Vesey shuns Nashville; Seeks UFA

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

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Say it ain’t so, Joe Jimmy! #VeseyWatch is officially over as the Predators’ third round 2012 NHL Draft pick has chosen to go the route of unrestricted free agency instead of joining Nashville. TSN reporter Bob McKenzie was the first to break the news:

As you can imagine, the Preds Twitterverse was raging at this news with some people showing no surprise whatsoever, and others completely baffled.

While I wasn’t too surprised by this announcement, it was still very disappointing. As much as I think the Predators are doing fine without him and – who knows – adding him might throw off the chemistry and kill any chance of a deep playoff run (the kid has never seen a slice of NHL ice time), it is still frustrating to know Nashville will get nothing for drafting him.

It became even more frustrating when David Poile called an impromptu press conference during the first intermission regarding Vesey’s choice to wait out UFA.

“On Wednesday, we received a call that they were thinking about free agency. This was the first time that had ever been told to anyone in our organization. At that point, we kind of asked why and they just said it was the attraction of free agency. I said that I felt that this was a complete 180 and that I’d to have a meeting with Jimmy, his family, and his representatives. [I] spoke with his dad, I believe it was on Thursday, who seemed to be very much in favor of his son signing in Nashville and agreed to have a meeting sometime when the season was over. We called the agents and told them that Paul Fenton (Assistant GM) and I would come up to the game with Scott Nichol (Director of Player Development) on Friday to cheer Jimmy on. We met with the agents for about an hour up in Boston where we went over all their feelings and they thought it was good that we came up. [We] talked about a lot of things. We asked for a meeting and they said they would talk to Jimmy about that and hopefully we would have a meeting.

Paul Fenton and I came back here [Nashville] on Saturday. Scott Nichol stayed there in Boston because we invited Jimmy and his family and his representatives to come to Nashville whether he was signed or not, whether it be Saturday, Monday. Or, if not, Paul Fenton and I were going to go back to Boston to meet with all of them Tuesday. There’s been a lot of conversations, but never once did we ever get together to have a meeting.

Every indication was that he was going to sign with us. His dad had told me, Peter Laviolette, Scott Nichol, and Paul Fenton that his son was going to sign with us. And Jimmy himself told Paul Fenton prior to the trade deadline, which was an important time for us because it was our last opportunity to change our team. We told him if he was going to sign with us we were going to keep a position available for him, and he told us that he was going to sign with us.

So, for whatever reason, and after all the time and resources that we invested in Jimmy Vesey’s development, we could not get a meeting with Jimmy, his family, and his representatives all together. That’s the only thing I asked for after Wednesday and they would not accommodate us on that.”

The last two paragraphs from Poile’s press conference are what you need to take away from this. Both Jimmy and his father told David Poile that he [Vesey] would be signing with Nashville. Although Nashville made a move early before the Trade Deadline with the Jones/Johansen trade, Poile’s comments indicate that the organization would have possibly made more moves before the deadline, but were going by Vesey’s word that he would sign with the team once his season was over with Harvard.

Another important quote to take away from this presser is:

Now, take this information with a grain of salt. This does not mean Toronto or Boston or whoever put a little bug in his ear, but – on the other hand – who is to say they did not. Unrestricted Free Agency is a tasty little deal, but there is no denying Jimmy would’ve been given the best deal if he signed with Nashville. An automatic top 6 position in the lineup, playoff time, and the chance to burn a year on his entry-level contract? Yeah, there’s no doubt – if Jimmy wanted the best deal – he received bad advice, but if it really is all about the idea of signing wherever he wants, then here’s to hoping every team grovels at his feet for him to join.

Hockey is a business and the kid certainly has the right to change his mind, even after making all these lovely promises to the Predators organization. However, with business comes reputation and well, this making promises then tucking tail and not facing the music is a bit… sleazy. If he did honestly change his mind, he and his agents needed to man-up and explain their case to Nashville. That’s just my opinion, but I have a feeling some others would agree.

Honestly, I cannot blame the kid for seeking a chance to go wherever he wants, but I do not like how the negotiations were handled – or lack thereof. Vesey may want to find another set of agents, because their actions can reflect poorly on him and his character.

David Poile and his team still have rights to Vesey until August 15th, so the Predators GM claims he will continue to persuade Vesey to join the Predators organization. In my opinion, Nashville has plenty of up-and-coming talent in Milwaukee that should have a shot a the NHL, especially since these guys have already shown commitment to the Predators organization. If Vesey really wants to stay in Boston or play under the supervision of his father in Toronto, I say let him. The toughest part for Nashville is this loophole where players can go off to college or Europe and, after four years, hit UFA. And what does that team get after drafting the kid? Nothing. But that, my friends, is fight for another day.

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