Steve Ott's unexpected extension brought a mixed bag of reaction to the internet yesterday, but mostly joy, much of which belonged to the man himself:
"I’m the happiest guy in the world right now," Ott said following Monday's practice in Frisco. "I get to stay in a town I love. The town and the fans have been phenomenal to me. I can go down the list. My daughter was born here. I hope to continue after the four years as well. I am looking forward to the challenge."
-Steve Ott [Andrew's Stars Page]
To the victors go the spoils, and this was a win for the Stars and the Ott camp in my book. Steve Ott comes out smelling like roses, saying all the right things. How much did he settle? Did he give any kind of home town discount? Surely he could have gotten more in July, right? We'll never know. For now, he gets to say all those nice things, Joe Nieuwendyk gets to keep the very literal "fan favorite," and everybody's smiling. For a team who's every answer (or side stepping of questions) is "that's not in the budget," this was something nice to show for the fans and players alike. This feels like a win. Everybody loves Steve Ott. (Well, in Dallas)
There were those of you, however, who questioned the dollars. Everyone wants to keep Ott, but at what cost? He's very hard to define right now, and will not be seen as a prototypical "top-six" guy heading forward. So can a team with such a limited budget afford to pay a guy who neither stops goals nor scores them nearly $3 million a season? That's a very valid concern that I have a feeling won't get much resolution until the summer.
NHL Network (NHL on the Fly) praised the deal last night, citing Ott's many intangible contributions, his impact on his line-mates, and his versatility. They pointed out that a great number of teams would have been chomping at the bit to get him.
Mike Heika said today that he does not really expect The Stars to do much of anything before the deadline. The Marty Turco and Ott questions have been answered. Marc Crawford now has continuity before and after the Olympics, and his guys can push forward together, applying what they have learned in a new system this first year under him. Will it be enough? We start answering that question tonight. Detroit fired the first shot last night, knocking the Stars back to 10th. It's time to respond.
After the jump: A roundup of quotes and reaction from the Ott deal...
We start with NBC, and the "national media", taking a dig at the Ott signing...?
Today has been a day of teams slightly overpaying for second and third line players, in an effort not to lose them to free agency. Earlier, Steve Ott was signed by the Dallas Stars for nearly $3 million per season for for four years, and now we have the news that the Calgary Flames have signed Matt Stajan to a contract extension.
Just kidding, of course. That is Defending Big D founder Brandon Worley, and we're all so proud of the work he's doing at his new gig. Please do go visit him.
ESPN Dallas' own Richard Durrett was all over things in Frisco yesterday morning:
"It was pretty nerve-racking the last few months to not know if I was going to be traded or here," Ott said. "The commitment that the team has shown me is definitely a great feeling. I definitely believe in this team – I think we have a lot of great, up and coming young guys, with some great veterans. It’s a very exciting time for myself and it means a lot to be able to stay here."
And had Marc Crawford:
"He’s a core guy in our group; he’s very popular," Crawford said. "You don’t find players that play with a passion like Steve Ott. When you have one, you certainly hate to lose them I know that Joe [Nieuwendyk] and Frank [Provenzano] worked hard with Steve and his agent to try and find some common ground, and obviously they found it, so I think it’s really positive for us moving forward. He’s a very popular teammate.
There's much more on the signing and reaction from the team at ESPN Dallas, so give it a visit.
He also has a video with Ott that can be seen here.
"They came in with a really good offer last night, and we just felt that we needed to get this done," Ott 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." Ott, who is heavily involved in the NHL Players Association, said he had to ponder leaving the team because it would have been his first chance to study unrestricted free agency, where players typically make the most money. But Ott said he weighed the pros and cons of leaving. "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," he said. "I've always been a part of this team, and I want to end my career here. It's very important to me."
"They came in with a really good offer last night, and we just felt that we needed to get this done," Ott 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."
Ott, who is heavily involved in the NHL Players Association, said he had to ponder leaving the team because it would have been his first chance to study unrestricted free agency, where players typically make the most money. But Ott said he weighed the pros and cons of leaving.
"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," he said. "I've always been a part of this team, and I want to end my career here. It's very important to me."
Talk of ending his career here is a different matter entirely, but Steve keeps saying it. When he's 31 years old, what do you think his skill set and value will be?
And now, for some shameless self promotion:
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.
We had these and many other things to say about the Ott signing here, at Defending Big D. Just in case you missed it.
Mark Stepneski @ Andrew's Stars Page has notes from practice yesterday:
Ott, who had an emergency appendectomy just before the Olympic break, is good to go for Tuesday.
Defenseman Mark Fistric (knee) and forward Brian Sutherby are questionable for Tuesday. Coach Marc Crawford indicated that they might need some more time and might not be be available until Thursday’s game.
Loui Eriksson and Karlis Skrastins were both back from their Olympic adventures and both practiced with the team this morning. Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen are expected back tomorrow.
Marty Turco will start in goal Tuesday against L.A.
The Stars officially activated Ott from IR, btw.
Last night's return to NHL action on Versus brought about a new round of Directv sob stories. Puck Daddy predicts things will get worked out:
2. DirecTV and Versus will work out an agreement to broadcast the NHL playoffs.
Key words here are "work out". That's not to say that the entire matter will be resolved come mid-April, but at some point, the NHL is going to have to up the pressure to get the playoffs on Versus. If hockey fans that subscribe to DirecTV are to be forced to miss a number of games, and even worse some Stanley Cup games, because of the dispute, it's a huge embarrassment. An embarrassment 10 times worse than missing an entire season's worth of games that is a month away from happening.
One could imagine Versus starting another rallying campaign like they did before the season to put pressure on DirecTV. With playoff games every night, Versus will want to capitalize on the opportunity to showcase a juicy series, like say, if the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins should meet again. The dispute has gone on too long and there have already been a number of hockey fans that have left DirecTV for another television service and that number may grow a bit more if the threat of missing playoffs games comes to reality.
Versus HD comes in nice and purrty on my Verizon FiOS service.
And in honor of He-who-cannot-be-tamed, here's an oldy but a goody: