St. Louis Blues fans prepared ourselves for this moment. Nevertheless, there is a strong divide about the loss of their captain, similar to another famous exit from the city.
St. Louis Cardinals fans might be upset with the comparison, due to a difference in status from a leaguewide perspective. However, the way former St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo left, there are comparisons to be made to another famous exit from the city.
It’s not an exact apples to apples comparison, but this feels a lot like it did when Albert Pujols left St. Louis for the west coast. Pujols got the bigger number he wanted and took off with some understanding and others being deeply hurt or furious with the hometown team.
Similarly, Pietrangelo has also headed west, to the Vegas Golden Knights. He got the bigger number associated with his contract, in a way, and now fans in Petro’s former hometown are left in a state of confusion.
If we are all honest, we knew this moment would come. The longer no extension was worked out, it seemed as though Pietrangelo was on the way out and then when the team signed former Boston defender Torey Krug, that was the nail in the coffin.
With Pietrangelo not putting pen to paper with Vegas right then, there was this glimmer of hope the Blues would pull off a last minute miracle. It took a full three days to make it official, but Pietrangelo dashed those hopes by signing with Vegas.
Now, we are all left to wonder what the truth is. We’ve heard Doug Armstrong’s version and if Pietrangelo holds true to character, we likely won’t get much from him until years down the road.
However, this just feels like it could have all been avoided. There was a similar feeling to the Pujols situation.
Some fans felt the Cardinals or Blues should have just given their star whatever they wanted. Keeping those players happy was the only thing that mattered to those fans.
Nevermind that giving those players what they wanted would have put both franchises in a difficult position. It would not have been impossible to afford either of those contracts, but it would have made it very difficult to afford anyone else that was not locked up for the long term.
Additionally, with both situations, it seems as though things became personal. That’s understandable given the fact everyone involved is a human being, but there was just a lack of awareness in the grand sense.
For Pujols, there are tons of mitigating factors, but overall he got the bigger number offered from the Anaheim Angels. However, when you factor in cost of living and taxes, the contracts almost evened out. Yet, it came down to feeling disrespected as Pujols would later put it.
You have to figure that’s what happened with Pietrangelo. He’s actually not earning any more money from Vegas.
Pietrangelo is getting $8.8 million per season for seven years. That’s a total of $61.6 million.
The last confirmed Blues offer was for $7.7 million for eight years. That’s a total of $61.6 million.
That doesn’t take into account the rumors that the Blues upped their final offer to $8 million per season, or possibly more. So, in a sense, Pietrangelo left $2.4 million on the table, or more, just to say he was getting $1.1 million more per season.
One can argue that it’s $61.6 million for one less year of punishment on his body. Some will also point out Vegas’ lack of state income tax.
Just like Pujols, Pietrangelo is going to a place with a much higher cost of living. Going simply by the median cost of homes in Nevada vs. Missouri, it costs $135,200 more in Nevada. That’s just a median, so in even a high-dollar home will cost more or you will get less for the same price.
In the end, it seemed to boil down to the Blues unwillingness to give a no movement clause or big-time signing bonuses. If we believe the reports, Armstrong supposedly caved on both of those at the end, but that was apparently too late.
Armstrong told reporters he offered a partial no-movement clause, which would have covered the very beginning and very end of the contract. Those are the key years to worry about anyway.
Armstrong was also willing to make more of the contract based on bonuses. Neither of those things were something he had ever given another player, so Pietrangelo should have perked up.
Instead, he wanted what he earned. He wanted to be wined and dined.
Pietrangelo wanted to go to other cities, visit with teams in person and get a feel of the situation. That put the Blues in a spot where they could not wait and come up empty handed. So, they jumped on Krug and saved money.
Maybe Pietrangelo wanted to cause a bidding war and figured the blues would jump right in on that to keep him. Perhaps his agent convinced him to stand firm on things that shouldn’t be deal breakers.
We will never know. All we have now is our own perception.
My personal perception is that Pietrangelo got screwed by his agent. I feel like his agent convinced him that they were going to get as close to Roman Josi‘s contract as possible and also get all those sweeteners like the clause and bonuses. Anything less was unacceptable.
I think he thought the Blues would just wait and be grateful for the opportunity to give him more money. However, once Pietrangelo took the eighth year off the table by waiting until free agency to begin, the Blues really lost their bargaining power.
It was highly unlikely that they would be able to go as high as $8.8 million, so the money must have been that important to Pietrangelo the same as it was important to Pujols. They can say it was about respect, but it’s a failure to recognize that your need for “respect” puts people out of jobs.
The Golden Knights had to trade Nate Schmidt and might have to make further deals, stirring up their locker room before Pietrangelo ever puts on a jersey. The Blues were going to have to make at least one and likely two deals to afford Pietrangelo’s demands too.
There is a part of me that feels bad for Pietrangelo. If the pandemic never happened, the Blues likely would have easily given him a Josi-like contract and not thought much about it.
The pandemic did happen. The NHL salary cap is not going up for years, so tough decisions had to be made.
Pietrangelo was not willing to bend to keep his Stanley Cup team together. Now, he has to hope that he does not end up making the wrong decision and not contending.
He’s also giving up revered status, the same way Pujols did. There will always be haters, but Pietrangelo had reached another level of support by becoming the first captain to help the Blues win a Stanley Cup. As Jeremy Rutherford pointed out, there might have been a statue with his name on it had he retired in St. Louis.
Now he goes to a different, though quite good, fan base. They don’t have the same attachment, so if Petro doesn’t perform out of the gate, the criticism comes very quickly.
Surprisingly, though I am a bigger hockey fan than baseball, I am less taken aback by Pietrangelo’s decision. Nevertheless, it feels the same.
It feels like he wanted to be courted and handed the keys to the kingdom and Armstrong was not willing to go that far. The no movement thing just seems silly that a player has more power than anyone in the organization, but that’s my take.
As long as Petro never wins another Stanley Cup, I bear him no ill will. He can enjoy his money.