by PuckStopsHere on 12/16/11 at 08:25 PM ET
The big news story of yesterday was that Chris Pronger will miss the remainder of the season due to post-concussion syndrome. Chris Pronger is a Philadelphia Flyer defenceman who is signed to a problematic contract. He is signed through the 2016/17 season with a salary cap hit of almost $5 million dollars a year. This is a 35+ contract which means that it stays on the Flyers books no matter what. If Pronger retires or is sent to the minors, this nearly $5 million salary cap stays with the Flyers. There is only one way out. Pronger has to be on the long term injured reserve.
The Philadelphia Flyers have a long history of placing essentially retired players on LTIR for years. Currently, Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts have been on the Flyers LTIR all season. Neither is expected to play in the NHL again. Laperriere missed all of last season on the LTIR as well. Darien Hatcher and Mike Rathje also spent significant time on LTIR when they were essentially retired. Rathje spent almost four years there.
The Flyers being a big market team are able to hide contracts of retiring players on LTIR. This isn’t to say that the players are not injured when they first got put there. The Flyers had no interest in ever bringing them back. They let the player retire while still paying him. The player usually got put on the LTIR when his salary cap hit became a problem and the extra cap room would help the team. It is very suspicious that several Flyers have had this happen to them and no other team has had a similar situation. This appears to be a salary cap management method.
In the October thread I wrote about this commenter steviesteve wrote:
If anyone wants more evidence of the Flyers using this exception to get out of crap contracts, just wait two or three seasons. Unless the CBA changes this loophole or the way 35+ contracts or buyouts are handled, I can guarantee right now that Chris Pronger will be LTIRed—not retired.
It looks like he is right. Chris Pronger looks like he will be retired to the LTIR instead of coming back and playing. Perhaps the injury came a little earlier than the Flyers hoped, but this is the way they will get out of his contract.
I argue that it goes against the spirit of the salary cap to keep an essentially retired player on the LTIR for seasons so that his salary cap hit won’t hurt the team. I argue that there should be a buyout forced for the player, at least for salary cap purposes. There should be a cost to the team for the contract. This should not be a way to get out of unwanted contracts. The Philadelphia Flyers have used this loophole many times already and seem poised to do so to get out of Chris Pronger’s salary hit, which would otherwise stay on their books until 2017.
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