When the Wild signed Martin Havlat on July 1st, fans across the state were immediately excited. Havlat made it clear that he too was excited to be here. He also used his Twitter account to raise questions about the situation he left in Chi town. Rumors began to surface about what the problem may have been. Then, Dave Tallon was replaced by his assistant GM and Havlat again began Tweeting about the situation.
Today, both sides are one the record.
Here is Marty's side at TSN.
Here is the Hawks side via Puck Daddy on 670 The Score.
Basically, Marty says that it was all political, the Hawks say Havlat has no idea what he's talking about. The whole thing has caused almost every hockey mind to come down on one side or the other. One Wild blog, Wild Puck Banter asks Havlat to let it go, and focus on the future. No matter what team they root for, fans across the NHL have made their opinions clear, and have latched on to the latest pseudo-conspiracy in the deadest of dead seasons for hockey news.
Here is my take.
Martin Havlat has every right to speak his mind. While he is not an American nor Canadian citizen, both countries still allow for a freedom of speech. Havlat has not said anything illegal, has not made any threats, and has called on fans of the Blackhawks to make it clear they are unhappy in the only way they can. By not buying tickets.
I do not like loud mouthed athletes. I detest them. Latrell Sprewell, Randy Moss, Terrel Owens, Marian Gaborik... if they don't have something constructive to say, I wish they would just shut their yaps.
Havlat was not, and is not, being a loud mouthed athlete. He went through the media to express what he feels is a bad situation in Chicago, and make it clear that while he wanted to go back to Chicago, the politics, not his ability to play, made the decision for him to leave. Fans in Chicago deserve to hear all sides of the matter, and they can make the choice on their own. Had Havlat simply kept his mouth shut and moved on to Minnesota without expressing his side of the story, the fans could (and likely would) have thought it was a money decision. Havlat has the right to share his side, and in his own way, protect his image.
I hope Marty looks forward rather than back as well. I have no doubt that when camp starts, his mind will be no where else, and he will be 100% committed to the Wild. Right now, it is July, and he has every right to make his point clear. He has done so. I respect him for that. If he had a gripe and had simply sat on it, I think I would have respected him less.
Should he start to gripe about money, style of play, or other on-ice affecting team matters, I will call him on it. As of right now, I support his right to speak and to protest what he feels is a situation that wronged him, and will likely wrong his former teammates and friends. Anything less would have been insulting.
Good on you, Martin Havlat. Speak your mind. When the puck is dropped, shut your mouth.
Glad you are in Iron Range Red, my friend.