Eric Staal Contract Negotiations Inside Story

Eric Staal was traded by the Carolina Hurricanes to the New York Rangers Sunday. The fans of the Hurricanes had mixed reactions.

Here’s a bit of information that gives insight to what went on behind the scenes.

Hurricanes GM Ron Francis met with the media during the second period intermission in Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Blues to field questions from the media about the Staal trade. Francis told the media that the conversations started intensifying on Saturday and they were able to pull the trigger on the deal on Sunday. Francis said, “We’ve had multiple good discussions going back to last summer.”

Interestingly Francis also said, “We couldn’t get comfortable on a contract term. You can’t lose an asset like that for nothing. It’s too important to the franchise moving forward.”

Later in the interview Francis reiterated that the term of the deal was the sticking point. “We talked more in generalities than specifics, but I think for me it was more, at the stage he was in his career and the stage we are as a franchise and what we’re trying to build, it was difficult for us to get comfortable with a longer term is what it came down to.”

Francis also said Staal’s parameters were fair and he probably won’t have a hard time getting it from someone on July 1, but that it “just didn’t fit with where we’re going.”

Staal’s Agent’s Perspective

I spoke with Rick Curran, the agent for Eric Staal Sunday night. As expected, Curran was not about to reveal anything significant about what had gone on between he and the team on behalf of Staal. However, I mentioned the above statement that Francis made to the media about not being able to get comfortable on the contract term, and Curran became a bit more forthcoming. Curran said,

“The term that the team offered didn’t make sense. After that there really were no lengthy discussions on the contract.”

The impression I got from talking with Curran was that there was a term length the Hurricanes put on the table that was not acceptable at all, and that afterwards there were no further real negotiations that took place. This might explain why there was nothing much mentioned by either side throughout most of the season regarding Staal’s contract or any ongoing conversations – there simply wasn’t anything to mention.

To be clear, Curran did not say they never talked again after it was determined that the term did not make sense for Staal. He did say that there were no lengthy discussions regarding the contract.


I think that Francis knows where it is that he wants the Hurricanes to go, and that he very likely did throw out a contract term that didn’t make sense for Staal. I also think that once Curran knew that Francis was not going to move on the contract term, there wasn’t much else for them to talk about.

I think Staal has known this for some time, and that it very likely influenced his play this season with Carolina. While he is very much a professional, certainly knowing that his time was limited had to be a big weight to carry.

By the way Hurricanes fans, it doesn’t sound at all like there is any hope for the captain to return. Francis said Staal will probably get his parameters somewhere, but that they don’t fit with where the team is going.

Francis has a plan, and he’s sticking to it.