Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Colaiacovo still available nearly month into free agency

Defenseman not ruling out return to Blues just yet

ST. LOUIS -- With each passing day without a contract, it appears that Carlo Colaiacovo's four-year stint with the Blues is over.

Nearly a month has passed by and the veteran is still feeling out offers on where he will be employed when the 2012-13 season rolls around. But the 29-year-old defenseman, who is still one of many notable unrestricted free agents that has not yet signed on with anyone, remains hopeful.

(Getty Images)
Carlo Colaiacovo said Blues are still his top choice
despite being a free agent for nearly a month.

There has been recent talk that Colaiacovo has received offers from multiple teams, he said nothing specific has been specifically presented to him, although he did admit that there's interest from "more than a handful of teams (without naming any)." And although the odds are against Colaiacovo's return to the Blues, he isn't ruling them out.

Not yet anyway.

"St. Louis is my first choice if the opportunity's there, but it's too unpredictable to really say if there's still an opportunity there or not," Colaiacovo said by phone from his Toronto home Monday. "Honestly, I don't know. I wish I had a better answer for you. From the last communication I had with them, if I was seriously considering moving on to let them know before I do just so that they have a say before I do it. I haven't presented them with that situation yet. I know they've tried to make improvements and do other things with players and have been unsuccessful in doing it and if the opportunity is still there for me to come back. But it's got to be the right fit for me and the right fit for them, too.

"I'm definitely not ruling it out. It's something that I still hope for. At the end of the day if it's not there and I have to move on, it's going to be sad because St. Louis is a place I'd love to call home for the next couple years because I really did enjoy my time there, the people there, the people involved in the organization and obviously with my teammates. I know they're going to be a great team in the years to come moving forward and I would love to still be a part of that. I'm absolutely not ruling it out at all. ... I've waited this long to make a decision, I'm going to wait as long as I have to right now to make sure that the decision I make is the right one for me.

Phoenix free agent Shane Doan is the most notable UFA remaining on the market but there are a number of players, Colaiacovo included as well as veteran center Jason Arnott, that have not found homes yet.

With the uncertainty of a collective bargaining agreement that is set to expire on Sept. 15, players that are still available are also faced with uncertainties themselves, including Colaiacovo.

"I think that's one of the huge factors of it, but I think the other big factor is there's been talk and there's been a lot of player movement this summer and there's still a lot of talk of player movement," Colaiacovo said. "I know the teams that are involved in those talks with player movement are teams that I've had discussions with. Given the fact that nobody really knows what's coming up in the CBA, nobody really knows what the cap number is going to be, (teams are) trying to make sure that they're flexible in the decision before they make it, too.

"It is what it is, but at the end of the day, I appreciate the fact that I'm being told the truth and appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity and right now, I think I'm represented by the right people I've been around a long time and have given me the right advice. I've listened to them through this whole process. I think through good faith and through confidence and obviously through patience, at the end of the day, whatever it is that I decide to do is something that I'm going to be happy with."

The Blues, coming off a stellar regular season with 109 points, have made it known that they would like to find a left-handed defenseman, preferably somebody that can play on the top pairing with Colaiacovo's close friend Alex Pietrangelo, either through free agency or trade. But so far, the price has been too high for free agents (Ryan Suter and Matt Carle to name a few) and potential deals for players rumored to be on the block (Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Yandle as examples) don't have any merit as the asking price appears to be too high.

And for Colaiacovo, who has 18 goals and 106 points in 259 career games with the Blues, he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to latch on quickly since he didn't make any commitment early in free agency.

"I'm not in a hurry to do anything right now is basically where I'm at," Colaiacovo said. "I'm stuck in a waiting period, waiting for the right time to commit for both sides. It's one of those things that it's been a little bit of a weird summer, it's part of the process but it hasn't changed my work ethic, my confidence and obviously the fun I've been having this summer.

"It's been a busy summer for me. Trying to plan for a wedding next year. I'm going about my business and at the same sense, I've got the right people taking care of my business. When the time comes, it will be the right fit for me."

Colaiacovo, who was acquired along with Alex Steen from Toronto for Lee Stempniak in 2008, is looking for a multi-year contract. His last deal with the Blues was for two years that he signed in the summer of 2010.

"Obviously the big thing for me is term," he said. "I'd like to find something that I can find myself settling into for a couple years. I wouldn't say teams are hesitant, but I think that's where teams are willing to wait it out for me to see what else opens up for me."

Colaiacovo holds the Blues close to his heart. This, after being a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the series against Los Angeles, which turned out to be the last game of the season for the Blues, as well as another game scratched late in the regular season. 
(Getty Images)
Carlo Colaiacovo (left) has received offers from "more than a handful of

Colaiacovo, who has never played in more than 67 games in a season for the Blues and has been an injury risk (concussions are the main culprits) at times throughout his career, hasn't talked directly to the team, specifically general manager Doug Armstrong, but said that the lines of communication are open.

"I know in talking to my agent that yes there has been direct line of communication," Colaiacovo said. "I don't know how much, but I know it has been there.

Colaiacovo is also receiving a vote of confidence from a number of his teammates here in St. Louis regarding a return, namely Pietrangelo, whom he had lunch with Monday in Toronto. The team hasn't closed the door on his return.

"I'm grateful for that and grateful an opportunity may still be there. I can't say yes or no right now whether or not it is still a possibility. It's more of a wish than anything right now. ... That's always the player's wish to get something done (early) so you're put in a better place in your mind. But sometimes good things happen to good people when you wait. That's the reality I'm facing right now. I wish things were different, but waiting this long doesn't change a thing. It would mean something if I had absolutely no teams contacting me, which that isn't the case. I have considerable interest in more than a handful of teams. Right now, I'm waiting for the dust to settle and pieces to fall into place before I make my decision."

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