Clerical Errors a Bit Bigger Than Getting Caught Photocopying Your Butt

With the news now that Kris Versteeg has been signed by the Chicago Blackhawks to a contract worth more than $9 million over 3 seasons and a full year prior to his original entry level contract coming to an end, one has to wonder what's been going on in NHL offices around the league.

This is the third similar instance in almost as many days. Just recently, the Blackhawks were forced to re-sign Cam Barker (D), who was likely not in the immediate plans contract wise. Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia Flyers inked Chris Pronger to a seven year extension, not realizing that every single one of those years count as a cap hit to the Flyers teams should Pronger leave prior to the conclusion of the seventh year. Of course Edmonton Oiler fans are not unfamiliar to such controversy, with the current status of Dany Heatley, who is... well is Dany Heatley.
All in all, one has to wonder how team presidents, GM's and those in charge of professional multi-billion dollar NHL franchises are interviewing candidates for positions of such importance. It's not like the secretary got caught photocopying his butt and sending out the copies in a memo around the office for a good laugh. These are mistakes that are literally handcuffing each respective team during the summer and possibly for years to come.

I just picture an interview in the Flyers head office as they try to fill the capologist position on the team.

Paul Holmgren: "Glad you could make it in, how did you hear about this position opening?"

Excited Candidate: "Your team website has this job listed as open, so I figured I'd give it a shot."

Holmgren: "Ok. Odd. We'll ummm we'll have to look into that. But I guess you're here so, can you tell me a bit about your experience?"

Candidate: "Sure. I work hard, I love the Flyers and I really like numbers."

Holmgren:"You're good with numbers hey? That's helpful in todays league. What part do you like best?"

Candidate: "I love the fact that you can use numbers to solve crimes."

Holmgren: "I'm sorry?"

Candidate:" Haven't you seen that guy from Harold and Kumar? He's amazing!"

Holmgren: "Ok... what did you say you're name was again?"

Candidate:"Daniel Carcillo"

Are you kidding me? Are we really to expect that there is more going into hiring these positions at the Blackhawks and Flyers league offices? How can clearly defined rules and regulations like not mailing out qualifying offers by July 1st, when you're not even supposed to send qualifying offers in the mail or misinterpreting the age guidelines connected to a contract extension for Chris Pronger who will clearly be 35 when his new contract kicks in be so badly mistaken? These mistakes have literally handcuffed these organizations for years and for what? Because someone simply didn't think enough to clarify the rules.

What really gets me is the Chicago situation that was reported on TSN just days ago:

the National Hockey League Players Association has filed a grievance over the Chicago Blackhawks mishandling of a number of its qualifying offers and intends to argue the players affected by the mishap, who remain unsigned, should be ruled unrestricted free agents.

Ok, so you go out and make a splash on Marian Hossa. Forget for a second, that Partick Kane, Jonathan Toewes, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and others are up for contract extensions in the next two years. Now you're up and coming stars like Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg have to be signed a full year early at more than $3 million plus per year?

The question now becomes, who do you give away for almost nothing at the end of next season if you're Chicago?

As Oiler fans, we can feel secure that Tambellini didn't misinterpret the rules, but that doesn't mean the Dany Heatley watch hasn't become frustrating. First Ottawa didn't know the deadline on the $4 million bonus. Then they claim not to have known that Heatley hadn't given them permission to negotiate with Edmonton. In short, not the Oilers fault.

That said, the longer this situation drags itself out, the more the Edmonton Oilers start to look just plain silly. It gives the fans the impression that they were satisfied to stand pat with the roster as is, since there has been no indication, none what so ever, that the Oilers have any plans to leave this soap opera and use a different avenue to improve this roster without Dany Heatley. As fans, we know without doubt, that clearly this roster needs improvement.

The NHL has become a more complicated place to negotiate deals and fit in players. No movement clauses, salary caps, longer term contracts and entry level vs mid level vs veteran status players. This is no longer the time to be hiring friends and former players as team managers who have literally no experience in these situations and can bacldy hurt a teams ability to move forward with one simple clerical error.

It'll be a sad day if the Oilers, who have enough trouble attracting players, end up losing some thanks to our loyalty to the "the boys on the bus". It's yet to happen from what I can tell, but I can only hope Tambellini doesn't follow that path. I'm not going to lie, that the Dany Heatley saga has me a bit concerned.


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