When you’re a prospect of a high-profile team, life can be hard if expectations aren’t met. If you’re a guy like Bill Sweatt who gets traded from the high-profile team that drafted you in Chicago to one in a pressure-cooker city like Toronto, life can be even tougher if you’ve got just a short time to get signed there. It can also be made tougher when Toronto declines to sign you in a high-profile manner.
For Bill Sweatt, signing with the Canucks was a quick way to escape the glare of spurning the Maple Leafs, but for now, he’s happy to explain his side of the story directly as well as the fun he’s having on Twitter getting berated by Leafs fans for “spurning” their team.
It’s not that Sweatt didn’t want to be a Maple Leaf. It’s that he never had a chance. Not a real one, he explained. Toronto offered him a max three-year, entry level deal but pulled it off the table just a few days later.
“We told them we wanted to see what was going to happen with the team,” Sweatt said. “They had an overload of defencemen. We didn’t know what they were going to do with [Tomas] Kaberle. They still don’t know what they’re going to do.
“We didn’t want to rush into it and then see that all of a sudden they end up trading one of their defencemen for four left wingers.
“Maybe they thought I was sending a message that I didn’t want to be a part of their team which I wasn’t. It was more or less looking out for my future. I didn’t want to sign and get screwed over.
“It didn’t go smoothly, but that’s life.”
If you’re looking for a guy that’s got a good head on his shoulders, Bill Sweatt seems to make for a pretty good example. Sweatt didn’t really have to be hamstrung by being Leafs property and his concerns were more than valid. After all, if you’re traded into a potentially bad situation and you still have a contract to work out that makes everyone’s life more difficult.
Turning down the Leafs may have caused Sweatt problems on Twitter for a while, but in the end he’s made a move that he feels is best for his career. It’s amazing to see how Tomas Kaberle’s seemingly always in flux status with the Leafs managed to play a role in Sweatt’s dealing with Toronto.
It’s not to say that Toronto has bungled the affair with Kaberle, but it seems that Kaberle has been a road block to making progress in other areas as well. Sweatt isn’t a major prospect (he was a second round pick of Chicago) but he’s still a guy with useful potential NHL upside. All things will hash themselves out, of course, but if Sweatt finds a way to emerge in a great way for Vancouver, fans in Toronto will turn their anger away from Sweatt and towards Leafs management and Brian Burke.
(Photo: Claus Andersson – Getty Images)