Well, looks like we're headed for another lengthy free agent saga boys and girls. About an hour ago, Zach Parise got in front of the media and said he would be heading home to discuss more things with his family and also indicated that while his choice of where to play would come in the near future, there would be no timetable. Wonderful. While as a human being I sympathize with his desire to take time making a major life decision, as a Devil fan sitting on pins and needles checking the internet every second possible I'm going nuts. Agent Wade Arnott said that, "We have thoroughly deliberated every option with Zach. He wishes to take some time to step back and review all with his fiance and his family. We could be drawing closer to a decision."
After reading message boards, Twitter and Zach's own quotes which included a public assertion that 'in speaking with Lou he said that it (the financial situation) wouldn't be a problem', I give up even trying to guess what's the reason this is being delayed or where Zach's heart is leaning. Our supposedly precarious financial situation was long assumed to be the biggest obstacle towards Zach signing a long-term deal here, but if Zach's denying that's an issue and that he honestly wants to sign long-term here I really don't see what the problem is. Our playoff run this year should have proved that winning is no issue either.
What seems suspicious to a degree is that all signs pointed toward a decision today with the Penguins and Wild among the lead teams to snag the captain away from us, but now a new contender emerged today in the Hawks, supposedly making a serious offer. The interesting part about the Hawk rumors is they were also in on Martin Brodeur yesterday, but after Brodeur re-signed with us this morning a few hours later Hawk rumors about Parise started popping up all over the place. Coincidence? Maybe not considering they only have $8 million of cap space (and probably thought they had more of a need in goal and a better chance to get Marty with fewer teams in the mix) and perhaps the Hawks stepping up their pursuit has complicated matters further in a way it wasn't last night.
It's impossible to forecast where this is going to go, mainly because we don't have every offer in front of us and I'm sure all differ in terms of total length, years and upfront money. Not to mention the teams' appeal differs as well. If our offer is truly 'competitive' as beat guy Tom Gulutti was told it was, then you have to think money's not really an issue although it is a bit disconcerting to think our offer is competitive considering some of the outrageous Monopoly money offers I've heard rumored. Minnesota and Philly are both rumored for 10+ years and over 100 million, the Penguins are rumored to be as high as 90 million and all told some twenty teams have made offers for the Devils captain. A staggering number considering just two made offers for Ilya Kovalchuk two years ago. Amazing what $10 million more of cap space and being a spotless ambassador as the face of USA Hockey can do for you.
If you take money not being an issue at face value, then certainly having a million contenders plus your hometown team each waving its credentials in your face have to be eye-opening. If going to Pittsburgh to play with Sidney Crosby and company would be a slap in the face to Devil fans, going to Chicago and a simlarly talented young core wouldn't be nearly as much of one. While Zach's home team in Minnesota has vowed to make the highest offer, they also offer the least attractive roster among all of the teams still rumored to be in it. Although we haven't heard much about Detroit or Philly today they certainly remain looming on the outskirts of the mix, especially since both are also in on FA defenseman Ryan Suter, and he hasn't decided his final destination either. And there's always the danger of the dreaded 'mystery team' (just ask New York Jet fans about that with Nmandi Asomugha...sometimes that mystery team actually exists).
Perhaps the only good thing about Parise deferring his decision to tomorrow before he talks with his fiance again is that I'll finally get some rest. After the liveblog today and constantly checking for Parise updates on my phone today, I'm just exhausted of the whole ordeal. Especially with the Brodeur mini-drama that almost lasted a day, before he finally extracted a second year from the Devils (ostensibly his motivation for becoming a FA). At least the team finally got good news today with Brodeur and Johan Hedberg each committing to man the Devil net for the next two years - Hedberg signing for $1.4 million per with a NMC. And possible secondary scoring options in FA like the Caps' Alex Semin and the Flyers' Jaromir Jagr haven't gone off the board yet, both likely waiting for Parise too.
Yes, this is nothing like the Kovalchuk saga yet - which went on for nineteen days before the contract melodrama - but in some ways it feels worse since I wasn't checking Twitter, didnt have a high-speed computer or an Android phone to constantly check hockey news then. Not to mention all the rumors about where Kovy would sign seem to be compressed into a couple of days of the Parise negotiations considering how many more teams are in on Zach, and how many different rumors that creates. And finally, losing Zach (a captain and lifelong Devil) would be much more of a blow than losing Kovy, who was expected to walk anyway.
Guess we'll see where this odeyssey leads tomorow.