Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

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Just Say “NO!” to Peca & Meehan August 21, 2007

Meehan Issues an Ultimatum to the Rangers

According to TSN, which quotes John Dellapina of the The Daily News, Michael Peca’s agent has issued an ultimatum to Glen Sather, New York Rangers President and General Manager. “We’re probably going to force the issue by (today),” Don Meehan told the New York Post. “If I can’t reach him (today), we’ll just go our separate way.”

Michael Peca, 32, an NHL journeyman who has played with five different teams and is coming of an injury-shortened season, is at the center of an amazing media blitz by Meehan to stir up interest. Peca has also made himself highly visible in the press as he fights to find a team willing to take a chance on him next season. He remains one of several high-profile free agents who have been unable to find a taker.

So far, nobody is jumping through hoops to sign Peca. At 32 and following a broken leg last season, there is too much speculation that Peca is a high-risk signing at the salary he might command. There is little doubt that Meehan, agent to many NHL players, is probably trying to inflate Peca’s value by creating an artificial bidding war.

Peca completed a thorough physical and underwent meetings with the Rangers’ coaches last week. Sather left town for a short vacation on Thursday without making an offer to Peca. By Saturday, reports were coming out of Columbus that the Blue Jackets were interested in Peca, and Peca was quoted as saying that he would like to play there..

This is contrary to statements he made in New York that he was only interested in playing for the Rangers because they are a serious Stanley Cup contender.

It is within the realm of possibility that Peca was not impressive during his conversation with the coaches. It is also fair to speculate that Peca’s physical did not meet the high standards that Rangers head coach Tom Renney expects of his players.

Some suspect that Meehan’s ultimatum carries a long term threat with it. The Peca situation is delicate for Sather because Meehan is the agent for the Rangers’ star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Most hockey insiders expect the Rangers’ attempts to sign Lundqvist to a long term deal after Jan. 1 to be anything but smooth, and it likely that Meehan will take Lundqvist into the free agent market.

Regardless, this latest story has changed my opinion of the Peca negotiations, and I hope Sather will JUST SAY NO to this childish ultimatum! I was pretty neutral about the whole Peca thing until now, going with the popular thinking that Peca’s negatives are balanced out by his positives. The Rangers need a third line center, but they don’t need Peca. They may have to play a rookie, they may have to try Blair Betts, or they may have to make a trade. There is nothing to be gained by giving into an ultimatum from an agent who negotiates in the newspapers.

By now, one would have hoped that Dellapina would have become more responsible as a sportswriter and a hockey analyst. By acting as a mouth piece for the likes of Meehan and Peca, Dellapina (and his competitors at The New York Post) have reached a new low by allowing Meehan to issue ultimatums in the press. This is another fine example of sports journalism.

Just say NO to Peca!


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