It’s pretty clear that after Day One of the Free Agency Frenzy of 2007, one that kicked off with word that the NHL Salary Cap would be at $50 million and the salary floor at about $35 million, NHL owners have learned absolutely nothing about how to do business.
It started off before the period began with the deal Philadelphia made with Nashville to lock up the free agents that Nashville wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t want to re-sign. Philadelphia acquired them and then locked them up for obscene, market-shaking contracts.
Philadelphia then followed that up with kicking things off today signing away now former Sabres star centerman Daniel Briere to an eight-year $52 million dollar deal. Let me break this down for you, that’s an average of 6.5 million per year, except that this year alone Briere will make $10 million dollars.
$10 MILLION DOLLARS FOR ONE YEAR!
Since that stupidity wasn’t enough, the New York Rangers, formerly the team known as fiscal irresponsibility until the Briere/Timonen/Hartnell signings by Philadelphia, then decided to take back the crown they had stolen from them by Ed Snider. They signed former Devils centerman Scott Gomez and former Sabres centerman/folk hero Chris Drury to separate deals that average out to $7 million dollars a season. Gomez’s contract also has the fun stipulation of paying him $10 million dollars in the first year. Let me reiterate that one more time.
$10 MILLION DOLLARS FOR ONE YEAR!
The lack of responsibility on the part of the owners here is both stunning and unsurprising. It’s stunning because we’re only two seasons removed from a lockout that has done more to harm the NHL than it has to help it. A lockout where the owners wouldn’t settle until there was “cost certainty” and the players wanted to make sure they could still make their money. Fans wanted there to be hockey at reasonable prices and the kind of hockey that wouldn’t make even the most die-hard of fans cry at the boredom.
It appears that in the long run, that even though the Players Association most certainly got raked over the coals by the Owners at first, they are definitely the winners now with contracts like these.
Did the Flyers crazy spending spur the Rangers to reply in kind? The Rangers, a team desperate for defensive help who then goes and picks up two of the three premiere centermen at costs that shake the foundation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement they signed not even three years ago. The Flyers insanity is nothing new, but just the fact that they were able to rook over the Predators once again to be able to do it is stunning in and of itself.
The Flyers signing of Timonen shook the market up for defensemen quite obviously as Brian Rafalski, formerly of the Devils, signed with Detroit for 5 years and $30 million dollars. Scott Hannan, formerly of the Sharks, signs with Colorado for four years and $18 million. Many of you might even be asking, “Who the hell is Scott Hannan?!”
And now late news has the Avalanche signing Ryan Smyth, who weepily left Edmonton when he was traded to the New York Islanders and left fans counting down the days to Canada Day and the start of the free agency period praying he’d come back home to Canada and Edmonton…signed for 5 years and $31 million dollars.
I mean, seriously, holy crap! It’s amazing to me that these owners are now fully bought into whatever Gary Bettman is feeding them, that the league is financially solvent and apparently making money hand over fist enough to keep upping the salary cap and floor and allow them to spend like drunken fools with asinine contracts with ridiculous financial costs and yearly investment. I’m speechless at all this – so much so that I don’t have the muster to comment on Nashville’s Craig Leipold running away from Jim Balsillie and into the arms of Boots Del Biaggio and eventually back to an NHL graveyard in Kansas City.
We’ve already seen all these big names come off the board, and we’ve still got Paul Kariya out there waiting to move and Peter Forsberg left wondering if his foot will be good enough to loan out his oft-injured self out to another
And you thought the NHL off-season was boring.