he had done the same several times previously and we didn't feel that was appropriate."

"Daniel and I spoke every day during the process at length. Essentially, the Senators wanted us to present lower offers to them and that is not how the process works.”

Lowering your offer is certainly part of how the process works. You came up with a ridiculous number ($7M) and now you present a slightly lower number. Barry may be saying here the Sens weren't making any offers to close the gap, instead just sitting back and rejecting each of Alfie's new numbers. Go lower. Mmm, nope. Lower. Lower....

At worst, someone is lying. At best, it's a failure to communicate. This divorce didn't have to happen. Murray maintains they eventually could have worked out a deal comparable to the $5.5M Alfie received in Detroit, a saw off point between the 2 offers. I fully believe that. 
 
We'll never know exactly why the deal didn't happen. But let's first point out that Barry is also Dany Heatley's agent. After the Heatley case, Barry and Murray probably don't have a great deal of time for each other. Very likely a part of this story. 

With Alfie and Murray alone in the same room together, I bet this would have been an easy negotiation. But when you get distance and cash-hungry middle men involved, things can go sideways in a hurry.

Divorce is especially sad when you know neither side really wanted it. But it's too late to reconcile now. Both have moved onto new partners – Alfie with Detroit, the Sens with Bobby Ryan. 

I think one day Alfie and the Sens will see this saga for what it was – a series of unfortunate events – and reunite in some fashion.  It'll be good for both sides.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Prior to these recent events, I was quite sure that Alfredson would have been the first/next Sens player in recent history to have his number retired.

That said, given Melnyk's actions and reactions to the City and Mayor over the Casino decision, Melnyk appears to be the type who can hold a grudge...indefinitely.

I suspect that as long as he own's the team, number 11 will not be in the rafters of the CTC.

Can't say I blame him either.