While the 22-year-old defenceman told Sun Media Sunday he wanted to stay in Ottawa, Murray said Meszaros' agent Ritch Winter complained that Jason Smith wasn't going to be a good enough partner for his client.
After dealing Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday in exchange for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and a No. 1 draft pick, Murray was still steaming yesterday.
"I'm certainly satisfied with the deal at the end of the day, but I'm not happy with the way it came down," said Murray. "I'm not happy they asked me for $4.5 (million) all the way through, they threatened an offer sheet, which they had going on Friday. The choice I had after talking to (owner Eugene Melnyk) was: 'Do we overpay (to keep) this guy?'
"As much as it has been written he wanted to be in Ottawa ... he didn't want to be in Ottawa. He wanted to move on. I was told his (defensive) partner wouldn't be good enough for him and lots of other stuff. So we just decided at the end that if we could get value, we'd just make the deal and that would be it."
Murray confirmed a Sun Media report he offered Meszaros a five-year deal at $3.5- million per season. He also "offered a little higher than that" at the last minute. Meszaros accepted a six-year, $24-million deal from the Bolts."I was told at the last minute if I offered $4 million that maybe (Winter) could take it to his client. He signed for $4 million in one day with Tampa, but I was also assured an offer sheet was coming and I'm pretty sure there was," said Murray. "If it was an offer sheet we were going to be short on the blue line. Just as important was the fact that I felt it would have a tremendous effect on the rest of the NHL when you pay Andrej Meszaros ($5.2) million or more. I called (Tampa GM) Brian Lawton and I said, 'If you want this player, there are two options: Make the offer sheet or this is the trade I want to make with you.' It took all day to agree to do this."
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA