For some reason the staff at Amalie Arena apparently hasn’t figured out we’ve bugged their office yet. Even after the insider stuff we published last year about Brayden Point’s contract negotiation they haven’t found the mics. Not only that, we were able to sneak in a camera as well. They’re good at hockey, but horrible at counterespionage.
We were able to listen and watch Julien BriseBois and his staff prepare for the draft and free agency this year. Trust me, 99% of it is super boring. Phone calls and endless yammering about stats, analytics, contract terms, clauses, ways to get around those clauses, and finances. So much talk about finances.
There was a brief moment of excitement though. On Thursday, Mr. BriseBois met privately with Steven Stamkos. We have the recording.*
What comes next is a transcription of what happened in the office on Thursday night.**
It’s Julien BriseBois’ office at Amalie Arena. It’s a large office, roughly 800 square feet, but sparsely decorated. In fact, there is just a desk with an executive chair on one side and two comfortable looking chairs facing the desk. The only other object in the room is a Peleton bike that sits in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water. Mr. BriseBois sits at his desk typing away on his laptop computer. His cell phone buzzes on the desk. He looks at it briefly and then ignores it.
The door opens. Steven Stamkos strides in carrying the Stanley Cup. Stamkos is wearing an expensive looking linen t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. His long blonde hair peeks out from underneath a “Champagne Campaign” hat and his eyes are hidden behind large sunglasses.
Stamkos: Jules! My, man. How is it going?
Mr. BriseBois: Steven, how are….
Stamkos: Oh no. You know what we agreed on if we ever won a Stanley Cup while I was here.
Mr. BriseBois: (looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable) Do I really have to?
Stamkos: A deal is a deal.
Mr. BriseBois: Uhhh. Ok. Greetings Captain Stamkos, Bringer of Glory, Scorer of Goals, Leader of Men, Stanley Cup Champion.
(Stamkos bows, which is awkward when holding a large chalice. He then places it lovingly in one chair and flops down into the other.)
Stamkos: Whoa! That’s even better than I thought it would be. I promise, that’s the last time you have to do that. So what can I do for you?
Mr. BriseBois: Well. As you know, free agency is coming up...didn’t you just have surgery? Should you be carrying that around?
Stamkos: Oh yeah, no big deal. You know I heal quickly. Like Wolverine. Doc said it’s ok. He even had it in the operation room. I think he washed his hands in it before the surgery.
Mr. BriseBois: Ok. Whatever. Like I said, free agency is coming up and we have a bit of a cap situation.
Stamkos: Yeah, darn shame about it not going up. I’m not worried though. You’re a smart guy. I know you have a plan. Looking forward to a repeat.
(Door flies open violently. A shirtless Pat Maroon bursts into the room.)
Maroon: Did someone say repeat? Big Rig is here for that. Mr. Back-to-Back wants to be Mr. Three-peat. And he wants to do it in Tampa, baby! WHOOOOOO!
(He high-fives Stamkos, kisses the Cup,spins on his bare feet and heads back out of the room, slamming the door. If there were pictures on the wall they would have rattled.)
Mr. BriseBois: I really had no idea he was like that when I signed him.
Stamkos: I know. Isn’t it great? I want to be like him when I grow up.
Mr. BriseBois: You’re only two years younger than he is.
Stamkos: Really? You’re right. I’m 30. Married. With a kid. When did I get old?
Mr. BriseBois: Look, it happens to all of us. I wanted to talk to you today about your contract.
Stamkos: My contract? It’s not renegotiation time is it? Time flies and all that, but I’m pretty sure we’re still in 2020. (A hurricane forms briefly over the channel, six dolphins are immediately lifted into the air and dropped into the swimming pool at the Marriott Waterside. The storm dissipates and the sun comes out). Yup, it’s still 2020.
Mr. BriseBois: No. It’s not time to talk about an extension. I want to talk about your No Movement Clause.
Stamkos: My what? My N-M-C? Why would we want to talk about that? No one trades the captain of a Stanley Cup team two weeks after he wins a Stanley Cup.
Mr. BriseBois: You’re right. I don’t want to trade you, but I want to make sure I have every option available to me in order to get under the cap.
Stamkos: I thought that’s why you were talking to TJ the other day. Didn’t he tell you it was ok to trade him?
Mr. BriseBois: He did. There have been some...setbacks.
Stamkos: Too much money, right?
Mr. BriseBois: ………
Stamkos: It’s too much money. What makes you think some team would take on my salary even if I do wave my beloved clause.
Mr. BriseBois: Because you can still score 40 goals a year. It’s not like you’re 39 years old, either. You still have plenty of years left and teams will pay for that. Based on the 345 times you lifted the Stanley Cup over your head during the boat parade I would say your core isn’t bothering you too much.
Stamkos: The healing effects of adrenaline, pure joy, and Bud Light.
(Door swings open quietly. A forlorn Alex Volkov steps into the office.)
Volkov: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was the cafeteria. I’ll leave you alone, I guess. Unless, you know, you don’t mind if I stand quietly in the corner. I don’t really know anyone in Tampa, and it’s kind of lonely. So it’s nice to be near friends.
Mr. BriseBoise: Sure, Alex. Whatever.
(Volkov stands quietly by the door.)
Mr. BriseBois: OK. Steven, where were we?
Stamkos: You were telling me how hard your job was and how Mr. Yzerman really boned you over by signing all of these No Trade Clauses and then peaced out on you right before the cap situation blew up in your face.
Mr. BriseBois: What? I didn’t say that.
Stamkos: No but you were thinking it, right? C’mon. You can be honest with me. I’m the Captain.
Mr. BriseBois: Ok, maybe a little. But I understand it. It’s part of being the GM in Florida, right? Yeah, we can get y’all to sign for less because of the taxes, but we gotta give those clauses to you so you feel a little secure. So that we can’t just ship you off to Canada where your contract loses 30% of its value because of the higher cost of living and taxes.
Stamkos: No man, I get it. Shoot, if you hadn’t given me one of those things, I’d be making Johnny Tavares money down here right now and you’d really be screwed.
Mr. BriseBois: Which brings me back to my point. I don’t have any deal in place, but the internet is saying that Vegas may be interested in you if they don’t sign Alex Pietrangelo.
Stamkos: Vegas? I got married in Vegas.
Mr. BriseBois: You did?
Stamkos: Nahhh, but you didn’t know, did you? You really don’t know much about me do you? What’s my middle name?
Mr. BriseBois: Ummm, Fred?
Stamkos: Nope! Man, I love this city. No one digging into your private life. The GM doesn’t know your middle name, I can go wherever I want and not get hassled that much. I am a private mystery. I am Captain Enigma!
Mr. BriseBois: Can we get back to the topic. Would you be willing to waive your no move clause if Vegas is interested?
Stamkos: On one condition.
Mr. BriseBois: Really? What’s that condition?
Stamkos: Vic has to come with me.
Mr. BriseBois: Excuse me. Who?
Stamkos: Vic. The Big Swede! The Viking Legend! Victor Hedman. My best friend in the world. If I go to Vegas, he goes to Vegas.
Mr. BriseBois: (obviously taken aback) I...I...I...can’t do that. They can’t afford that. It would be too much money. I don’t even know if Ottawa could do that. (types on his computer) Oh no they could do that. And still wouldn’t be at the cap floor.
Stamkos: Ok. That bums me out. Vic and I in Vegas would be legandary. If you can’t trade Vic and me together then you have to include his dog with the trade.
Mr. BriseBois: His dog?
Stamkos: Yeah, his dog. Harry. Harry Hedman. Best dog ever. Since you told me a secret, I’ll tell you a secret. He’s better than my dog. We can work out a joint custody thing. Part of the season in Tampa, part in Vegas.
Mr. BriseBois: I can’t trade a dog.
Stamkos: Deals off then. I’m not waving my clause. Clause. Claaauuusse. Clausssssse. That word is really weird when you keep saying it, isn’t it?
Mr. BriseBois: Let’s get back on topic. I know your NMC is important, I really do. That’s why I wouldn’t ask you to wave it to dump you on some team like Detroit or Ottawa or Buffalo. Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax, either. So you don’t lose any value. And, other than food, the cost of living is a little cheaper out there as well.
Stamkos: Wait, restaurants are more expensive? The Captain likes his food. That could be a deal breaker, man.
Mr. BriseBois: Well, they’re not that much more expensive. Really….an honestly, the quality out there might be a little better. They have a Momofuku. Tampa doesn’t have a Momofuku. That’s an upgrade right….
Door flies open. Nikita Kucherov enters wearing what appears to be the same outfit that he was wearing at the Stanley Cup celebration. It’s hard to tell if he’s slept since then. He stumbles over to the Stanley Cup and hugs it as if it was a favorite nephew. He then staggers to Mr. BriseBois and embraces him awkwardly before kissing him on the cheek.
Nikita Kucherov: STANLEY CUP, BAYYYYYYBEEEEE!
(Kucherov heads for the door as Mr. BriseBois sits, stunned. Kucherov spots Volkov standing quietly by the door.)
Kucherov: Volky, baby! You’re coming with me. Let’s goooooooooo.
(Volkov lights up like a puppy on adoption day. The two Russians exit.)
Mr. BriseBois: (softly to himself) I’ve got to start locking that door. (to Stamkos) Ok. So back to Vegas. Not only is Vegas a great town, they’re a great team. They were one series away from making it to the final. If they had you on the team it might have made the difference. Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, you’d fit right in.
Stamkos: Look, Mr. BriseBois. With all due respect, and I really mean it, because you’re a hell of a GM and you and Mr. VInk are always up front with us. Here’s the deal. I meant what I said the other day at Raymond James. I don’t really remember it, but I know I meant it.
I came to this city as an 18-year-old kid and those guys put the weight of the world on me. I was supposed to be this “franchise savior” on a team that had Vinny Lecavalier and Marty freakin’ St. Louis on it already.
I survived that clown show and did alright. Sure the rehabs from the broken leg, the knee, and then this stupid core injury thing sucked. So did all of the playoff losses. But you know what, the fans and you guys always stuck by me. That’s why I re-signed a couple of years ago.
Imagine if I went through all of this in Toronto? They would have ran me out of town years ago. They would have made up some story about me skipping practice to eat tacos or something. Sure there was some grumbling among the fans down here, but I really felt like they never gave up on me. You saw how happy they were last week.
Vegas seems to be a great hockey town, too. That drumline is awesome. And a chance to see Barry Manilow live? C’mon. That’s awesome. But it’s not Tampa. There aren’t any tesla coils in that building. It took awhile, but now you got grown-ass folks that have been Lightning fans their entire life. It’s not just some guy from Boston who moved down here and stopped being a Bruins fan. These folks have only been Lightning fans.
Did you see all of those banners and signs in town over the last few months? You weren’t here in 2008. Yeah, there may have been a “Seen Stamkos” bumper sticker here and there, but nothing like this. People actually recognize me when I go out now, even though I shaved that awesome beard. This is a real hockey town.
I want to be here. I want to finish my career here. So, again, with all do respect, no I won’t wave my no move clause. You’re just going to have to figure something else out.
Mr. BriseBois: (sighs deeply) Alright. I guess I can figure something out.
Stamkos: But you better not trade Vic.
Mr. BriseBois: Why would…
Stamkos: Or his dog.
Stamkos picks up the Stanley Cup and instinctively raises it above his head. He lowers it and walks out of the office. Mr. BriseBois loosens his tie and sighs again. He gets up from his desk and walks over to the Peleton. He slowly climbs on and starts to pedal.
*There is no recording. None of this is true. If there was an opposite of the Han Solo “it’s all true” gif, it would be this post. It’s basically an exercise in procrastination as I don’t want to write about other stuff. It’s all based on a random Tweet. Nothing good comes from basing stuff on Tweets.
** Again. I must stress that this did not happen. I have never seen Julien BriseBois’ office. I’ve never spoken to him or Steven Stamkos. They are not like this in real life. This is all in fun.