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Belanger sounds off on Capitals

Eric Belanger was angry with the Washington Capitals when their agreement to sign him to a contract never went from words to paper, as he was apparently promised over the summer. That anger was pretty clear from Katie Carrera's story Wednesday morning, in which his agent called the team "disingenuous" after Belanger wound up signing in Phoenix. The Caps, meantime, reiterated that they never had a formal contract with Belanger.

Well, Belanger went a bit bigger than "disingenuous" during an appearance on Montreal's The Team 990 on Wednesday, saying a line has been crossed. The general point he made was that he's mad. The specifics are below.

"I had a lease on a house, the kids enrolled in school," he said. "We had a verbal agreement over seven weeks ago, and they said it would take about a week to make a trade. It wasn't a question of if we were making it, it as a question of when you're gonna be signed, because they didn't want to lose any leverage on the trade, and we all know the story after that. I'm no lawyer guy, but the line has been crossed, and now I'm looking ahead. I have a great opportunity in phoenix, and i want to pay good for that organization. I feel wanted by them in Phoenix."

Belanger said he would be "a very hungry player" now, and that "it's gonna be hard for me to trust anybody else for a while in this business." The hosts joked that he wouldn't be so mad when it's January and D.C. is covered in snow, and the center laughingly agreed.

"I'm trying to take all that energy and turn it into positive one," he said. "It's not an easy situation for me and my family. Like I said, the line has been crossed when my family's involved, that's when I have a hard time swallowing it.

"But like I said, I'm turning it into positive energy, and I have to do it all over again: find a house, find schools for the kids, find baby sitters and all that. But you know what, me and my wife have done it in the past and we're gonna do it [again], and everybody's gonna be fine. And in a couple months, we're gonna look at it and probably tell ourselves that was the best thing that could've happened to us."

And so he'll apparently leave with an extremely bitter taste in his mouth towards Washington. And yet years from now, we'll remember Belanger's self-surgery on his teeth more than this, I'm betting. That's what I call a bitter taste. Or metallic, anyhow.

By Dan Steinberg  | September 15, 2010; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

It's a shame. Belanger was a solid player and I was looking forward to having him back. Not sure who to blame here, but I would definitely be pissed too if I had made all the arrangements to be staying in town. Both sides a little at fault (see in writing vs. don't promise something if you aren't going to deliver). Sounds more like a Nationals front office than Capitals.

Posted by: Section104 | September 15, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Two sides to every story. Shouldn't have made these arrangements without your wet signature on a contract.

Posted by: jf317820 | September 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, this is a shame. Belanger was a good pickup.

I don't know enough about the details or if there are certain ways of doing things in the NHL to decide where the blame, if any, lies. Somebody might be wrong, but it's also possible that the two parties just had different interpretations of their interactions.

Posted by: AndrewKB | September 15, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

later frenchie.

Posted by: erico31us | September 15, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"Two sides to every story. Shouldn't have made these arrangements without your wet signature on a contract."

Exactly. I'm a Realtor and I ALWAYS tell my clients,"It means nothing until I get it in writing."

Honestly, I don't care. While I feel bad for him losing his teeth here it's not like he's going to make or break the Caps this year.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | September 15, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

can we trade GMGM for a bag of pucks?? I know the free agents will line up to sign with the caps now.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | September 15, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if he was a "a very hungry player" when he was with the team, the team would not have let him go? Poor millionaire...

Posted by: DaveLopan | September 15, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

GMGM has done an exceedingly poor job of building the team this offseason. Now he looks like a sleazy jerk. Yeah, a deal isn't a deal until signed. But there is such a thing as your word and, if Belanger is to be believed, McPhee reneged on his. Caps are getting a rep as a classless organization which doesn't help anything.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 15, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I guess the other posters have heard both sides of the story. Already know that no free agents will sign because GMGM is a bad guy. Only an idiot buys a house without a contract. Who knows what was said by whom. I sure wouldn't give this a second thought if I was going to sign with a powerhouse team.

Posted by: bflorhodes | September 15, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate because a full season of him at the 3C would've been nice. That said, when I read people on other sites saying that Washington will take a big hit in terms of their potential FA acquisitions going forward .... that, I can't agree with. When you (Caps) will annually be in the top 3-5 teams and maintain arguably the best player in the league ... players will come regardless. It's not something to brag about by any means, however I recall Belanger's camp making this public ... and for that ... I feel he should share the blame.

Posted by: MFepelst | September 15, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse


I feel for the Belanger family, I really do...

But at the same time...KUDOS TO THE CAPS...This signing by the Coyotes showed us that the Caps would have OVERPAID Belanger by 1.1 million dollars had he signed here.

SHREW MOVE! Use that money at the trade deadline when we may get someone who will actually HELP the Caps down the stretch!

Posted by: dglelite | September 15, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

It was widely known out in the blogs that Belanger had a verbal agreement that would be executed when GMGM could dish off someone like Flash. The team couldn't get the trade or the deal done. Of course he needs to get that stuff in writing, but he probably has good reason to be angry if the team asked him to wait in good faith.

Posted by: minhle1 | September 15, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I fail the see the problem here.

GMGM told Belanger that he would sign Eric to a contract once he completed a trade.

That trade never happened so no contract.

Exactly how are the Caps at fault here?

Yes it sucks, but it happens. A couple of years ago we had a deal to move Nylander to Chicago but the Blackhawks backed out at the last second. How GMGM can be held responsible for the actions of other GM's is beyond me.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 15, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Coyotes got him so cheap because they promised him top 6 minutes (they're the only playoff team that can make it work given their forward composition and even strength style), AND because this late in the season everyone who isn't a top end player signs for peanuts just to play somewhere. He's easily a 1.5-2 million player on a team that knows how to use him.

That said, he's not a guy I really wanted to go after. Proven to have little chemistry with our linemates. But just leave don't have him hanging by your words, that's just messed up.

Much rather we went after a legitimate (if overpaid) physical 3rd line center that can win even strength matchups and work the PK, or possibly Arnott. Ideal offseason would be Fleischmann + 1st + 3rd for Kelly + 1st (1st low enough to draft Tarasenko), Weaver to a 2 year contract as our #5 D, and Frolov on a cheap one year deal as Semin's winger, which gives us an elite 3rd line in Laich-Kelly-Fehr as well as an elite 4th line in Chimera-Gordon-Bradley. Dump Steckel somewhere (maybe with Fleischmann) and instead of wasting SDR on King sign Scott to slightly more than Chicago gave him and have him go up against Boogaard. Give Wellwood a league min tryout as an alternative 4th line center/top 6 fill-in, he outplayed Kesler and Sedin against the Hawks and is a much better player than he was a year ago/people give him credit for. Roll Perreault at 2nd line and if he doesn't impress flip Tarasenko+Gordon+ for Richards at the deadline.

Going into the season that alone would eliminate (on paper) our PK woes (Kelly and Weaver are each probably top 20 PKers in the league at their positions) and improve every single line from last season except the first.

Ovechkin Backstrom Knuble
Semin Perreault Frolov (or flip wings)
Laich Kelly Fehr
Chimera Gordon Bradley
Wellwood Gordon

Schultz Green
Alzner Carlson
Poti Weaver

Varlamov
Neuvirth

Posted by: yellowtail99 | September 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

>>I fail the see the problem here.

GMGM told Belanger that he would sign Eric to a contract once he completed a trade.

That trade never happened so no contract.

Exactly how are the Caps at fault here?<<

Did McPhee say he would be signed IF he made a trade, or was he promised that he would be signed and just told not to go public with it until the trade was made? If the latter, McPhee and the Caps are sleazebags on this.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 15, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if the Phoenix deal reveals fair value...he certainly lost leverage when his verbal deal with the Caps fell apart late in the signing period.

Posted by: minhle1 | September 15, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Several possibilities based on the facts we know.

1) The Caps actually broke a promise made directly to Belanger.

2) Belanger misinterpreted communications with the caps.

3) MOST LIKELY: the communication became muddled due to the overzealous agent middleman. Caps to agent: "we'll sign Belanger at X terms if we can trade Flash. It's looking promising." Agent to Belanger: "Get a house! I've got the contract terms set. Just a matter of time. They're finalizing a trade to make room."

Posted by: ThisGuy | September 15, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like Lavar Arrington's complaint about the Redskins and money.

Posted by: GABinOdenton | September 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I thought Belanger was coming back. Do the Caps need a center now? Looks like they went from a strong second line/third line center combination last year (BMo and Belanger) to a weaker combination for the upcoming season. They still have mad skill and should obviously do well, I just think they looked a little stronger on paper with their roster last year although they didn't get it done in the playoffs.

Posted by: MorrisonFan | September 15, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

So, the Caps told Belanger that they would resign him for the agreed upon price.

Then _someone_ went and told the media the same thing, potentially undermining any ongoing trade discussions. Agent? Belly? I'm pretty sure it wasn't McPhee since he probably wouldn't talk to the media if it wasn't a job requirement. I remember thinking it was strange to go public at the time, whoever did it.

It sure looks like the Caps strung him along forever though.

Still, I think a lot of the actual blame falls on the agent. How long do you let your client get strung along like that with McPhee not returning phone calls, etc?

Maybe don't hire a lawyer working the agent job as a side gig next time?

Posted by: tha_prophet | September 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@poguesmahone

I'm not sure what you're driving at with your semantical game. How is either one different? Because they both boil down to that a trade has to be made/finalized in order for the contract to be signed. No trade, no contract.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 15, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

maybe if he didnt play like such a p**** than we would've resigned him

Posted by: nford2 | September 15, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@ Yellowtail -- good stuff!

I'm wondering: Did Bellanger's leaking of his negotiations with the Caps (after he was told to keep it quiet)bollix the trade that the Caps were working on? If that's the case, then he should be angry with himself.

Posted by: tfirey | September 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

When you are making three quarters of a million dollars in ONE YEAR to play a game, you are cordially invited to shut your yap about something like this. Don't expect me to shed too many tears for the guy making 10 times my salary to play a sport because he and his family were slightly inconvenienced.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | September 15, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What was the trade the Caps were supposed to make but never did?

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | September 15, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes legal wise he has no leg to stand on and it was really his bad for trusting someone he doesn't really know. However when a man gives his word he should stick to it. Not shocked McPhee is that type at all though. He fails to make needed trades and screws over a family cause he has no ability to add needed parts. If it's true of course but dude seems pretty convincing.

All this cause he over values his own players and thinks guys like Sloan are depth. In most other towns this guy would have been fired long ago. I am pretty sure many other GM's could have done a lot more with Ovechkin by now.

Posted by: Mike4169 | September 15, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

CapsNut: I'm not sure I can help you if you can't understand the difference between a deal being made and one not being made. If McPhee said they have a deal but told him not to announce it pending the trade (in order to preserve the team's leverage in the trade) then it was a sleazy move to renege. McPhee has a long history of leaving unhappy players in his wake, so for you to think that he is beyond slimy practices is very naive.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 15, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps need a new GM, I hear there is an ex-GM/confidante/sycophant/racquetball partner of Dan Snyder that is available.

Posted by: playahatah | September 16, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

He should know how the professional sports world works. Until he signed that deal on paper he should not have gone ahead with all his plans. Sorry he feels ill will towards Washington, but he's probably more upset that he won't have a chance at a cup again for a long, long time. Sorry Eric. C-A-P-S!!

Posted by: smfoster3 | September 16, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

he should dump his agent.

Posted by: reeereee | September 16, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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