Now that we're all a little more removed from the situation, things are becoming clearer (or more confusing depending on how you want to look at it). The start of the 2008-2009 NHL is just around the corner and pre-season games are in full swing. The Pittsburgh Penguins began their pre-season with 2 consecutive games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Malone's new team, so it's only normal for questions to be raised again, but the difference now is that Malone is doing some talking!
To begin by summing up Malone's thoughts on the whole deal - "No Love." That's the text message the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review received from him in late-June when talks were underway.
"To me, that's what I think," Malone said yesterday. "Being from (Pittsburgh), you have a lot of pride pulling that jersey on. To not get a serious offer was kind of weird. I just figured they had other plans. It was easier to move on then than if something was closer ... to happening."This is more of what I was expecting from Ryan, but I suppose everyone close to the situation would know it's best not to discuss anything with the media. I guess they feel it's safe to talk now that cooler heads prevail.
Malone told Rob Rossi yesterday prior to TB's 2nd pre-season game against the Penguins (Malone's 1st to play in) that he never wanted to leave Pittsburgh.
"I don't think Ray knows how much (playing for the Penguins) meant to (me) and the other guys there I have a good relationship with," Malone said. "I think they didn't want to go to a certain (salary) range, but they never really gave me a serious offer to consider. If they had me slotted in for whatever and I exceeded that, I guess that's my fault."Malone ended up getting a 7-year deal at $31.5 million signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so who knows what was offered by Pittsburgh or what Malone would have gladly accepted from them; however, the difference between the two was apparently great enough for Malone to leave as so suggested by his comment above.
"But it was a lot easier to leave because it wasn't a close negotiation."
And according to Barry Melrose, the Bolts new head coach, Malone was their #1 guy during free agency which is why they pushed so hard to sign him. I suppose he's getting the love from them that he was seeking (and maybe still is) from the Penguins and, perhaps, things may have turned out the best for all parties involved.
So I suppose, just as Rossi does, Malone may be surprised to know that Shero was and remains a big fan of his.
"I've got nothing but good things to say about Ryan Malone. He was a huge part of our team, helped us get to the Stanley Cup final. He left it out on the ice for us." - Ray Shero, Penguins GM
Whatever the case, it's time to move on and focus on the bright future ahead for both teams. And, yes, it was hard to picture a Penguins team without Ryan Malone at the time he signed with another team, but no one ever likes change and now that the season has started, I think we've made a step toward accepting it; at least I know I have.