I'll admit I was pretty curious to see what it looks like from the other side. I imagined him racing in after a puck was moved, just a fraction of a second late; A fraction of a second small enough that we'd be mad, and their fans wouldn't be. I imagined that Steve Ott would do this to Brenden Morrow or Brad Richards or whoever it would be, and I was curious to see, as our player got up from a raucous hit, how we would all feel about it on the other side of the fence. "It's just Ott being Ott" we'd say? Or "<Insert expletive here>!!!"?
I was curious. But not that curious, and evidently neither was Joe Nieuwendyk. Now Stars fans can exhale and rejoice because the seemingly improbable Steve Ott extension appears done. Exact details are not known, but the deal is believed to be worth about $2.95 million a season [TSN]
It seemed improbable for many reasons. We enumerated most of them here, but some bear repeating: How can they afford this? We crunched the numbers and we checked them twice. The Stars still need to sign James Neal and Nick Grossman. Kari Lehtonen and Tom Wandell. A backup netminder, and numerous other pieces. They now have 13 players under contract for next season at about $36 million dollars or somewhere in the vicinity. Fans have been told for two seasons now to assume a payroll of around $45 million. A well that size is going to dry up before everyone's had their fill to drink at this rate. So what has changed?
Frankly, I don't know, and I'm not so sure if today is the day to care. However it's going to work, Steve Ott will be a Dallas Star for quite some time. It's a bill the Stars fan will be happy to foot, me thinks.
After the jump, comments from Steve Ott, and a few different way to look at this...
Otter told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News: "You have to study all of your options and you have to do what's best for yourself, but I never wanted to leave here. I've always been a part of this team and I want to end my career here. It's very important to me. I know a lot of players are that way, but it's really important for me to give everything to the team. I honestly don't know how I would have felt if I was playing for another team next week and then another next season. I know people do that, but I don't know how I would have felt.''
He's already the most popular guy in the American Airlines Center, and now, because the front office was able to push this deal through, he's able to say all the right things and endear himself to the fan base even more. If you're in the market for a new jersey, might I recommend the home-Ott? It's got a 4 year guarantee on it.
Art Middleton suggested to us earlier this morning that perhaps, and we're speculating now, they saw the value of Ott off the ice. That is to say, they made Tom Hicks see the value. Steve Ott putts butts in the seats, and that could make it as smart of a business decision as it is a hockey decision.
Is 4 years too long?
Is it a good hockey decision? There will always be doubters and contrarians to any decision that is made.
Bob Sturm told us on Defending Big D Live (and I am in NO way pretending to know his opinion on this deal. I bet he's as happy as the rest of us, but I really couldn't say...) that players who play the style of hockey Ott does tend to have a drop off at a certain point because A.) Their bodies can't take it any more, B.) Once they get paid, they play more like the "wine drinker" than the "beer guzzler" or C.) All of the above.
I don't think anyone is questioning Steve's heart and determination. They're just saying that a decline is natural. Professional sports is littered with deals that are a year too long in hindsight. That's just the cost of doing business with free agents. You want them as they are now. They want a secure future on the field/court/ice and for their families.
Whether or not Steve Ott can keep playing like a maniac for 4 seasons more at ~$3 million is something we'll all just have to find out together.
Brett Hulls' Do-Over?
"He makes us hard to play against." "He has certain intangibles we need." "He can pull your team into a game emotionally on a Tuesday night in January." "He plays on the edge."
These are the kinds of things we all heard before about a different 27 year old who was looking for his first big free agent deal two years ago. His name was Sean Avery.
Now before you groan and roll your eyes, you have to see the similarities in the signings, the motivations behind them, the players themselves and what's being said about them. They're undeniable. Said Nieuwendyk to the Morning news today: "I look at this team every day and I try to figure out where we are going and what we need, and I constantly say that I want us to be a team that's hard to play against. That's something that Steve Ott gives us every game. There are intangibles in his game that make it very hard on the other team and make it so they don't want to play us, and I just thought those were intangibles that we needed to keep here."
The difference, of course, is that Sean Avery didn't make the Stars hard to play against. He made the Stars hard to play for. Steve Ott is as loved by his teammates as he is by his fans, and that may not mean as much to some teams, but in Dallas it's important. We've seen how important it is. The shadow of that lesson lurks on this teams bottom line to the tune of $1.9375 million dollars for two seasons more.
This deal will be what they thought that deal should have been. It just takes a higher quality human being.
Let's play some hockey
"They came in with a really good offer last night, and we just felt that we needed to get this done,'' he said. ``To tell you the truth, it's like a giant weight is lifted off my back this morning. This has been really hard, and I'm just glad that it's over and I'm staying here.'' - Steve Ott to the Dallas Morning News.
It's a giant weight off his back and everyone else who cares about this team, but it's not the only weight that's been lifted, at least temporarily: Every single conversation we have about this team gets framed in the "45 million dollar, Tom Hicks has no money" house. Fans have had to run every idea and every hope through that machine first before it can be considered. That restriction feels lifted today, if only for a moment.
Let's get a right handed right winger! No Money. Let's improve the defense! No Money. Let's extend Steve Ott! .....There is money?
Whether or not it's just this one guy or just this one day, I don't know. Did something change in the budget for next year? It seems doubtful. Did Tom Hicks go rummaging around in his couch cushions or sell a few of his gold toilets? Who can know for sure?
Are there more moves coming that make this money more Hicks-palatable? ....?
Just be happy today that Steve Ott, enemy of Western Conference fans everywhere, is with us, and will be for quite a while.
Now let's play some damn hockey tomorrow. 7:30 CST against the Kings.