In breaking down the Bobby Ryan contract negotiations, I've been particularly resistant to repeating the assertion that Ryan's side has lobbied for a three-year deal. First, because the first appearance of the news came from Bob McKenzie's Twitter, second because Bobby was on record talking about a deal taking him to UFA status and third because the Ducks had formally released their numbers and to juxtapose "three-years" to "five-years" would imply that the former was Bobby's official position as the latter was clearly Anaheim's official position.
However, with Murray stating he plans to go "in a different way" on Ryan negotiations in the next couple of days, Eric Stephens stated rather plainly that Ryan is an RFA looking for no more than three years. No new quotes were offered, but I suppose this could be an off the record thing that has become common knowledge. How does a three-year deal achieve Bobby's wishes for UFA? Stephens explains thusly:
It is believed that Ryan’s camp is of the opinion that the winger can earn more than that $5 million if he were to be free and arbitration eligible in the summer of 2013.
So that's the game according to Stephens. Not just to get to UFA on schedule, but to go to arbitration in the last year guaranteed a payday, even if it comes from a begrudging Ducks team or results in a sign and trade. Perhaps the best scenario being that the Ducks are forced to walk away and leave Ryan a UFA one year ahead of schedule.
Ironically, I've seen a juxtaposition of Kariya and Ryan on a few comment boards, probably tied to what would happen to the number 9 if they find themselves teammates. Plenty of fans point to Kariya taking less money in Colorado as evidence of his evil, and it's not clear to me how many of them are aware that Kariya taking less than the league average was about achieving UFA status before the age of 31, a CBA loophole not all that different from the one Ryan is allegedly playing here. If Kariya is the devil for that, where do they rank Bobby for not even wanting to wait until he's 27 to leave Southern California?
Again, though, this position hasn't been formally attributed to Ryan. He hasn't publicly lobbied for it, despite playing a game of full court press early in negotiations. But it's worth noting that three years is a good business decision for Ryan, the nice, outgoing fan-favorite that the Orange County faithful have recently deified, just as taking one year below the league average was a good business decision for the introverted and tunnel-visioned Kariya, whom the Orange County faithful have since vilified. And, to me, that says that the siren's song of Unrestricted Free Agency does not test the moral mettle of hockey players as much as it exposes the weaknesses of teams that need the salary cap to maintain a competitive payscale.
Though, I suppose, heroes and villains are much more convenient.