A Week of Turnarounds

Published by Bill Kellett on Friday, September 17, 2010 — View Comments

It has been a strange week in the sporting world to say the least, and although i realize this is primarily a hockey blog, I feel it appropriate this week to also incorporate some football. Two separate incidents, both on the same day, but with a similar storyline, definitely out of the ordinary. I am talking of course of the curious cases of Rickey Foley and Eric Belanger, two athletes in different sports but both in the news for essentially a “turnaround” of sorts.

Tuesday evening it was believed that Foley, who is a defensive end, had agreed to a contract with the BC Lions, only to literally change his mind on the way to the airport. On the same day we learn of Eric Belanger, the centerman who had been told he had a deal in place with the Washington Capitals, and had been hanging on for almost seven weeks as the Caps pursued a trade that never happened (believed to be a deal involving Vancouver ironically enough.) How do these things happen in this day and age? Is it just dishonesty at the highest level or is it simply a matter of putting the cart before the horse and offering promises which cant be delivered on?

For Foley this casts him in a bad light, as he had given the Lions his word, which now we know doesn’t mean much. For Belanger its a little different, he was the victim, or so it would appear. The Capitals kept him dangling for a good part of the summer and never got the promise fulfilled. In the meantime Belanger, who would have signed a $1.85  million dollar a year deal, instead has had to settled for $1 million less.

This is not the first time something like this has transpired with the Capitals. Back a few years ago, Michal Nylander had committed to signing in Edmonton and was ready to sign a contract when out of the blue he switched gears and instead headed to Washington. Was there malice? Did the Capitals deliberately poach Nylander away? Did Nylanders agent (ironically Mike Gillis) just find a place willing to offer a bigger payday? We don’t fully know the answer, but it seems this is happening more and more as time goes on in pro sports.

Ricky Foley and the Washington Capitals both need to look at the last week and ask themselves what went wrong. The Caps are an organization on the rise and many pundits feel them capable of taking it all this year, and this leaves a black mark to the outsider. Can they really be trusted?

Same goes for Foley, his word amounts to very little it would seem. Is this the image he wants to portray? I’m not certain, but in this whacky world of contracts it is strange how the one which should be ironclad, a person’s word, is the one thing which needs the most negotiations.