OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 29: Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators and Team Alfredsson poses prior to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place on January 29, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
One of my favorite TV shows these days is Restaurant Impossible, the Food Network series in which Robert Irvine surveys failing restaurants and revitalizes them. What provides the drama on this show is the way Irvine confronts the management & staff of these flop houses with brutally honest assessments of just how awful things are, and what needs to change if a turnaround is to take place. Once the elephant in the room gets exposed and addressed, that's when the magic happens.
Tony Gallagher is one of those hockey columnists who likes to throw firebombs around the NHL. Just a few days ago he penned an absurd article on how teams that receive revenue sharing shouldn't pursue top-dollar free agents, for example. Today, he chips in with a rollicking tirade mocking David Poile for his expression of surprise in the immediate aftermath of Ryan Suter's signing with Minnesota:
How in the world could Poile have been 'surprised' when shortly after July 1, Suter left the Predators? Had he been in one of those mountain caves in Pakistan trying to stay away from drone attacks? Had he been in a comma for more than a year?
Nobody was surprised. And to be perfectly blunt, it doesn't matter what Suter or Suter's agent had been telling them. If he's not signed coming up to the deadline, you're in deep doo-doo pal! You've been a general manager in this league for 30 years and seen this happen like clockwork every season since free agency existed. What could possibly have come as a surprise?
You know what? Gallagher's right on the money here, and in the same way that Irvine berates restaurant owners, a similarly blunt assessment needs to be applied to the Preds' relationship with Shea Weber.
(Lack of) Action Speaks Louder Than Words
Since July 1, 2010, Weber has been eligible to sign a long-term contract extension with the Predators, a team which has done everything they can to demonstrate their commitment to him. They named him team captain, and have repeatedly emphasized that money is no object. They loaded up at the Trade Deadline for a playoff run this spring, and David Poile went the extra mile to facilitate Alexander Radulov's return as well.
And yet, Weber still hasn't signed a contract with the team. They went to arbitration last summer after failing to agree on the length of a new deal, or a salary (other than that, though, I'm sure things went swimmingly). Clearly, Weber is taking the slow walk to unrestricted free agency just as Ryan Suter did.
It's time to realize what's going on here. Good conversations can go on for weeks or months at a time, but serve to do nothing more than string the team and fans along with false hope, and delay the hard work of charting a path forward.
Yes, this sucks. But the time has come to trade Shea Weber.