As a fan, this always sucks. Always.
We are not idiots — we understand there are a ton of reasons we don’t want to consider that go into choosing to sign with a different team when a player reaches free agency. Obviously there’s the money. We’d be fat-faced liars if we said we’d turn down, say, $6.5 million over 8 years in favor of $4 million over three years. Yes, rationally, even the lesser amount is more than enough money to live quite comfortably, but the bigger contract is, well, that much more comfy. Again, we’re not dumb. Also, there are considerations about the personnel on teams, the geography, familial pressures, future plans, blah blah blah. But all we see, as fans, is that the player who’s signed with someone else has rejected our team. And rejected us. And it sucks. So with that caveat, we present IPB’s take on the Rafalski and Gomez signings.
As full-fledged members of PaulieMartinNation, we’ve been counting on Raffie signing elsewhere since the end of the season. With two big RFA’s to ink to long-term deals, we felt it was necessary to avoid paying top-dollar to Raffie, a moderately offensive, moderately speedy d-man/PP-quarterback. But then Raffie, through his agent, said he’d be willing to sign for less to stay with the team. Since there’s a precedence for key players to sign for less to stay with the team (Marty Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Jay Pandolfo, and others), we stupidly believed it was true. It wasn’t. If you’d asked before that article was printed how we felt about Rafalski, we would certainly have said we’d wouldn’t be too upset to see him go. But since that article was printed, we’d be lying if we didn’t say we don’t feel slighted. A lot of players say they’ll sign for less, then don’t. But factor in the history of the Devils, and in light of the money and fame sacrificed by some of the organization’s biggest and most important players, and you’ve got a recipe for some bitter, bitter fans.