Spartans Stand Patby Sean Gallagher | January 6, 2015, 1:28 AM ET
The general manager himself will admit that he caused most of the rumors about his team this year. In the media, on his twitter feed, and in his wink-wink-nod-nod demeanor during off the record meetings with other general managers, GM Sean Gallagher has chummed the trade waters, or, as he put it, "made sure there was meat on the burner," a reference as obvious as any in the town of St. Louis, where Ron Caron once made that phrase popular.
But in recent days, Gallagher has backed away from his tradin' ways and seems to be reverse-checking any inquiries about the players on his current roster. When asked directly if he has some sort of revised agenda, Gallagher was quite forthcoming, saying, "I'm as guilty of anyone of thinking the grass is greener in my neighbor's yard than it is in my own, sometimes. But I've had at least five trades go sour at the last second this year because I was asking for too much for my assets. Looking back now, just a few weeks later, I'm the guy who is going, 'that grass seems a little browner than it did a couple weeks ago.' So, it's true, sometimes the best trade is the one you don't make.
"It's pretty obvious that this isn't our year to challenge for the Continental Cup," Gallagher continued, "But as this season moves on, I'm more and more convinced that we are in a bit of a step-back year rather than a complete, blow-it-up year."
Gallagher believes, for instance, that previously shopped players like Ryan Kesler and Phil Kessel and even Eric Fehr and Michal Grabner will be worth more in the Spartan lineup in coming years than they will in trade this season. Offers for defensemen Kevin Klein, Marc Staal and Roman Polak have made Gallagher believe he's better off to see what they can do next year rather than cough them up too early.
"The start of this year has been tough, no doubt," said Gallagher, "but those are proud players in that room, and they're not any happier about the way things are going than the front office is. Even if this year is rough, there are good things happening. We're slowly but surely working ourselves out of debt and back into the quality free agency game, our core players are playing well and looking good for next year and if we can bounce right back into contention next year then all this suffering will be worth it.
"What I refuse to do is sell low on any asset on this team. I believe that these guys will persevere. I believe that next year will be better than this one. I believe that we are in a spot where we don't have to go through five years of bottom-feeding to be good again.
"I do. I really do.
"But," he said with a wink and a smile, "I do love the smell of meat on the burner."