Press Gang

ARTHUR:
Sleek has pointed out that we're only getting one filtered side of the Bobby Ryan negotiations. I don't believe that's true. Most of us are probably only FOCUSING on one side of the Bobby Ryan negotiations, but Bobby went to the press himself before the numbers came out. Still, it's hard for platitudes to stand up against contract figures, and that's why Murray is currently winning the PR war.

But let me emphasize one thing. This is about term. I overheard a lot of people at the Ducks' Conditioning Camp talking about how 'greedy' Bobby was for turning down five years at 25 million, which is perfectly valid if they meant to say that he wants to hit the open market in 2014 and collect as much money as possible from whatever team will pay it-- but that's not what they meant. This is about term, and I suppose Bobby could give some of the money to charity after he signs to re-enforce that it was about term, but that never seems to work.

With Pierre LeBrun releasing the last two offer numbers (five years, 25M and 4 years, 18.4M), it's time we took a look at how this has played out in the press. BOTH sides after the jump...

On November 21, 2009, Pierre LeBrun reported for ESPN.com:

I'm told the Ducks made Bobby Ryan an offer last month but was rejected. Contract talks are now off until after the season.

As I recall, the offer above was a 'feeling out' offer, nothing significant. Ryan's agent, Mark Guy of Newport Sports Management told the OC Register that discussions went well but both sides would wait to see how the season progressed. Bobby added:

All I know is that it didn’t get near the point to where it was time to bring me in and sign on the dotted line.

After signing Jonas Hiller in January, Bob Murray offered a number of platitudes to the OC Register regarding Ryan (that he wouldn't trade him, specifically) but also reiterated his formal position, which seems to be: No rush.

...Bobby Ryan is a restricted free agent. So I basically have until next December 1 to get him signed. I don’t see it going that route. We’ll sit down...We’ve got all summer. Nothing’s going to change between now and the summer. Nothing can change.

Murph's 'no rush' mantra goes hand in hand with his 'plenty of money saved up' mantra, which he expressed in the Fan Forum Teleconference thusly:

We're in good financial shape. There won't be anywhere where a team feels like they can do what they did with Dustin Penner-- walk in here and floor us with the thing and have us make tough decisions.

Practically inviting an offer sheet and setting a very long timetable, talks didn't resume during the season. However, in April, Ryan offered some thoughts to the OC Register on where potential talks would go, saying he didn't see himself signing a five-year deal like Getzlaf and Perry and that a contract taking him to unrestricted free agency might be better. He emphasized he was interested in a long term deal, but that the CBA might get in the way:

"When we talked earlier, we touched on it," said Ryan, referring to a deal stretching many years. "Nothing really came of it and nothing really materialized either way. Bob Murray was a little more concerned about the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) next year and where that was going than doing a long-term deal.

"I’d love for a long-term deal. I think everybody knows that. But I think it’ll end up being the opposite for now."

At the end of May, Don Meehan of Newport Sports Management confirmed to the OC Register that talks had resumed, but three weeks later, Ryan told the paper he was "kind of worried" as he hadn't heard "a single peep" on negotiations. However, he also acknowledged that he understood the process, that Corey Perry's negotiation came down to the last minute, and if his went even longer then he would, of course, have to look at offer sheets. Perhaps the most eye-catching portion of the interview seemed to be Ryan's indication of an asking price:

"Not even close," Ryan said of seeking comparable or better salaries. "I completely understand that nobody makes more than Getzlaf and Perry. I have no problem with that. I never expected that. I know those are the two guys and we build from there.
"I also feel like in the past couple of years, I played in a position where I can be mentioned among them."

Ryan then reiterated his desire to stay in Anaheim and the trust he had in Newport Sports Management to make it happen. However, his suggestion of an asking price wasn't lost on Bob Murray, who acknowledged that negotiations hadn't progressed, but claimed he was surprised at Ryan's comments. The Ducks GM fired back with vague negotiation details five days later, telling the Register

He acknowledged the lack of progress but revealed that "we made him a pretty good five-year offer between $20-25 million."
"I’m not going to tell you where, but between there," Murray said. "That is not chump change."

Murph also added his now trademark catch phrases, which ring a little different on June 24th than they had in January:

I’m in no hurry to do anything whatsoever.
If somebody wants to give him an offer sheet, we have lots of space. We’ll match.

That takes us to July 1st, where Bob Murray dropped a bomb of exact figures that Ryan and his agents had turned down before noting he was "done for a while." In speaking to the Register he offered this:

"We went to five years at $5 million a year, thinking that after what I heard him say last week that it would be very close," Murray said. "We offered him a four-year deal at a lower number and they flat out turned that down as quick as you can say whatever you want to say."

Don Meehan offered only this in response:

I gave my word as part of an agreement with Bob Murray that we would not negotiate this transaction through the media and I will continue to keep my word in that respect.

That brings us up to date in a press war that Bob Murray is currently winning, and that's not really a surprise. Fans are likely to side with the guy still cashing checks that say "Ducks," and it's hard for a player to explain why he's turning down big dollar signs, even if the details of the negotiation or the collective bargaining agreement are heavily in play. From here, as LeBrun guesses, we may be waiting for an offer sheet. If both sides agreed on anything, it was that negotiations weren't going anywhere before they went to the press.

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