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Big deal, little deal, no deal: Guentzel’s post-game comments about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh

Is what Jake Guentzel said a big deal after the game a big deal?

Carolina Hurricanes v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Jake Guentzel met with the media after his first game back in Pittsburgh as a visitor. This was the key quote.

The audio from the video:

“My intention was to stay. They just thought there was a better direction. It’s out of my hands. It’s not my choice.”

That’s gonna make some waves. On our famous but seldom used scale: “big deal, little deal, no deal”, where do these Guentzel comments rank?

The brutal way to look at it would be no big deal at all. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and all, words at this point don’t really matter that much when what is done has been done.

But that outlook is no fun, so let’s dig a little deeper.

Guentzel’s perspective and quote matches to what Kyle Dubas has publicly said. Dubas had no issue saying that he only initiated very limited contract extension, and nothing substantial happened on the front during the season. Even at the start of the season, there wasn’t much going on with Guentzel coming off summer ankle surgery. Here was our take Dubas’ thoughts on talking about the Guentzel contract situation from a press conference just before the regular season began.

There is no timeline or sense of urgency on Jake Guentzel’s contract to this point, all efforts from the player and team up to this point have been focused on Guentzel’s health and getting back to 100%. Dubas left the door open to Guentzel playing tomorrow, though he wasn’t saying either way if it would happen or not right away. Dubas is open to talking with Guentzel’s agent Ben Hankinson throughout the season and cited their excellent relationship to make it sound like when it’s time to approach contract talks that the two will have that conversation

Then the season came and the Pens weren’t proactive in getting any talks going. Later, Dubas cited the need to go a different direction by getting younger and not committing a big chunk of salary cap to Guentzel in his 30’s, which given his inactivity before and during the season show where his direction was trending all along.

Beyond that, the big deal shouldn’t be framed as who wanted what or how things went down compared to why the situation is the way it is.

Undoubtedly a big deal is the decision by Dubas to move on from Guentzel, which will be one call that could perhaps shape his tenure as Pittsburgh’s general manager among the most of any he makes.

Dubas has a seven year contract and the full faith and trust of ownership right now — but look at the stints of other recent Penguin GM’s: Ron Hextall only had two years, Jim Rutherford was here six, Ray Shero for eight. GM can be seen as a long-term job, but it isn’t always the case where a manager stays in that position a decade or longer any longer these days. Dubas himself was in the top seat in Toronto for five years. The decision about Guentzel was going to be a massive one, no matter which course he set.

At this point, thoughts can fracture as to what could or couldn’t have been done and whether the right or wrong call was made, but Guentzel got the chance on his way out to confirm what was already in sight during the lead up of this season - the Pens made the call about his future and chose to not make the effort to keep him around. Time will tell how it ends up working out for all parties, with the biggest deal to come about how Pittsburgh can reload in their efforts to build for the future.