One of the biggest shocks of the past offseason’s free agency was watching longtime Ottawa Senators winger and captain Daniel Alfredsson walk away from the team. Alfredsson chose to sign a one year, $5.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings after talks broke down between the Senators and Alfredsson’s camp. Oddly enough, both sides have different ideas of how the situation really played out.
Alfredsson spoke about his free agency at the Royal Mental Health Hospital in Ottawa, which he will remain involved with despite leaving the Senators. According to Eye on Hockey’s Chris Peters, Alfredsson had finished a two year deal at a reduced salary, after which the team verbally agreed to give Alfredsson a raise.
In that last contract with the Senators, Alfredsson’s deal was front-loaded, with the former captain earning $7 million for the first two seasons and just $1 million in the final year, to make it a more cap-friendly hit of $4.875 million a year. This could also be construed as circumventing the salary cap, essentially, a practice the NHL has since cracked down on.
The Swedish forward also suggested that there was a verbal agreement in place that he would be extended after playing that last year at a discounted rate.
Alfredsson said he attempted to negotiate an extension with the team throughout the season as well.
Unfortunately, Alfredsson believed that the Senators were not offering him proper compensation, and he left for Detroit. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk regretted that it happened this way with Alfredsson. According to Melnyk, the team wanted to acquire new Senator Bobby Ryan badly, and Alfredsson was not going to be able to get the money he was promised if he wanted to stay with the team.
“To come up with the kind of money they were talking about and being fiscally responsible and ensuring the ongoing success of the organization, we knew we needed to add a Bobby Ryan-type player,” Melnyk explained. “And at the end, when I said blank cheque, that would have meant we would not have gotten the (Bobby Ryan-type player). Couldn’t afford it. Just couldn’t do it.”
Apparently, general manager Bryan Murray was not in the same train of thought, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. He placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of powerful player agent J.P. Barry, who was representing Alfredsson.
“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.’
“He never got back to me. I never heard back from him after the phone call on Tuesday (before free agency). Alfie called me himself on Thursday night to tell me that he was leaving. I said to J.P. during the earlier conversations I can’t pay you $7 million. That’s what they asked for for the year.
“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 J.P. since the $7 milliion (demand in New York) Saturday meeting we had. It was $12 million for two years and $7 million for one. That’s disappointing.”
Murray also suggested that Barry was looking to get Alfredsson around $8 million from the Senators in 2013-14 to make up for last season’s dip in salary.
“When we talked in Las Vegas (last summer) it was about adding a year and $8 million in the second year to make it up to make it a $4.5 million year for two years. I talked to Eugene and we said we couldn’t do that.”
Trying to decipher what’s real and what’s fake out of the comments from all parties involved would be a lost cause. Still, suffice to say that the situation was a bit more complicated than it first appeared. It will be quite unusual, but for the first time in his 18-year career, Daniel Alfredsson will not be donning the Ottawa Senators’ jerseys.
Follow us on Twitter – @ATRSportsKings
Around the Rink Columnist Joe Ray – @joeray119
Find Joe on Google+