There are a litany of words that could be used to describe the contract negotiations between Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets – tense and strained come to mind – but “civil” probably doesn’t come up very often. Apparently the recently resumed talks have been a lot less heated, however, as team president John Davidson told various outlets including Sportsnet.
“It had been the first time there’s been discussions in awhile,” Davidson said after a meeting of the NHL’s Board of Governors. “They were very polite, well-mannered.”
One interesting wrinkle is that the often-discussed concept of merely settling for a two-year “bridge” deal isn’t the only possibility being considered, according to Davidson’s accounts. More than anything else, he emphasizes a fair contract for both sides.
“That’s what we’re about, that’s what our ownership’s about, we don’t want to lowball anybody,” Davidson said. “We don’t believe in that. We just want to do the right thing.”
Davidson said that Boone Jenner and Nathan Horton’s injuries have no bearing on discussions, yet it’s difficult to believe that changing context hasn’t affected both sides. The Blue Jackets are in that much greater need for a scorer of Johansen’s caliber while the regular season (aka the time when Johansen starts really losing money) is rapidly approaching. (Also, plenty of RFA’s are signing, and those deals aren’t exactly boosting the 22-year-old’s leverage …)
This sometimes soap operatic situation makes it dangerous to make any overly optimistic predictions, but one of the other promising things Davidson said was that he didn’t believe that any ill will should carry over once a deal is reached.
For the first time in weeks, it’s easier to imagine an agreement actually happening, but for all we know there could be another blowup or two before anyone signs on the dotted lines.