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Bryan Murray Speaks: 4:00 pm Media Availability This Afternoon

Bryan Murray met with the NHL media at 4:00 pm this afternoon to discuss, amongst other things, the Jason Spezza sweepstakes and the NHL Draft that occurs tomorrow night.

To listen to the interview, you can follow this link or listen to the embedded audio at the bottom of this post.

As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On what the last couple of hours have been like in terms of phone calls…

“Well, there’s been a few, not a lot. I have talked to a number of managers that had expressed interest in certain players on our team and in a couple of cases, wondered if I was interested in a player or two that had never been brought up before. So, it’s just normal somewhat leading up to the draft that there are more calls than (I) usually get.”

On whether he anticipates lots of movement…

“Well there hasn’t been any yet and I don’t know at this point. There is certainly going to be discussion. Whether anything comes of that… one of the managers, we were kind of laughing. We do a lot of talking and not a lot of things happen on some occasions, so we continue to talk.”

On the odds of moving Spezza by the end of the weekend…

“I’m not a betting man so I won’t give any odds. I’m not sure at this point. We’re certainly having some discussion. Not as much as I thought might happen today, but there are again, a few people talking to me that have expressed interest and we’ll just play it out and see if anything comes of it.”

On whether the list of suitors for Spezza has expanded at all…

“Yeah, there’s a couple more today now that have kind of… actually, yesterday… started to call and asked if we could talk. We’ve had that conversation, but nothing that is much different.”

Teams that have been linked to Spezza include: Anaheim, St. Louis, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago and Florida.

On the quality of the offers thus far…

“No, as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, when you trade a player of this stature, you never win. You might get more pieces, you might get better depth for the organization and that’s what you hope to have happen, but you don’t get a player of that calibre or close to it in most cases.”

Sometimes taking one step backward allows you to take two steps forward and in a loaded 2015 draft class, maybe losing the Spezza deal from its onset, is a blessing in disguise.

On whether there’s a deadline for making a deal…

“No, actually and I’ve told this to the agent and the player, it may happen and there may be conversations that bring us close to it, but (getting a deal done by this weekend) certainly doesn’t have to be the cut-off point by any means. It could go all summer and it could go into the year.”

Posturing at its finest and Murray can’t really be expected to say anything different. Perhaps this situation could be different had Murray not come out and publicly acknowledged that Spezza has asked to be moved, because now, the Senators can’t really have the black cloud of another captain wanting to be moved lingering over the organization until he’s moved, if at all.

It’s also of equal importance for the Senators to get value for Spezza while they can. Looking at the prices that teams paid at the trade deadline last season, I don’t think the Senators should be expecting anywhere close to the value that they can find now, especially while the player is healthy. For a player whose health is already a red flag, the Senators can ill afford to bring Spezza back and have him get hurt and decimate whatever value he has left.

He has to be moved before the end of the summer and Bryan Murray and every other general manager knows it. 

On the possibility that Spezza could be back with the Senators…

“If I don’t get the right deal, he has a year left on his contract and that could be the case, yeah.”

No. Just stop Bryan, you’re not fooling anyone.

On how he mentioned some other names popped up and whether that was in relation to a possible Spezza deal…

“No, they were inquiring about Spezza. The inquiries have mainly been about him. I’ve had a few agents do other things, but from the managers’ point of view, it’s mainly been about Jason.”

No nibbles on Colin Greening or Jared Cowen? Damn. 

On whether he’s touched base with any prospective UFAs…

“I have talked to one UFA – not directly, through his agent – expressed a little interest and we will talk a further later, possibly. But that’s all I’ve done.”

Any guesses on who that may be? Here is the list right here.

On the five-day window that teams have to negotiate with UFAs before July 1st

“I guess there’s an advantage in that you get to know the player a little bit. If you want to fly him in or meet him on some occasion, but to me, it’s pretty tough to get your own player back if you’re in negotiations with him because the options open up if he’s a good player. So I don’t know that I really like it. I really think that the way we had it… maybe there’s a one-day possibility or a one-day window at some point, I don’t know. I kind of like the idea of before: you wait until July (1st) and then you get on the phone and you try to recruit.”

Sounds like Murray is a little bitter that teams are already in the ear of Milan Michalek and is pining for the good ol’ days. Fuck, I hate to say it, but I’m yearning for the good ol’ days myself – when this organization actually built itself smartly on a small budget through the late 1990′s and didn’t get caught up in this philosophy that you can be semi-competitive on a shoestring budget, get lucky with a few playoff matchups and luck yourself into a Stanley Cup run.

On whether this five-day window serves to set the price…

“It helps set the price and it’s always for the player, of course because the window does open wider for those people. If you can sell one team on it, you can up (the offer) by the next team and we have some masters at doing that in this business.”

At least we know the organization believes it won’t be “stupid” when it comes to re-upping Michalek at whatever cost.

On developments on the Milan Michalek front…

“No, I haven’t talked to… I talked to Allan Walsh, what’s today? Probably Tuesday, somewhere in that range. We have an agreement that we will talk sometime this weekend, but we haven’t talked today.”

Sounds like Michalek is following Ales Hemsky’s path out of town. 

On Spezza and the offers having to improve for something to happen…

“Yeah, that’s what… I’ve had a couple of teams make offers, but certainly not to the point that I’m ready to say we’re close to a deal.”

On whether he’s given any teams permission to speak to Spezza’s camp…

“No, there’s no permission really needed at this point. He’s our player and unless we’re right and ready to sign the document and they want to know if he’ll extend or not, that would be the only time that I would allow that. But, I’m not saying… no, I won’t say anything.”

I don’t understand this approach. Agreeing to a trade in principle without ever allowing the other GM to negotiate sounds like a process in which you’re not maximizing your leverage – since you’re otherwise treating Spezza as a one-year rental player. Offering an extension seems like it would create some leverage in any negotiation, but Spezza’s representatives have told interested teams that a Spezza extension will be a formality anyways? 

On whether there’s an advantage to moving Spezza now and there being any fears that the offers could get worse…

“And (the offers) could. I don’t have an offer that I like right now, so I don’t really have an answer for that. Will it get better before tomorrow? I don’t know that and it’s up to the (teams) that we’re talking to. So whether (the trade offers) drop off afterwards, if it drops off afterwards, obviously he’s an Ottawa Senator.”

There’s a greater chance of Eugene Melnyk selling the team tomorrow than there is of Jason Spezza dressing in a Senators jersey again.

On whether the offers tend to improve as we get closer to the draft…

“Well we talk more because we’re prompted by some of you people to talk more and we do, there’s no question. Whether it forces you to get ready to do something or not, I’m not sure. Because the draft doesn’t start until seven o’clock tomorrow night, it’s very possible that there will be an afternoon conversation tomorrow.”

One can hope. 

On the possibility of getting a first round pick in a trade and whether that’s predicated on a Spezza deal…

“What I find every time I’ve been to a draft is that when you get to the day of the draft or the day before the draft, that first round pick is hard to get. So I’m not shopping for one at this point.”

Bryan Murray is like the anti-Alex Anthopolous, who’s renowned for getting as much information and inquiring as much as he can on everyone and everything. 

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