by SENShobo on 01/15/09 at 05:48 PM ET
From Jim Kelley at SI,
My offer for the Lightning’s captain, best player, all-time leading scorer and franchise player who averaged 46 goals and 100 points the last two seasons?
Lecavalier may be the franchise in Tampa Bay, but ownership not only appears unable to afford him, it appears it may have even gone over the limit on the debit card for the operation it creatively financed last offseason. And as we’ve all learned since the owners’ lockout wrought its havoc on the game, if you want to move a big salary that you can’t afford now as well as for the life of an 11-year contract, your reward is pretty much limited to getting rid of the contract.
So, if I’m Bob Gainey or Pete Chiarelli or Ray Shero or Neil Smith’s replacement, here’s my offer: I’ll take that ridiculous 11-year $85 million dollar contract off your hands before you have to actually fund it. That’s it.
You get financial relief. You get cap relief. You get to face your family and friends and not have them continually laughing at your foolhardiness. And you get to start all over again at a price point you can afford….And you will be thanking me, because I will be doing you a favor.
Fresh, different, and more acurate than many would like to think.
Tampa Bay in particular has been best summed up as a kid in a candy store event this season. See something that looks sweet? Just grab it. And the one next to it. And the other one as well.
Get them home, start pigging out, and find out you grabbed black licorice? Better change your tastes.
Part of this escapade has been shown in the Lightning’s point total, currently giving them the fourth best shot at landing Tavares or Hedman, and hopefully developing them better than Stamkos, though I’m sure he’ll have some lessons to share with them. Other parts have been paid in nothing that compares to Lecavalier.
Lecavalier wanted to stay a Bolt for life, and every indication in his career has been that he loves the area, the team, and its fans. But it’s simply near-impossible to stare at an $85 million contract that will pay you until you’re 40 in this League and say ‘no, thank you.’
Finally, the League will slowly befgin to further adjust to the cap. Burke learned the lesson in Anaheim, having to gift-wrap Schneider and his massive salary to Anaheim to hold his ship under the cap, but largely it’s been a little too quietly free of consequences thus far. Ottawa is certainly taking it on the chin right now, being lambasted for long-term contracts to both Heatley and Spezza, as well as a Senator-for-life one to Alfredsson. Only the Spezza and Heatley contracts will carry them through what anyone expects to be a skill-increase as they step along to age 30, and end a couple years after. The salary, and cap hit, of Lecavalier, on the other hand, will keep going for nearly a decade past that. Even Alfredsson’s contract ends before he hits 40.
The $10 million owed to Lecavalier in each of the next SEVEN seasons? Plus he’s still owed another one at $8.5 million, with his $7.7 million cap hit continuing on for another trio of years afterwards? That’s a tough pill to swallow. Shedding salary any way they can as they have been, it looks as though Tampa’s throat might be feeling rather tight.
But then again, Schneider was relatively gift-wrapped because he wasn’t anywhere near a Lidstrom, Chara, or Weber. Lecavalier demands enough excitement and energy, along with the imaginations of the most storied hockey franchise in existence’s fans, and that may well force GMs’ hands a little earlier. No GM felt a need to pounce on Schneider, even as Atlanta probably wasn’t the only team that would accept him so nicely gift-wrapped. This time though, Lecavalier’s skills may not let the staring contest between GMs last all that long. The NHLPA and the League wouldn’t like the thought either, of a trade where Lecavalier looked worthless (despite the opposite being the most obvious truth), because it was not his skills being offered up so much as his contract pleading to be taken.
And it’s a shame, really, because the League needs to adapt fully to the cap. A year or two from now, the teams and GMs who didn’t clue in may well be in for the biggest open-ice hit of their existence. This League is reeling enough as it is, thank you, so class, please smarten up.
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