As PredsNation Turns

Which will it be? Nashville Predators fans are hopeful it will indeed be all thumbs up and Captain Shea Weber re-signs with the team sometime today, avoiding a potentially messy NHL Salary Arbitration hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, August 2nd.

As the clock ticks down on the Nashville Predators’ Shea Weber will-he-sign-or-go-to-arbitration merry-go-round, uncertainty abounds. But here’s what we know for sure:

1.) Life is precious.

2.) More than likely, the sun is gonna rise tomorrow.

3.) No matter what, Shea Weber will be a Nashville Predator for at least one more season.

There’s more stuff I could list, but none of it matters today, right? ‘Cuz today is Armageddon-the-sky-is-falling-life-sucks-and-then-you-die-why-o-gawd-why Day.

Or at least that’s what one might think if you listen to some Nashville Predators fans kvetching over the Shea Weber re-signing circumstance.

It’s a subject about which I’ve already written, so I won’t belabour the point (yes, Amanda, that was for you) by going over all of the scenarios as to why it might be that this deal has come down to the eleventh hour and has yet to be hammered out before the treacherous uncertainty of the emotions and hurt feelings that lie ahead in Weber’s scheduled arbitration hearing 24 hours from now to award the Nashville’s Captain and top player a salary figure for the 2011-12 season.

According to arbitration rules, should the player’s side win the decision over the team, he may accept the arbiter’s award in the form of either a one or two-year contract.

One Year Webs?
Sunday evening, on Twitter, Weber’s camp leaked his intention in advance to accept the one year award if the hearing does come to fruition and they win the arbiter’s award.

The Predators’ GM David Poile is, of course, hoping to negotiate a longer term for his all-world blueliner. However, for reasons that have been well-dissected and meted out in various Twitter discussions and Preds’ blogger postings over the past several days, a one-year deal might be the best indication yet that Shea in fact does indeed wish to remain in Music City.

Choosing a one-year deal over two says in no uncertain terms that Weber wishes to keep talking, as he would still be a restricted free agent at the end of the contract’s term this season. Weber won’t turn 27 — the current magical age for UFA freedom in the NHL — until August of 2013.

A one year deal also affords the Predators the opportunity to negotiate in-season to extend Weber, as opposed to being forced to wait after July 1st next summer, which would be the stipulation on a two-year contract being in place. Additionally, at the end of a two-year deal, Weber would at that point be a UFA and could leave Nashville without compensation for the Preds.

On the other hand, on a one year contract equals the retention of Weber’s RFA status, so even if another team were to float an offer sheet that Nashville chose not to match, the Preds would be handsomely compensated for losing him.

It would almost seem as though Weber is doing his best to make the unlikely event of his departure as least costly for the team as possible.

So the obvious question with which so many in PredsNation are trying to grapple is, why doesn’t he just commit to the team and city he supposedly loves as repeatedly stated? Why is he putting the fanbase through the wringer like this?

I still believe it’s all about Sutes
Again, I go back to my original point made last Thursday; I said then that I believe it all comes down to Ryan Suter  and now I’m more convinced than ever.

A lot of people have suggested that Weber is now somehow retreating from the ‘bullish on Nashville’ tune he has sung for the last several months. Some believe that his reticence in signing a new deal is based on being unconvinced that David Poile will not or cannot take the steps necessary to address the team’s scoring woes in order to make it a more complete threat in the Stanley Cup race on a year-in-year-out basis. No matter how logical it might seem, I find that argument unlikely and totally inconsistent with Weber’s position based on his personality and previous statements.

We know what Weber has said about wishing to remain a Predator. What we don’t have is the same evidence in the statements of Ryan Suter. Not that Suter’s ever said anything negative — he just hasn’t said anything at all of note regarding his desire to stay. It’s pretty much always been implied, just never truly reinforced in the press.

Shea Weber doesn’t strike me as a dumb guy. He doesn’t strike me as a prima donna, either. I believe he knows full well how important Ryan Suter is to his own success and how terrific they are as a defensive pair. He no doubt wants his friend and brother-in-arms to be beside him going forward, however, I cannot believe that Suter’s own impending contract renewal circumstance have not in some way entered into the Weber discussion, and well may be at least a factor in this current impasse.

Perhaps it’s Suter who has his doubts about the Preds’ ability to truly compete? Perhaps it is, as I mentioned previously, a respect factor; the desire by Suter to be paid equally with his fellow defenseman, someone with whom many believe he is on equal par value-wise?

I believe it is extremely likely that the discussions on term length in this contract for Weber have everything to do with not wanting to exclude or hamper the likelihood of inking Ryan Suter to one of similar length, just as they have together enjoyed since coming into the league six years ago.

To suggest that Shea Weber has suddenly grown feet of clay by the retreat of his commitment to the Predators is quite frankly an untenable position in my opinion. Shea is the real deal, through and through. And If he is not, then who the hell is?

I suspect that someone in Suter’s camp wants something that David Poile either cannot or will not give them, and that, I believe is the hitch in this get-along.

Again, as I said before, I’m not trying to make Suter out to be the villain; I’m only saying it would be completely inconsistent with everything we know about Shea Weber to assume that all we’ve seen in the process to this point has been completely generated by either his representatives or by Poile and the Preds.

The sad part is, whatever the nature of the problem, at this point it’s unlikely it will be settled prior to tomorrow’s hearing, although I do believe a non-arbitrated one-year contract is still more likely to be struck today than going through the unnecessary heartburn of the procedure for essentially the same end result.

As this extremely hard and long day plays out for Predators fans, it’ll be interesting to keep all this in mind as negotiations for Suter and Pekka Rinne begin later this season, percolating more feverishly the closer we get to next July 1st.


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3 Responses to “As PredsNation Turns”

  1. Chris Bradford August 2, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    You and this ‘the Preds can do no wrong’ crowd just don’t get it. You can spin this any way you want. The fact is that if this thing goes to arbitration the captain, the true superstar of the Predators, did NOT want to sign any contract offer Poile made. So spare me and many others these claims that ‘one year arbitration’ is a good thing. If it ends up like that, it is a dark day in Preds history and all of the momentum from last season is gone.

    • AJ in Nashville August 2, 2011 at 7:00 am #

      Chris, you’re certainly welcome to your opinion, just as I am to mine. At this point, none of us can do anything but speculate as to what the true reasons and motivations were/are involved in Shea’s decision-making process. How ’bout we just take a deep breath and wait until the dust settles. There is neither room nor reason for anyone to overreact and make anything other than an educated guess; that’s what mine was and I hate to tellya, but that’s what yours is too. Thanks for your comment.


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