"Stupid" is the word in all the Rangers headlines, and "stupid" is the word I'll use in mine. This is fucking stupid.
The one and a half of you who regularly read this blog are aware that I have been panicking about the Brandon Dubinsky situation far less than the rest of the Garden Faithful. Everyone has been crying "Sather's doing something stupid again!" and not entirely unjustifiably: no doubt, Dubinsky is worth more than the $522,500 qualifying offer (less than he made last season). And yes, we have a history of giving orders of magnitude more money to people less deserving. My response has consistently been that it ain't really about being fair: Dubinsky is a restricted free agent unlikely to receive an offer sheet, so let's sign him for the minimum possible to get him to play for us. He's up for arbitration next season, anyway, so we'll sign him to a bigger contract then (like we did with Callahan) or mid-season this year (like we did with Lundqvist). You'll recall me telling everyone to chill the fuck out.
Well, this weekend, some things happened. Friday night became Saturday morning (as it so often does). With Saturday morning came the start of training camp (officially). With Friday night came no news of a new contract for Dubinsky. And so, with the start of training camp came no Brandon Dubinsky.
Today is day 3 of training camp (full updated roster can be found here), and Dubi, still not under contract, has still not reported. Now, we have a problem. And honestly? I'm starting to blame Dubinsky.
At the end of the day, it is Dubinsky (or, more correctly, his agent) who is rejecting an invitation to come play for a hockey club. News came out today that he has been offered at least $700,000 by the Rangers, and is still rejecting it. This is stupid. He just doesn't have the clout to hold out for a few hundred thousand dollars at this point. It's just a waiting game: he has nothing to gain here. He keeps saying "I expect all this to get worked out and I want to be there on the Rangers," but how badly can he want that at this point? His agent (theoretically) is now making a power move to keep him out of training camp? For what, a few hundred thousand dollars the year before he's up for arbitration anyway? It just doesn't make any goddamn sense. Sign the contract, reneg next year, and meanwhile, get your ass to training camp.
It's easy to blame Sather here - "just pay the guy his money and get him started!" - but really, Dubi's the one being stubborn into foolishness here. I think, as I usually do, that Torts put it best:
Stupid. It's stupid. I'm not going to get into negotiations, but it's stupid. He's a young man who needs to be in camp with his teammates, who needs to go through the process of understanding what a pro is. I'm not sure where the thinking's coming from, but I still think players need to think for themselves. I think we blame it on agents all the time - I think his agent's stupid. I'm hoping he realizes that there's teammates here, too. So I'll leave it at that.
Where do we go from here? Hopefully, the stupidness ends soon, Dubi signs a deal (for $700,000 or whatever else is on the table), and we get a first-line center to camp in time. But meanwhile, every day of camp that goes by without him is another day harder it is for Dubi to actually do what's necessary to fill that role. And do you really think Torts's training regimen is on hold until Dubi gets his shit together? Torts, any chance of Dubi coming to camp anyway?
He's not under contract, he doesn't want to be with us. He's not coming to camp until he signs a contract. I think Dubi understands my feeling, and I think he understands how Glen feels about it too. Glen - and I was privy to the conversation - I thought was very honest with Dubi the other day as a general manager, man-to-man, and as a friend - all different options. I thought it was terrific what he did with the kid. But whoever has decided not to do this at such a young age, I think it's - it's not my decision. So we move on.
Surely as Fridays become Saturdays, day threes of training camp become day fours, and day fives. 15 players on the training camp roster (so, Dubinsky notwithstanding, 14 players actually AT training camp) are listed as centers. How long do you really think the Rangers are going to put up with this bullshit, Brandon? Yeah, you're home-grown. Yeah, you're good at hockey. So is Evgeny Grachev. So is Artem Anisimov. And they remembered to come to work on time.