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You Stay Classy Anaheim

Anaheim Head coach Bruce Boudreau implied over the weekend that the Ducks feel someone got to Justin Schultz, causing him to change his mind about joining their organization.
Anaheim Head coach Bruce Boudreau implied over the weekend that the Ducks feel someone got to Justin Schultz, causing him to change his mind about joining their organization.

GM Bob Murray Admits Badger's Schultz Will Test Free Agency, Challenges His Character

On Saturday the Anaheim Ducks held their annual 'Select-A-Seat' event for season ticket holders. The event is an open house for people to change their season ticket package, add seats, upgrade seats, etc. In addition to that, they also hosted a Q & A session with members of the Ducks staff and a few players.

Thanks to our friends at the SBN Ducks blog 'Anaheim Calling' we've been able to acquire some quotes from General Manager Bob Murray, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, and captain Ryan Getzlaf on Wisconsin All-American defenseman Justin Schultz.

If you haven't been following the situation, Schultz who recently completed his junior season in Madison can become an NHL free agent this summer, and bypass signing with Anaheim who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft since it's been four June's since he was picked.

Notably upset with the possibility of losing their top prospect, Murray, Boudreau, and Getzlaf all weighed in on the Schulz topic. Murray, the Ducks General Manager even went as far as calling Schultz's character into question.

In order to become a free agent, Schultz had to withdraw from school at the end of the spring semester which he did in late May according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. After that, the Ducks have 30 days of exclusive negotiating rights which will expire on June 21st.

When that deadline expires, Schultz will be free to negotiate with the other 29 NHL clubs in the league. The first day he can sign a free agent contract is July 1st. The max entry level base salary that Schultz can earn is $925,000 no matter where he signs. Regardless of when he signs and who it's with, he'll be limited to a two year contract based on the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

Admittedly the post from 'Anaheim Calling' is a bit confusing, as it involves different people taking quotes from different Q & A sessions at the Save-A-Seat event. In fact, Murray kind of contradicts himself in talking about Schultz to different people.

In one of the sessions, Murray claims that the team made Schultz an offer last week, and will do so again on the June 21st deadline. That's odd, since the Ducks should have offered Schultz the max right out of the gates. When asked what the team can do to try and sign Schultz at this point, Murray noted they had famed NHL defenseman and Ducks front office exec Scott Niedermayer call him last week.

That's when Murray decided he needed to publicly challenge Schultz's character.

"We just hope he's a man of his word and lives up to his word. At day's end you hope his character prevails in this," Murray said.

Good job Bob. Not that you guys had any prayer of signing Justin at this point, but I'm sure publicly challenging his character will do wonders for your chances.

In a different conversation, Murray admitted that Schultz has told the team he will not sign with them. That likely explains his classless public comments about the Badger blue-liner living up to his word.

"Justin Schultz will not be an Anaheim Duck, He's informed us that he wishes to explore talks with the 29 other clubs, and that's his right under the current CBA."

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf also had some interesting comments in regards to Schultz. Getzlaf bitterly implied that Schultz isn't making many friends in the league right now.

"I've never seen him play or anything but I hear he's pretty good. He better be really good because a lot of players, not just on this team, don't like the way he's handling this situation," Getzlaf said. "We want guys who want to be here and be a part of our team. No one wants to deal with that sh... uh stuff in the locker room."

Schultz had an opportunity this winter to go watch the Ducks when they were in Chicago to play the Blackhawks since it's a short jaunt from Madison. While there, head coach Bruce Boudreau told him he would not send him to the minors if he signs with the club.

"I don't know what the heck happened there. We were in Chicago and we still weren't playing great and I talked to the kid straight up and said we could use you right now on the big club. We won't send you to the Crunch (Ducks AHL team), as soon as you're through with Wisconsin we'll get you down there on the ice," Boudreau said.

"The kid looked me right in the eye and said I can't wait coach, it's what I've always wanted."

Boudreau also alluded to the possibility of tampering, which would seem confirm Michael Russo's report that the Ducks are prepared to file tampering charges against whatever team Schultz settles on when free agency opens.

"We also told him since we were playing him now it would move him one year closer to making millions of dollars. The kid seemed really excited and it seemed like a done deal when all of a sudden something dramatically changed," Boudreau noted. "Someone got to the kid, it seems. I don't know exactly what happened but there's something fishy in Denmark."

While it's certainly understandable for the members of the Ducks organization to be frustrated that Schultz will be signing elsewhere, I think it's a bit of a stretch to think that there are teams tampering with Schultz. It's obvious to me that at some point when Schultz sat down with his family and advisors, they decided since he's just months from free agency, it makes sense to pick the best situation for him.

Murray admitted that Schultz is well within his rights in the CBA of becoming a free agent and he's not the first to do so. Players like Bill Sweatt, Blake Wheeler, Jason Gregoire, and Blake Kessel have all done the same. So save me the bitter tampering talk, it seems clear that this is simply a case of a 21 year old changing his mind because he feels he has better opportunities elsewhere.

While that is unfortunate for the Ducks, it's hard to fault a kid for exploring his options and choosing the best situation for his future.

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