Westcott locked in

September 12, 2006

In a move that restores a little bit of my faith in the professional athlete, Duvie Westcott has signed a three year extension to stay with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, the extension worth $4.8 million in total, will keep Duvie in a Blue Jackets sweater through the 2009-10 season.

I unleashed a mini-rant on Mrs. EOB last night while watching Monday Night Football on how I think that free agency has killed the sports fan (if you haven’t figured out by now, I’m a bit prone to hyperbole.)  I can’t understand why Deion Branch would willingly leave franchise that has a recent history of success, to the tune of three Super Bowl victories in five years.  If I were a professional athlete, I’d like to think that I’d be happy that someone was paying me to play a game and that I’d stay with a winner given the chance.  Duvie’s desicion to re-up with his team reaffirms my belief that this is a strong character player who could be in the running for a team captaincy in the next few years.

Westcott would be eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season, and given his track record as a reliable defenseman and a plus player (on a bad team) it stands to reason that he could receive a nice payday with another team next summer if he wanted to. 

“I really like Columbus,” Westcott said. “It’s the only (NHL) team I’ve played for, and I really didn’t want to play for anyone else. If they wanted to have me back, I was more than willing to work with them to get it done.”

Some will say that Duvie is missing his chance to cash in.  And they will be right.  But what Duvie won’t miss is the opportunity to continue to be a hometown hero to fans.  Cal Ripken played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles.  Though Baltimore did win a World Series early in his career, most years the Orioles were in the middle to bottom of the American League East.  I’m not comparing Westcott to Ripken in terms of stats, but I bring it up because the type of athlete who is willing to stay with a team through thick and thin is increasingly in short supply.  Of course no one wants to play with a loser, but if the belief is there that the team can improve why not stick it out and do your best?  I’m not a fan of the hired gun player (Bill Guerin, I’m thinking of you), and I’m happy to see that Duvie is not that kind of person.

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