Sakic says there was ‘never any animosity’ between Avs and O’Reilly

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“There was never any animosity between us this whole time. Any of the perceived animosity came from the outside.”

That was Joe Sakic today, to the Denver Post, after the Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract, avoiding a potentially nasty arbitration hearing in the process.

Sakic, Colorado’s executive VP of hockey ops, also said the Avs want to keep O’Reilly “long-term” and that “we’ll keep working at it and see what happens.”

The “perceived animosity” remark was an interesting one, though — particularly after what O’Reilly’s agent, Pat Morris, said in June, when he went on the radio and suggested the Avs were playing with fire in their negotiations with his client.

Now, granted, RFA negotiations are often contentious, with both sides holding leverage. But O’Reilly’s last negotiation with the Avs got “ugly,” too. And while Sakic wasn’t around for that one, he still wasn’t able to get the 23-year-old signed to a long-term deal this time around.

If anything, O’Reilly’s new two-year deal provides time, and maybe a bit of goodwill. He’ll be eligible to sign a long-term extension next summer, something both sides have said they want, if only for a difference in opinion on compensation.