Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Classy Mr. Murray

I do get upset with how slowly some websites update their content, and case in point is that I only became aware of this story, in today's paper, at 10pm from KK. Nevertheless, I can't say I don't appreciate getting the hometown stories from the home I left for free on the internet, minus the time my eyeballs spend looking at the ads that grant me this freedom.

The Ottawa Citizen had a story today about the bigger picture behind the Meszaros deal. While some would have enjoyed seeing a trio of Tampa picks land in the hands of the Ottawa Senators, coutesy of a massive, $5 million plus offer sheet to Meszaros, there are indeed more reasons to be glad it didn't happen than the fact that Tampa will not likely enjoy anywhere near the same seeding next season.

Indeed, the story has Murray cast once again in a shining glow for us all to behold. He wanted to trade Meszaros, rather than see him go away via offer sheet, for the good of the NHL. Why? Because $5 million is simply way too much to be paying Meszaros, especially at this stage. Yes, it's great that he's got almost 250 games of NHL experience at such a young age, as Tampa fans are probably very familiar tasting this fact in their Kool-Aid of late. It's great that he has displayed such potential. But the issue remains that he has not proven himself reliable, dependable, or mature enough to merit such a reward.

Not that it was ever said directly, but this behaviour could probably be seen as another pot shot towards Edmonton, who bid Vanek up to Spezza and Heatley money, and the pressure of which surely contributed to his modest showing this season, especially before his better games later in the season. The same goes for Penner. Ottawa does seem to have its fair share of inflated defense contracts this season, only they all come from departing defensemen. Could anyone argue that Bouwmeester, arguably the most sought-after defenseman for this season's trade dealine, is only worth $800,000 more than Meszaros, and just north of $1 million more than Commodore? Or that he is worth over $1.5 million less than Redden?

No, you couldn't argue that. But it would be fun to see you try. Murray has stuck to his guns, and while nobody is going to argue that our offseason moves ransacked the UFA market, nobody can argue that he put the team in a tough spot now or down the road. Following the classy moves in Detroit, that showed us not even the summer's top UFA could earn more than future Hall of Famer Lidstrom, Murray too backed away from talent he'd have gladly taken, for the right price. Someone's got to keep the ship from swinging too much to the crazy bidding war side, and I haven't even chuckled too much yet about that new $3.5 million defenseman they have over in Toronto.

Much as I don't think I'll ever want to return to earlier, goon-infested times in the NHL's history, I do find myself pining for the sanity that saw players get contracts based on what they had done, not what they were selling themselves before the fact as being able to do. No, it might not've made sense to pay some veterans on the wrong side of their peak the salaries they sometimes got, but I do worry what kind of a spoiled brat NHL (not to mention the help they get from the KHL) we might see if more GMs don't put down their bottles of crazy pills.

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