Meszaros: It's a new chapter in my life
Andrej Meszaros didn't want to get too deeply into why things didn't work out with the Senators. He said he has "lots of respect for the Ottawa organization" and doesn't have any hard feelings. Asked if it was simply a matter of money that caused the contract dispute that put the restricted free agent on the market, Meszaros also spoke of the length of contract.
Tampa Bay, which traded Friday night for the 22-year-old blue-liner and gave up defensemen Filip Kuba, Alex Picard, and a 2009 first-round draft pick, signed Meszaros Saturday to a six-year, $24-million deal He will make $2.5-million next season; $3.25-million in 2009-10; $4-million in 2010-11 and 2011-12; $4.75-million in 2012-13; and $5.5-million in 2013-14.
"I wanted a long-term deal, and Tampa Bay, they wanted to give it to me," Meszaros said by phone from his native Slovakia.
"I wanted to stay in Ottawa but it didn't work out.Now I'm really excited to go to Tampa and play. I've got lots of respect for the Ottawa organization. I really appreciate Tampa Bay had interest in me. Now, it's a new chapter in my life. I'm going to do my best to play hard and try to win a Stanley Cup."
Meszaros, the Senators' first-round pick (23rd overall) in 2004, said he is best at seeing the ice, has a good shot and will be able to help on the power play, where he had six goals last season. He said he knows expectations will be high given what the Lightning gave up for him and that he will be expected to pick up a lot of the slack left by the trade of Dan Boyle.
"I wouldn't say it's pressure," Meszaros said, "but it's a great challenge. I like challenges, and hopefully I'm going to do good and try to play hard and win every game."
As for the commitment shown him by Tampa Bay, Meszaros, who has not missed a game in three seasons with Ottawa, seemed humbled.
"I was surprised they gave up that much for me," he said of the Lightning. "They gave up some good players. I really appreciate that. I'm excited and happy to be in Tampa. Now it's a great challenge for me to step up and play as hard as I can."