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Is Adam Foote An Asshole?

Well, you knew that Columbus would be pretty bitter about losing the Blue Jackets' captain and best defenseman, especially considering the fact that they lost him due to failed contract negotiations---or "money" in layman's terms.  Any time a player takes off due to money issues, the fans get bitter.

Colorado fans got bitter a few years ago when Foote left Denver for Ohio.  And by all accounts, Foote was sorry about it, too, telling various interviewers over the years that he loved playing for the Avalanche and wished he was still lacing up his skates for home games in the Pepsi Center.  

Now it's Columbus' turn to feel jilted, and jilted they are.

As Greg at the Fanhouse reports, the Columbus Dispatch is accusing Adam Foote of demanding far too much money ($8 million over two years) and when the Jackets' balked, he allegedly threatened them with purposely bad play and behavior in the locker room:

According to numerous NHL sources, Foote threatened to be "a bad teammate, a bad captain and a bad player" the rest of the season if he weren't re-signed or traded to his preferred destination -- the Colorado Avalanche, where his best NHL years were spent.

If true, that makes Adam Foote kind of a jerk.  But one thing stands out as suspicious to me.  For one, how many "NHL sources" would have been privy to those contract talks?  How many people would have been in the room or on the phone?  Foote, his agent, the Columbus GM and a lawyer or two.  Anyone not a first-hand witness of those talks would have heard anything about them through hearsay, I assume.  So the "numerous NHL sources" seems a little fishy.

But, let's say all of this is true.  What if Foote really did, while negotiating a new contract and requesting more money than offered by his team, make a threat or two?  Does this never happen?  I've heard horror stories about things said during arbitration hearings (though Foote wasn't in arbitration) where a player and a team will say horrible things about each other in the heat of the moment to receive more or pay less money, respectively.  And then, once a settlement is reached, bygones are bygones and both get along just fine.  

All that said, this seems to me like a team bitter over losing their most prized asset (other than Rick Nash) and just lashing out.  Even if this is all true, Adam Foote doesn't get paid to be a nice person, he gets paid to play hockey well, which he does.  If his teammates get along with him---and they do, at least in Colorado---and he contributes to the success of the franchise, who cares?  

I guess it's easy for me to say that with Foote on my favorite team instead of somebody else's, but I wasn't mad at him for leaving Colorado the first time and I wouldn't hate him for leaving again.  That's business, and you can't blame a guy for looking out for himself.

And, finally, on a side note, I think it's funny that Greg criticized Mats Sundin for sticking with the Toronto Maple Leafs and now seems mad "if" it turns out Adam Foote bailed on the Blue Jackets and said a few nasty things.  I'm thinking you can't have it both ways.

UPDATE: Bob McKenzie calls bullshit on the Columbus Dispatch.  Hat tip to thedoctor, as always.

ADDENDUM: Greg linked to an Avalanche blog I'd never heard of before: the Avslova Factor.  Check it out.