By Jim Diamond
David Poile July 4, 2012:
“It would be an understatement to say that the Nashville Predators are disappointed at this time. Actually, not only disappointed, but very surprised.”
David Poile March 28, 2016:
“Very disappointing news obviously for the Nashville Predators, our fans, and our team.”
He later added: “This is a shock.”
Eerily similar, right?
The situation in 2012 was after Ryan Suter signed a deal with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent. That day, Poile felt as though he was deceived by the star defenseman who he had assumed would re-sign with the team that drafted him with their first pick in 2003.
While the Predators were on the ice playing the Colorado Avalanche Monday night, word dropped that Jimmy Vesey, Nashville’s 3rd round pick in 2012, had told the organization that he would not be signing with the Predators and exercising his right to become a free agent on August 15th.
Uncle Bob had it first:
McKenzie’s tweet was sent during the first period of Monday night’s game.
The writing appeared to be on the wall Saturday night when, just minutes before faceoff of that night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team put out the curious statement (at a curious time to boot) that they would be speaking with the Harvard senior “at some point over the next several days.”
This statement was a drastic departure from the tone team General Manager David Poile took at the trade deadline, telling the team’s website:
“We’ve kept a spot open for him, and we’ve talked about when his season ends to bring him right onto our team put him right into our lineup,” Poile said of Vesey at the time. “When you make a promise like that, you have to keep that promise. I didn’t want to trade away his spot. Acquiring a forward, a top-two line forward, for example, I think that would’ve probably not been fair to Jimmy Vesey, and I really feel with his potential, what he can do, that he was probably as good as any player I could’ve acquired at the trading deadline.
“Whenever Harvard’s season is over, we look forward to signing Jimmy and bringing him on our team, and I think that’s going to be a great boost for our team at the perfect time of the season.”
Poile had to be feeling pretty confident in making the statements about Vesey just a few short weeks ago. College players with eligibility are not allowed to have agents but can have family advisors, basically ersatz agents.
Addressing the media during the second intermission Monday night, Poile revealed that Vesey’s representatives gave the Predators an indication Wednesday night that for the first time, they were thinking about free agency despite the offer of a roster spot right away and the fact that he would play on one of the team’s top lines as well.
Then Poile spewed some hot fire in the direction of those representatives.
“This is the first time I am going to say this in my career as a general manager. I clearly believe that Jimmy has received bad advice and bad counsel.”
By signing with the Predators, Vesey would be able to tick off one year of his entry-level contract, getting a year closer to free agency. The money would be the same in Nashville as it would in any other city. Poile mentioned Monday that Suter had a financial benefit to leave Nashville, but in 2012, he said that the Predators made an identical offer to Suter.
Poile also referenced that as late as Thursday that Vesey’s dad Jim, a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs, had thought that signing with the Predators was the best course of action for his son.
Further, Poile said that the team was continually rebuffed in their attempt to bring all parties (Vesey, his family, and his agents) together to discuss signing Vesey.
In addition to hiring the senior Vesey as a scout, the Maple Leafs drafted Vesey’s brother Nolan in 2014. Poile said that in all conversations with Jim Vesey that he was speaking to the dad and not the employee of another NHL team.
It will be interesting to see where Vesey lands August 15th. Poile did state that he would continue to pursue signing him up until that date.
Not happening folks. He’s gone, leaving a general manager bewildered once again at a player not wanting to play for his team.