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Another Take on the Ryan O'Reilly Contract Situation

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Doug Pensinger

I know what you're thinking. Cheryl already dropped a wonderful Ryan O'Reilly Related Rant and, of course, we've covered the ongoing situation, well, more than a few times. Seriously, we've written about it a lot. So, do you really need to know how DD"Sees" It? Perhaps not. But my take is a bit different than what I perceive to be the popular opinion around here, so consider this the minority response to Cheryl's State of the Union address.

Honestly, when it comes to the O'Reilly contract clusterkerfuffel, I have to admit that I am fairly Wang Chung about the whole thing. To be honest, folks, I'm not really mad at either side.

Now, let's be clear. I am not very happy with the Avs' management right now, and by management I'm really talking about the guy holding a sphincter-tight grasp on the purse strings. But that, believe it or not, is a different story in my book. Regardless of the stupid parameters placed on him by, um, "frugal" ownership, Greg Sherman still needs to make sure he is not overpaying for the services of Ryan O'Reilly just to get him to sign. It is his job to not overpay and when we think he's failed at it (David Jones, anyone?) we give him holy hell for it. Sherman and staff have a responsibility to determine Ryan O'Reilly's financial value and sign him for something close to that. Yes, they have a shitload of cap room today and down the road and they could conceivably offer him the moon. But Sherman wouldn't be doing his team - or his fanbase - any favors by doing so.

It's O'Reilly's fault then, right? Well, no. See, I firmly support O'Reilly's right to hold out for a contract that he feels is fair compensation for his services. Think of it this way - up until now, O'Reilly has had no say at all in how much he gets paid to play in the NHL. He didn't create the financial system, he just works under it. No one cried for him last year when he was one of the best players on the team...and one of the lowest paid. And, in my book, no one should criticize him for trying to get what he feels is a fair salary. You and I may disagree with him on what a fair salary would be, but he's certainly entitled to his own opinion there.

As this all drags on, and the Avalanche drop in the standings, it becomes natural to want to focus on a missing O'Reilly as a source of ire. But, O'Reilly is just one player. A good one, for sure, but his absence is not the reason the Avs will miss the playoffs this year (bank on that), nor would his presence tomorrow suddenly return the wheels to the bus.

It is possible - maybe even likely at this point - that the sides won't be able to come up with an equitable deal. Hey, it happens. Hockey is a business just like the other big sports, and if you need a reminder just go back and watch a few NHL games from October through December. And if the sides can't come to an agreement, then Radar may be traded. I hope this doesn't happen...although, truthfully, I feel that trading a center for some help in other areas might not be such a bad thing in the long run (short run too).

More and more, I feel this story is not going to have a happy ending, and that's too darn bad. If that happens, while lamentable, it shouldn't be taken personally. It's business, unfortunately. No matter what, when this is over I'll still be a fan of both the Avalanche and Ryan O'Reilly. It would be great if those two continued to be mutually inclusive, though. Don't you agree?