Thirty minutes after the Minnesota Wild officially signed Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to 13-year, $98 million contracts, Predators general manager David Poile had a conference call with both national and local media. Before anyone could ask Poile a question, the GM voiced disappointment and frustration over Suter’s decision.
“I received the news this morning from Ryan Suter that we were not going to be the team of choice in this negotiation,” said Poile. “It would be an understatement to say that the Nashville Predators are disappointed at this time. Not only am I disappointed, but very surprised.
“Over the last year I’ve had 20, 30, 40 conversations with Ryan and his representatives – mostly with Ryan about our desire to sign him to a long-term deal and his importance to the Predators’ hockey club.
“In all of his conversations, Ryan has sort of had a criteria for why he would sign with Nashville and why it was important to him. We talked about a winning team, and I think we represented that to Ryan.”
Poile hoped loyalty would cause Suter to re-sign. Poile was optimistic all along that the Predators would get the last chance to sign Suter, that the All-Star defenseman would circle back and give the only organization he’s ever known the final crack at it. According to Poile, that didn’t happen.
“Ryan has told me in every conversation that money was not the most important criteria. He told me today that our offer was substantial, that it was not about the money. We did not get a chance to make a counter offer – (Suter) did not want that. It was clearly not about the money … He told me it was for family reasons.
“The disappointing part is that is not what we had talked about all year long. We met Ryan’s desires on every front. So today it is very, very disappointing.”
“Ryan had said when we had a meeting in November with [his agent], that he wasn’t going anywhere else and that he was signing with the Nashville Predators.”
Poile also stated that he would immediately turn his attention to ‘Plan B’, as well as captain Shea Weber, who is a restricted free agent. Poile would not disclose who the Predators will pursue via trade or free agency, but he is hopeful that Weber will stay long-term.
“He’s the player we want to build our team around,” said Poile. “We want him to be in Nashville for years to come.
“I talked equally as much to Shea this year as I have to Ryan about the future. Shea certainly hoped that Ryan would re-sign; I know if Ryan re-signed that would have made it a lot easier to have Shea make a commitment.”
Whether Weber signs long-term or not, he will no longer be patrolling the blue-line in Nashville alongside Suter. Weber and Suter have been a staple for the Predators ever since the lockout, but now the organization must proceed down a different path.
“This was a real missed opportunity,” said Poile. “This could have gone down as the best defensive pair ever in the National Hockey League.”