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In what should not be considered shocking news at all, Mark Stone made it clear that he was willing to stay in Ottawa after he made comments while at the World Hockey Championships yesterday. Here is what he had to say:
He left some room for interpretation, but one thing is clear: he was negotiating with the Senators until the very end, and it is ludicrous to suggest that he wanted the easy way out and didn’t want to stay in Ottawa. I have seen people call him selfish for only wanting to play for a good team, but in reality, all he wanted was fair market value on his next contract, which is exactly what he got in Vegas. It’s hard to say where Ottawa fell short in contract negotiations, as it could be term, AAV, or contract bonuses.
Some have suggested that the Senators wanted to give him a 5-year deal, and if that was the case, I don’t blame Stone for not wanting that short of a contract. Considering how much cap space Ottawa has moving forward, it would be infuriating to know that they weren’t willing to give him $9.5M because it’s not as if that would have crippled a team that has no big contracts besides Bobby Ryan. Perhaps they might have had to pay a bit more because of the different taxes in Ontario and Nevada, but I can’t imagine that leading to a huge difference in AAV. What was most likely a big hold-up were contract bonuses, which the Senators are incredibly reluctant to give out due to Eugene Melnyk’s finances.
There’s a chance that Ottawa fell short in all three of those categories in negotiations, but no matter what, they were too far apart that the Senators had to trade him.
Furthermore, Brent Wallace wasn’t afraid to voice his thoughts on the situation, and he didn’t hold back:
If I was going to trust anyone in this situation, Brent would be quite trustworthy. He’s around the team all the time and knows what is going on, plus the only people who would be leaking that Stone didn’t want to stay during a rebuild would have been people from within the organization who wanted to make the team look better. But who would it be smarter to trust: an impartial reporter or an organization who has consistently lied to its fanbase for years now?
I know who I will believe in this scenario.
After all, it’s not as if we have to guess what Stone is thinking. He literally said that he was willing to stay but that Ottawa wasn’t willing to give him the contract he was asking for. The more that things get clarified with Stone’s departure, the clearer it becomes that he was and still is the amazing player and person we always thought he was. He made comments about it not being fun in Ottawa in April, but his clarification made it clear that he wasn’t taking a shot at the organization or the city. And after talking more about the trade that sent him to Vegas, it should be clear that he should not be villainized for “wanting to leave” because he didn’t want that.
It’s a small minority who were displeased with Stone this entire time anyway, but I hope this quote lowers that number even further. The Senators have been incredibly cheap for years now, and it is the least surprising thing ever to find out that they could not match the contract demands for their best player. Any negative stories about former Senators players should not be trusted unless someone from outside the organization has confirmed it because the Senators simply cannot be trusted on stories that make them appear slightly better in situations like the Stone contract negotiations.
Despite having Melnyk as an owner, Stone was legitimately willing to stay in Ottawa because he loved playing here so much. The fact that they still
couldn’t get a deal done is probably one of the franchises’ biggest failures of all-time.