Can we trust Bryan Murray?
The Daniel Alfredsson affair last offseason turned into some sort of hockey Rashomon, with both sides spinning their breakup over financial terms and indignation. What was offered and when? Who forced out whom? Both sides had their stories.
Now, again, it seems a star Ottawa Senators player has a different set of facts from his general manager.
Murray said during the Stanley Cup Final that Spezza “requested we give him a chance to go elsewhere.” Part of that desire was born from Spezza's alleged issue with criticism he received as a star player and captain from the local media.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, speaking with some close to Spezza, paints a different picture:
In his exit interview with Murray, Spezza laid his cards on the table. He told Murray that if the Senators were intent on a quick rebuild and were in the acquisition mode in terms of bringing in top-end talent, he wanted to be a part of it. But if the plan was to tear down the roster and rebuild the team with young players and draft picks, it might be best for the organization to maximize his value now and that he would not stand in the way of a deal involving him, provided it was not to one of the 10 teams in his modified no-trade clause.
But at no time did he make any demands, according to those close to Spezza. He loves Ottawa and would have been happy to stay. He likes Murray and has had a good relationship with him and the feelings are mutual. Murray would probably prefer not to deal Spezza, but sees that the player will be an unrestricted free agent in a year and knows the best thing for the organization would be to get return for him now rather than as a rental at the trade deadline if the Senators are out of the playoff picture.
Two things stand out from this retelling of the tale:
1. If the departure of Spezza was tied to the Senators entering “tear it down, build it cheap” mode and he’s going … well, what do we glean from that?
2. Again, it’s “he said, he said.” Did Spezza make a demand, not make a demand, agree that a trade would benefit everyone? Because the way it’s spun here put him in that classic “star player doesn’t want to alienate fans” mode of claiming none of this was his idea or his doing.
Which Spezza probably doesn’t need to do anyway, because the approval rating for the Senators’ management is slightly lower than that of Congress.
What do you believe?