You May Call It Greed; I Call It Tough Love (Part (1/2)

Has Nashville Predators Captain, Shea Weber sold his navy-and-gold soul to the almighty dollar? Preds fans have been searching for weeks trying to figure out how he circumstances involving Weber’s eventual record-breaking $7.5 million contract could possibly have gotten so out of hand. (photo: Yahoo Sports/PuckDaddy)


Sloggin’

Sometimes there’s a bona fide advantage to being a Slogger, as I derisively refer to myself from time to time. What’s a Slogger? In this context it’s an amalgam of the words ‘sloth’ and ‘blogger,’ which describes me to a tee more often than not.

To wit: don’t look to this space for breaking news, kids. I don’t pretend to be the guy in the Nashville Predators blogging community providing you the latest, greatest, most up-to-the-minute developments from 501 Broadway. Instead, I tend bring up the rear of the pack. I generally like to hang back and grab a glimpse of the big picture, surveying the landscape after the smoke clears.

If you need a more journalistic approach to the Preds, check out the other Big 3 — The Big 3 Predators bloggers (at least they are in my opinion): On The Forecheck, Preds On The Glass, and Section 303 —  these guys are the microwaves; I’m just the resident crockpot (…or crackpot works too, I guess).

I often hate myself for taking so long to crap out a story; particularly at a time when things are moving fast as they are now. How I really wish I wasn’t such a perfectionist sometimes. However, in situations like today, when I remember why I actually do this in the first place, suddenly everything seems okay.

And even further, sometimes it saves me from making an ass of myself.

Glad I Waited
Yesterday was one of those self-loathing-wishing-I-wasn’t-such-a-slow-poke kind-of-days. I was ready to leap right into a reactionary story surrounding the Shea Weber arbitration award. More specifically, I was hyped to the gills to rip the Captain a new one for something I discovered via another Preds blogger (and a MOST excellent one as well), Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey).

Jim had posted a story about the Weber proceedings late Tuesday, while the arbitration award was in deliberation during its allowed 48-hour completion window. I missed seeing the story link on Twitter when he had first posted it — and thank gawd too — I doubt if I would have been able to sleep Tuesday night if I hadn’t.

Late Wednesday morning, Diamond posted the link again, sometime around midday. At this point #WeberWatch mayhem was pummeling the internets, as we not-so-patiently awaited Weber’s award ruling with up to 24 hours possibly left to go. Needing a little relief from that river of angst, I clicked over to Diamond’s Examiner.com page to catch up on Jim’s typically spot-on opinions of the goings-on.

Diamond wrote: “According to sources close to the negotiations, Weber was angered when the Predators elected to take him to arbitration. Weber believed that he was a candidate for an offer sheet, one that would ensure a big payday for the next several years. The team-elected arbitration prevented other teams from attempting to sign Weber to an offer sheet.”

I was hot.

‘Weber was angered?’ Oh Shea, bubalah, if you want angry, I can show you angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

I was as pissed as I have been toward a member of my favorite team — ever. Shea was thisclose to being dead to me. Was he actually inviting an offer sheet circumstance? Really? He who professed how much he wanted to stay in Music City, expressing anger over the Preds making the ONLY logical move they could to prevent him from leaving?

My melon was about to ‘splode, y’all.

I furiously began writing my what’s-it-all-about-captain-Shea-yer-killin-me screed, and almost had it finished when suddenly my fever broke and my head began to clear. I needed to take a step back.

First, I decided to go directly to the middle man of those inflammatory statements. Via Twitter I asked Mister Diamond about the reliability of the sources from which the information had come. He assured me that he had “complete faith in the sources.”

However, Diamond then began to hedge just a bit, following up with some added insight:

“I can understand a guy wanting to get paid (i.e.: Weber), but I do not know how much this is him and how much is the new agent. For what it is worth, I heard no such talk when he was repped by Meehan”

‘Meehan’ is Don Meehan, Weber’s longtime former agent, whom Shea had fired in mid-June in favor of Jarrett Bousquet and Kevin Epp of Titan Sports Management.

Ironically, at the time it was widely assumed that the reason Weber left Mehan because he viewed the agent’s purposes as being at odds with his own. Several observers mused that the move was a good one for the Preds because Meehan was considered likely determined to steer his client away from Nashville in favor of a big payday elsewhere. Weber’s new representation by Titan was seen as another confirmation that Shea wished to stay in Nashville.

And while we’ll never know whether Meehan’s intent was to extract as much money as possible from the Predators, the opposite scenario with Titan at the helm is now crystal clear.

Much more will likely be revealed in the coming weeks regarding the nature of Weber’s relationship with Epp and primary agent Bousquet, and how they came about landing Weber as a client, despite having no apparent experience representing big-name NHL players.

One possibility, first posited on Twitter by Dirk Hoag (@Forechecker) of On The Forecheck, was that all three are British Columbia boys, with Bousquet, albeit years earlier, having played his junior hockey in the WHL at Kamloops , as did Weber, just 100 miles southeast, in Kelowna .

Maybe We Should All Just Blame Trotzy
Regardless of whether Epp and Bousquet had been nurturing an ongoing friendship with Weber for years or won him over as a client more recently, I have to believe it was the somewhat comical event that first brought into the national spotlight the seriousness of Nashville’s intention to retain Weber that may have set their relationship into motion.

I really wouldn’t want to make so bold an assumption, nor believe for a moment that anyone could be so naive, but hey, we’re still in speculation mode so let’s throw it out there.

Back in late May, well prior to Poile’s move to protect Weber from offer sheet season to coincide with the July 1st with Free Agency period, the retirement announcement of Detroit’s Brian Rafalski sparked chatter in the blogs that the Red Wings might make the bold move of casting an offer sheet Weber’s way to replace him.

In a May 25, 2011 SportingNews.com story, as Craig Custance reported, Head Coach Barry Trotz dismissed any attempts to poach the face of the franchise while taking a rare stab at a policy statement the likes of which no one I know of has ever heard come from his mouth.

“We’ll just match it,” Trotz told The Sporting News. “I can tell you, whatever they offer, it’ll just get matched.”

When I first heard about Trotz’s proclamation, I just kinda rolled my eyes at the notion. Oh I appreciated the bravado, but honestly I wondered how an organization so steeped in the philosophy of fiscal conservancy could actually stand by such an assurance, particularly given the crazy money we saw being thrown at free agents in the early days of July.

But in my mind it didn’t matter anyway. Trotz was shooting from the hip, right? He might as well have leaned in to Custance and whispered through his teeth, “Go ahead, Make my day.”

It was a lark, a throw-away statement. Because after all, nobody was going to even get the chance at offer-sheeting Weber; Poile was gonna have him locked up well before July 1st

Right?

On the surface, it seemed like an innocent statement. It certainly raised some eyebrows in the press, not only for what was being said, but who it was that had said it. Anyone connected with the team knew a long time ago that David Poile wasn’t going to allow Shea to walk without a fight, but the head coach — not the GM making such a sweeping statement to the national hockey press?

I imagined David Poile spraying coffee all over his computer monitor.

That was May 25th. Three weeks later, Weber fires agent Don Meehan in favor of Bousquet and Titan Sports Management.

Coincidence? Idunooooo…

Could Trotz’s questionable statement have been the pebble that would later grow into a boulder of contention in the Weber contract negotiations?

Could either Weber or his agent have taken that statement to mean that the Preds had more resources from which to deal than they’d been letting on? Could that be the reason Weber was upset about Poile protecting him from offer sheet consideration — not because he wished to leave but perhaps because he believed if Nashville if would match any offer, he could get his payday without the heartburn of going through an ‘unnecessary’ negotiation and salary arbitration process?

It sounds way too simple to be possible, but I’ve been spinning scenarios in my head and through this blog for months now trying to explain how ‘the stalemate’ could have possibly happened. This makes as much sense as anything we’ve seen, doesn’t it?

Well, there’s one more possibility based on something that we already know to be true.

 

Next: Saved By the Bell

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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