That's not how I read it at all

Having just posted my thoughts on tonight's Rich Hammond post, I find that I wasn't the only one. Here's Surly and Scribe:

Lombardi And Drew Doughty’s Agent Set The Parameters On His Deal Two Weeks Ago? That Sounds Familiar, Doesn’t It? " S U R L Y & S C R I B E L.A. Kings Hockey Blog

On July 28, we told you the following about Drew Doughty’s contract status:

Just heard from our source minutes ago. Are you excited? I am excited. The L.A. Kings and Drew Doughty may have an agreement in principle on a long-term deal that may no longer have a NMC provision as a stumbling block. I am told there is also a "back up" 5 year deal in place. Everyone chatted via conference call and it ended well with a happy Drew. The devil is always in the details so this is not done and I expect both sides will continue to feed the media the work in progress lines, as quite bluntly they should, until the contract is signed. It could take a while still to finish it. Let’s hope that’s only days (and not weeks) away.

Counting today, July 28 was 14 days ago…or 2 weeks ago. From Rich Hammond today:

There have been no new discussions in the past two weeks. The Kings have a long-term offer on the table, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the issue extend into late August, or perhaps even into September. It’s worth noting that Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, also represented Evgeni Nabokov(notes) when, in 2002, Nabokov held out before signing a contract with the San Jose Sharks (and then-GM Lombardi) in late October. As for the current Doughty negotiations, Lombardi said today, "I think it’s fair to say that in the last conversation, we set the parameters, as to where we feel his contract should be. We talked about a number of scenarios, and I guess now it’s their move. They never really responded."

So, their last discussion was 2 weeks ago…check. It was about a long-term deal…another check.

That's not news.

According to Lombardi, "we" (referring to Dean Lombardi and Doughty’s agents) set the "parameters" 2 weeks ago as to where both sides feel his contract should be

Lombardi does not say that "we" refers to Meehan, and he does not say that "both sides" agreed to the parameters. If you look back at Lombardi's past comments, "we" usually means Lombardi and other people who work for Lombardi. "The Kings organization."

and they talked about a number of scenarios (all within said parameters no doubt) in this phone conference…parameters…in other words, there was an agreement in principle as to where the contract numbers should fall [...] That sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Where have we heard that before? Nah, we are just real good guessers.

This is in reference to a post a couple of weeks ago in which Surly and Scribe responded to criticism from another blogger -- not me, and I don't know who it was -- that their Doughty source was -- okay, I don't know what the other blogger said, but I assume it wasn't a compliment.

Here's a snippet of that Surly/Scribe post:

A Shortcut To Thinking Is Not Thinking " S U R L Y & S C R I B E L.A. Kings Hockey Blog

Since there is some friction from certain media types (or, more accurately, one) about our Drew Doughty news and since this comes from someone who I respected (and still do) but who has probably never read the site, let’s get a few things straight: A deal in principle (having handled hundreds before they came to fruition or needed further tweaking, which I am not sure this person can say for himself) is not the same thing as a "done deal." I chose my words carefully for that reason.

Here's the thing though. The whole point of saying there's a "deal in principle" is to make it sound like there's a deal, leaving out the part that a "deal in principle" simply means that the two parties have the intent to complete a deal in the future. Some people will define "deal in principle" to mean that the broad strokes of a future agreement have been laid out, but the details have yet to be negotiated. Which means there is no deal, because there is no deal until there is nothing left to negotiate and both parties sign.

The implication -- to your average fans -- of saying that Doughty and the Kings have a deal "in principle" is that (the fan will imagine) the salary and term have been agreed upon and there's just a bunch of pesky secretarial details to be ironed out. But the main reason this is misleading is that the form of the standard player contract (SPC) is provided by the CBA and may not be altered. All the parties do is provide the salary in each year, the signing bonus (if any), the deferred salary (if any), and the presence or absence of a no-move or no-trade clause, when the player is eligible for one. Everything else is boilerplate. This is why players are able to lock in binding contracts within seconds of 9am on 7/1. Because once you agree on money and term, it's quite easy to be done.

That's also why if the deal isn't signed, it's also not "close." If a deal isn't signed, it means that the sides are in disagreement on money, term or NTC/NMCs.

Now, to the one who claims the source is not legitimate, how is it that we are breaking news hours, days and sometimes over a week before anyone else [...]? Do you think we are just really good "guessers"?

I still don't know who he's referring to here. Maybe you guys do. I read Surly & Scribe every time a new post pops up in Google Reader, and I don't have any recollection of them "breaking" stories. I'm not saying they didn't. But to answer their rhetorical question, yeah, I think most people who report rumors are just guessing.

For example, it doesn't take a genius to "guess" that Nicolas Deslauriers is going to be getting an ELC in the days before 6/1/2011, because (1) he's great and (2) he has to get a contract by that date or the Kings lose his rights. So it's easy to say, "I've heard Deslauriers is about to be signed." Without any sources at all, I put it a different way at the time: Deslauriers will be signed before 6/1. Not because I heard something. But because I know what the rules are.

Similarly, it doesn't take a genius to "guess" that Doughty and the Kings have a contract "in principle." Because that phrase is meaningless. Since the three things we know are that there is no deal, they've been negotiating, and Doughty is Kings' property no matter what, it's easy to say that "a deal is coming", "soon," "imminently," they're "close," whatever. Because soon and/or close are in the eye of the beholder. The same goes for "we told you Lombardi had Doughty's offer"... that doesn't mean anything either. They're negotiating. By definition, there's an offer on the table from either side, which either side is welcome to call up and accept at any point.

Some rumors are just made up and have no basis in reality. Others are just common sense repackaged as inside information. In this case, I really didn't read Rich Hammond's post as in any way optimistic that a deal was close with a few details to be worked out. I would characterize Hammond's post as falling decidedly on the side of "things are not close and don't be surprised if they aren't close any time soon." And I would characterize the S&S post as falling decidedly (with disclaimers, of course) on the side of "good things are happening you heard it here first."

I see no reason to accept Hammond's pessimism as validation of Surly & Scribe's optimism.