I follow sports quite a bit, and probably should post more about them. I’m going to look into that in the future, but let me set the stage by talking about Jacob Trouba, a defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, a restricted free agent, publicly asking the Winnipeg Jets to trade his rights. Obviously, a number of fans are upset about this. Jets fans will obviously see this as a betrayal, while other fans will note that he seems to be holding out for reasons that aren’t really valid.
I, personally, don’t really have any problem with the request … except for the fact that it was made public. Trouba, from what I’ve read, has decided that he’s better as and wants to play as a right defenseman and not a left defenseman. On the Jets, there are two defensemen on the right side who are both seen as being better and as having more seniority than him. Thus, if they stay on the right side and he wants to stay on the right side, he’ll be relegated to the third pairing, and get the least amount of minutes. But the coaches aren’t likely to ask the two ahead of him to change sides, and are willing to ask him to do that. So his choices are to play on the right side and be on the third pairing, or move to the left side which he doesn’t want to do.
Now, if he was indeed actually under contract, then the reasonable reply to him would be to suck it up and play the way the team wants him to play. But he’s not under contract. While as a restricted free agent his options are … restricted, he still doesn’t actually have a contract to play for the Jets. If he really feels that the team, as constructed, isn’t one that he wants to play for and he’s willing to sit out until he can get a deal with a team that he feels fits him better, what’s the problem with that? This is the sort of thing that contract negotiations and contracts and employment are designed for.
Now, you can argue that his reasons don’t make sense. because lots of players have changed sides and positions and been very successful, so he really has no reason not to make the move other than that he doesn’t want to try, which has led to claims that he’s being “lazy”. But, again, this works if he’s under contract. As he isn’t, why shouldn’t he take any steps that he’s willing to take to try to get a contract in a situation that’s as ideal to him as possible? He’s not bailing on the team, but is just pointing out that the team doesn’t seem to be a good fit for him right now and he’s not willing to sign a contract with a team that isn’t a good fit, no matter how much control they have over his rights. They can keep his rights, but they can’t make him sign a contract with them if he doesn’t think it’s a good deal for him.
So the only issue I have is that they made it public, which puts the team under pressure and lowers the market value. However, I suspect that they did this not to put pressure on the Jets, but instead to encourage offer sheets from other teams. That being said, doing so publicly might well encourage the Jets to match the offer sheets just to stick it to him, so again it doesn’t seem like a great way to make that work.
It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out, and if he really means this or if it’s a negotiating tactic.