Flaming Guy Finally Comes Outby Clark Kent | October 13, 2010, 8:09 AM ET
This season's SICHL free agency period has had its share of excitement. First, Tyler Bozak seemingly won the lottery when the Whitehorse Huskies signed the college standout to a $6M, 1-year contract. Now, a flurry of restricted free agent offers has pitted Golden Bears' general manager Guy Flaming against rivals Jason MacIsaac of the Amsterdam Admirals and Mike Franceschini of the Edmonton Supersonics.
MacIsaac and Franceschini both targeted players that Flaming elected to expose to league-wide bidding by offering only qualifying offers (75% of their previous contracts) rather than offering marginal raises and resigning the players to extensions. While MacIsaac backed up the dump truck with a $6.5M offer to goaltender Jimmy Howard, Franceschini offered relatively digestible contracts of $2.5M for young centreman Peter Mueller, and $1.65M for defenseman Tom Gilbert.
"It happens once, it's annoying... it happens twice and you start getting a bit upset," said a teary Flaming in a press conference held outside Golden Bears' headquarters, a lavishly decorated outhouse located in Saint John. Regaining composure, Flaming continued. "What I do know is that [the Supersonics] won't have much fun at the draft for the next three years and as of now, Acadia is going to be very busy with three first rounders each year."
When reached for comment, the normally stoic Franceschini was unapologetic. "He's going to give up on a premiere prospect because he's upset? Get over yourself! It's a business! And by the way, have you seen his drafting record? For a guy that drafts so much, he has a pretty spotty record, and he just let me sign away one of two players that have actually panned out for him! He's absolutely ruined that Eberle kid [prospect Jordan Eberle]. Have 'fun' drafting more players that probably won't play on your roster... I'll be over here winning championships."
While both Mueller and Gilbert are coming off disappointing seasons, these offers indicate that Franceschini is planning more for the future than the present. Mueller has played one season in the SICHL, but posted impressive numbers with 54 points in 76 games. Last year he was banished to the GHA's Colorado Cubs, resulting in a request for a trade. Flaming refused, but by only extending a qualifying offer to the 21-year old, it was clear that the 8th overall pick from 2006 was no longer in the long-term plans for the Golden Bears.
"We've seen in the past how the kid reacts to a change in scenery," said Franceschini. "We think he'll be just fine."
As for Gilbert, at 26 he's still a relatively young player that plays top minutes against the opposition's best players. His offensive numbers are sure to increase after a down season.
In signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, the Supersonics must surrender draft picks to the Golden Bears as compensation. "Yes, we're going to lose some draft picks, but drafting where we typically do [late in the round], what are the odds that we would be able to draft a player with the upside of a Peter Mueller? Especially one that will be able to play for us while we still have the best goaltender in the league [Ryan Miller] playing at the top of his game?"
Franceschini refused further elaboration. Asked if the annual fishing trip that has been an annual tradition between the two is still on for next season, Franceschini was brief.
"You'll have to ask Guy. I may need to buy him chocolates or take him to a movie first."