Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk offered a "blank check". Daniel Alfredsson wanted $7 million for one season or $12 million over two, according to general manager Bryan Murray. Somewhere, there was a disconnect during the negotiations that ended with the 40-year old signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings after 17 seasons with the Senators.
On Thursday, Alfredsson spoke publicly for the first time since leaving Ottawa. He revealed that during talks on his previous contract, a four-year deal signed in 2009, he and the Senators agreed that the final year ($1 million in salary) was added to help the team cap-wise as it was understood he would retire. Hello, cap circumvention! (Chris Johnston of Sportsnet has more after speaking with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.)
When the time came to negotiate this time around, Alfredsson said he reminded the Senators about an understanding the two side came to last summer about discussing an extension for this coming year. The extra year on the extension would make up for the $1 million salary he agreed to take this past season. Talks went nowhere and then other teams came calling, like the Red Wings.
Murray listened to the press conference and told the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch he doesn't recall any sort of agreement about an extension.
“Two years ago we promised to extend his contract? When we did the contract originally I don’t know any reason why I have to tell anything other than the truth. I’m 70-years-old you think I care what happens?,” said Murray.
“He said we asked for another year to make it cap friendly? He asked for a four year deal with up front money. It so happened there was the fourth year at $1 million. Both of us talked and he certainly didn’t anticipate playing and J.P. didn’t anticipate him playing so I said, ‘That’s fine.’
“He played. 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.
Over the weekend, Melnyk told the Ottawa Citizen that signing Alfredsson to either of his two contract demands would not have allowed them to acquire Bobby Ryan.
"I understood it's hard for them to agree to my terms, but I have my reasons," said Alfredsson. "I respect [Murray] a ton and that hasn't changed one bit."
Despite saying on a July 5 conference call with reporters that he felt the Red Wings had a better chance to win the Stanley Cup, which angered some in Ottawa, the blame game has now shifted from the captain to the organization for allowing Alfredsson go.
So if you thought the divorce between Alfredsson and the Senators might subside today, think again. The fan base might warm back up to the captain over time (if they haven't already), but whatever miscommunication occurred between Alfredsson's camp and Murray/Melnyk will likely fuel a few more bitter quotes in the near-future.
Expect all this to be rehashed when the Red Wings visit Ottawa on Dec. 1. It appears from the side of the Senators, we haven't heard the last of this.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy