Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 09/13/13 at 05:56 AM ET
The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek believes that the recent re-signings of players like Daniel Cleary and Nazem Kadri, combined with last year's relatively painless re-signings of training camp "hold-outs" like P.K. Subban and the relatively few numbers of holdouts this year illustrate the fact that extended holdouts--which used to be the one and only way for high-profile players to earn the big bucks they seek from reluctant rights-holders--just aren't the way of the contract-negotiating CBA beast anymore:
Cody Hodgson re-upped last Wednesday with the Buffalo Sabres, there remain just a handful of unsigned players out there as NHL training camps opened with the first on-ice workouts Thursday.
Derek Stepan hasn’t come to terms with the New York Rangers. Also, the Leafs and Ottawa Senators are negotiating hard with Cody Franson and Jared Cowan, respectively, and the St. Louis Blues appear headed toward a showdown with their best player, Alex Pietrangelo.
But that’s it. Compare that to how things were in the 1990s, when it seemed every team had two or three annual contract skirmishes.
No Alexei Yashin negotiation ever went smoothly. Players would routinely hold out, miss big chunks of the season, never get their acts together and, frequently, it created irreparable rifts with their organizations. It got so bad eventually, the NHL got it written into the CBA: a deal was a deal. Players had to play out their contracts; renegotiating a deal because you weren’t happy with it any more was not an option.
Pietrangelo’s negotiations are interesting because they mirror Drew Doughty’s with the Los Angeles Kings two years ago. Pietrangelo is from the same draft class as Doughty, but took two extra years to make it to the NHL. So while Doughty has five years under his belt, Pietrangelo has just three, meaning he is still in the entry-level system and doesn’t have rights to salary arbitration. It is the one time in the current agreement where the negotiating leverage belongs to the team.
But it is an interesting and welcome phenomenon – how few of these disputes actually develop any more. Now, more than ever, the focus in September is on training camps and player performance, not salary negotiations and performance bonuses.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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