Thursday, January 27, 2011

Matt Moulson Signs 3-Year Deal: Finally

The news hit late this afternoon when no one expected anything from Islanders Country to hit the wire. It was welcome news none-the-less. While I was not able to speak with anyone involved first-hand about the deal, I’ll say that I’ve been discussing a long term deal for Matt Moulson with the Islanders GM for months.

Read that: I’ve been nudging the living daylights out of Garth Snow every chance I got. Yep. You would have thought I was Matt’s agent. I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons, unlike Newsday reporters, I don’t have Snow’s cell phone number.

It was a fight I took up at the end of last season, after Matt’s 30 goal surprise season. I had faith in him from day one. I made a champagne induced birthday bet that Matt, a fellow Scorpio, would score 20 goals by January. By the second bottle of champagne, I upped the ante to January 1st. I should have just left it at “January” and I would have been correct. But Matt wasn’t done at 20, he kept going. There it was at 25 goals and then the surprise ending at 30 goals and playing all 82 games.

I would interview him in the locker room with the rest of the media, but many of our conversations were off-the-record small talk, especially after painful losses. Matt is easy to talk to and easy to read. He wears his heart on his sleeve and can’t hide his emotions behind those wide puppy-dog eyes. When he’s up, he’s on cloud nine and he can take you with him. When he’s down, it could break your heart.

Matt is a good person and a great friend. You can tell by the way he relates with John Tavares. It seemed as if he never left his side that first year. Their stalls are next to each other in the locker room. They roomed together at Doug Weight’s pool house. John cooks for him on off days. I don’t even know how Matt found the time to get married.

Last summer, when Matt was one of the players at the draft party unveiling the new retro jersey, a few of the attending media had a chance to talk to him. I had my video camera rolling when he talked about Nino Niederreiter and hopes for the coming season. He didn’t have a new deal at the time and when I asked him about the negotiations, he said his agent was handling it and professed how much he wanted to stay long term and be a part of what was happening on the Island. He laughed, “I‘ll send Garth a few texts and see if I can speed things up. Maybe you should too.” He didn’t know I already had -- A few times.

The negotiation process didn’t exactly go as planned and when I saw that Moulson had taken the Islanders to arbitration after refusing his qualifying offer, my heart sank. I thought for sure it would end badly. Visions of Sean Bergenheim leaving for Russia replayed in my mind. When I questioned the situation, I was assured it was all part of the process and that everything would be fine -- just fine. Everything was.

The one-year deal that Moulson signed over the summer was set to expire at the end of this season, which for the Islanders is basically April. When other players were being signed to extensions and new deals as votes of confidence, there was no word on a deal for Matt. Of course, no one would want to lose a valuable asset like Matt Moulson. In the NHL, you never want to lose something of value for nothing. That’s just bad business.

Rumors swirled that Moulson would be traded somewhere, anywhere, for something and maybe not even something worthwhile. You know, because that’s the Islanders M.O.

Like most fans who fell in love with the NHL Cinderella story that is Matt, I protested any such move. Like the nudge that I am, I protested vehemently and perpetually. I probably didn’t need to since all indications were a) Matt Moulson wanted to stay an Islander b) The Islanders wanted Matt Moulson to stay an Islander. Pretty cut and dry don’t you think?

Add to the equation a new marriage with a home not far from our coast and a best friend still growing into his career in the NHL and you’ve got all the reasons in the world for the guy who was drafted by the Penguins and given up on by the LA Kings whose career was rejuvenated on the Island to remain in Blue, White and Orange.

So what was the fuss with the trade talk? That’s the NHL and that’s the NHL media. It garnered page views and radio content. However, when all was said and done, Matt Moulson stays exactly where he is supposed to be; in a stall of the NY Islanders locker room right next to John Tavares.

While Newsday’s Katie Strang Tweeted out the details of the $9.4 million 3-year contract along with quotes from Matt and Garth Snow, Moulson addressed Twitter himself:

Extremely excited to have another 3 years with a great organization...I love LI and am honored to be a part of this team

Add this to Art Staple’s Newsday story today about Zenon’s Konopka’s perpetual attempts to explain to detractors what is really happening here on the Island. Staple quotes Konopka as saying "Part of our job with this team is rebuild the legacy of this franchise. It's going to take some time, obviously, and we're still a ways away. But you've got to take those first few steps."

Signing Matt Moulson to a reasonable three-year deal is one of those most important first steps.



Anonymous said...

Awesome to get a different perspective on the deal. Well written as always-and I really enjoyed reading it!

Ken Dick said...

Next in line is Kyle. 5 year deal. Text Garth with that one.

Meg said...

I'm thrilled the Isles got this done. Matty didn't fit the Kings long term plans, but he was always very kind to all the fans here and well liked in the organization. He and the Isles seem like a good fit for each other, and he'll do right by your team. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for getting in Garth's ear about Moulson. The Islanders need to keep SOME of the good guys for us die-hard fans to keep watching.

P.S. You said you didn't have Garth's cell phone, but you texted him to sign Moulson. Hmmm.... LOL


7th Woman said...

Nope, he won't give me his cell number, but he can't keep me from using his email address.... wait... he can... SHOOT! They can block me can't they. Damn it.

Wise Ass said...

I'd like to give Zenon Konopka a 1- or 2-year extension. He's great on faceoffs, willing to drop the gloves, and an organizational ambassador.

After we sign the UFAs we want to retain, it's time to move onto the RFAs. I also have been wanting to give twin 7-year deals to Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. And Michael Grabner has been earning a long-term contract as well.

I feel that this franchise is banking on these guys to lead the team as it becomes a contender. We might as well put our money where our mouths are and make a financial commitment to them. By doing it now, we can sign them while the price is modest.