July 24, 2012
Predators match Weber offer sheet
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
There will be no Philadelphia freedom for Shea Weber.
The Nashville Predators decided not to allow the all-star defenceman to pack his bags for the City of Brotherly Love Tuesday by matching a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet he received last week from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Weber, who will be 27 next month, received a hefty $13-million signing bonus Tuesday. The Predators captain will pocket $27 million in less than a year in salary and bonuses for the next 12 months under the agreement.
Predators GM David Poile won’t be available for comment until a press conference Wednesday in Nashville, but admitted the club had to do some soul-searching before deciding to match in a statement on the team’s website.
“The decision boiled down to three questions,” the club said in the statement.
No. 1: “Was Shea Weber the individual that this franchise wanted to lead our team, a team that would compete for the Stanley Cup every year, for the next 14 years?”
No. 2: “Would matching the offer sheet be in the best long-term interest of the team and organization?”
No. 3: “Would a decision not to match the offer sheet send a negative message to current Predators players and other NHL organizations, a message that the Predators would only go so far to protect its best players and be pushed around by teams with deep pockets?
The Predators said this was the right decision.
“The answer to each of the above questions is clearly yes. The organization spent the last several days analyzing all aspects of the offer sheet, from economic implications to the impact on the team hockey operations puts on the ice,” added the statement.
“Most importantly was the reaction to whatever decision the organization reached and the impact it would have on our fans, sponsors and marketing partners. We wanted to ensure that our decision reflected not just the feelings of these groups, but also conveys a strong message to them that our actions would speak for us and demonstrate our commitment to them.”
But the question the Predators should have asked themselves is are they getting a player who is going to be fully committed to the program and wants to be part of the solution in trying to bring a Cup to Nashville?
He didn’t just sign with the Flyers because of the massive offer they put on the table, Weber also elected Philadelphia because he wants a chance to win a Cup. He wasn’t sure he was going to get that opportunity in Nashville.
Sources say Weber, who would have been a UFA next summer and allowed to shop himself around, wasn’t happy when Ryan Suter decided to walk away July 1 to accept a 13-year, $98-million deal with the Minnesota Wild.
Even if Weber doesn’t want to be in Nashville, he has no choice but to play there next season. He can’t be dealt for the first year of the contract and the Preds made no attempts to work out a trade with the Flyers.
Philly GM Paul Holmgren said in a statement the Flyers wanted to add a quality player to the blueline. The Flyers will have to turn their attention to Plan ‘C’ to replace the injured Chris Pronger because the club failed in an attempt to get Suter.
“In tendering an offer sheet to Shea Weber, we were trying to add a top defenceman entering the prime of his career,” Holmgren said. “With Nashville matching our offer, we wish Shea and the Predators all the best.”
The Predators had to match the offer sheet, but they’d better hope they’re not throwing good money after bad.