Defenseman Justin Schultz signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, four years after the Anaheim Ducks drafted him No. 43 overall. They lost his rights this summer when he left the University of Wisconsin, using the CBA to become an unrestricted free agent. Needless to say, Ducks GM Bob Murray feels a bit sore about the whole thing.
Said Murray on a conference call, via the Ducks:
"We received no phone call from Justin Schultz. I'm more confused more than ever. I read everything of course. I've moved on. I'm confused because, if he had it in his mind that he wanted to play in Canada, then okay. I get that. I'm a Canadian too. But Eric Lindros when he didn't want to play in Quebec, he went to his team that drafted him and said 'No, I'm not going to play there.' He allowed that team to make a move to get something for him. He told us numerous times he wanted to play with us. He needed to just tell us the truth."
While we agree in principle with Murray — he said Schultz hadn't called him yet, even after signing with Edmonton — this is an interesting bit of revisionist history.
Lindros and his camp made it well known before the 1991 draft that he wouldn't play for the Nords. They drafted him anyway, threw money at him, and then were eventually forced to trade him because — once more, with feeling — he wouldn't play for them.
They drafted a player they knew they may have to move; a player that refused to put on their sweater at the draft.
But the crux of Murray's argument is correct: At the very least, Quebec knew it would have to move Lindros because his cards were on the table. Schultz's weren't, and according to Murray he even led the team on for years.
Sure, this could be sour grapes from Murray; but it's just more ammo for those who see Schultz and his reps acting with unearned hubris — despite their simply following what the CBA laid out for them.
About the CBA "loophole," Murray said:
"This is unfair, not only for the organization, but it's unfair for the Anaheim Duck fans. It's unfair to other fans, the Phoenix Coyotes with Blake Wheeler. We're all aware of other players coming along that are in this situation. It's just wrong. I sure hope the NHL realizes they dropped the ball big time."
If nothing else, change the UFA status to RFA status so teams like the Ducks get something out of this alleged duplicity.