The Colorado Avalanche are notorious for offering cheap contracts to their star players, and Ryan O'Reilly is making a savvy career move by rejecting the Avs' overtures.
According to the Denver Post's Adrian Dater:
While the Avs were optimistic right after the lockout ended that they could sign O’Reilly and my sources said he would not be traded, things have changed and it appears a virtual certainty O’Reilly will be traded now.
Dater goes on to discuss, in detail, the way Colorado has repeatedly insulted some of its best players with low-ball contracts, including Ian Laperriere, who, "couldn’t even get his phone calls returned by the organization when he didn’t take the offer but wanted to keep negotiating."
O'Reilly played phenomenally last year for Colorado, scoring 55 points to lead the team.
This is a young man on his way up, not the other way around, and according to CBS Denver, the Avs have offered him a two-year deal worth $7 million and a five-year deal worth $17 million.
Sorry, but that's not enough money for a burgeoning star—especially one who, by all accounts, is a hard-working kid who gives everything he's got when he's on the ice.
According to the Denver Post's Mike Chambers, defenseman Shane O'Brien says, "Everyone loves him in here. Great guy, hard worker. He’s one of my close personal friends and I love him like a little brother."
Chambers then adds, "nobody in the locker room has talked negatively about O’Reilly and his holdout."
If that doesn't tell you something about what kind of respect his teammates have for his work ethic and talent, nothing will.
While $3 million-plus per year may seem like plenty of money to play hockey for folks like us, the truth is that O'Reilly is worth more than that on the open market. Plenty of teams would be willing to pay him more, and nobody should begrudge the young man for wanting to get paid what he's worth.
Colorado hasn't been a contender since 2008. The team is currently dead last in the Western Conference and desperately needs offensive help.
O'Reilly would give the Avs a huge boost, but thanks to some cheap tactics by the team's front office, Colorado will likely continue suffering through another miserable season.
If I were in O'Reilly's situation, with youth and talent on my side, I'd make the same decision he's making. Professional athletes have a limited shelf life, and it's imperative they get as much money while they're playing as they can.
Don't hate the man for refusing to take a low-ball contract. He's doing what's right for him, since it's obvious Colorado doesn't give a lick about his personal security and doesn't see fit to reward him for his future efforts.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78