The Idea of Collusion Is Just Silly

As has been reported on numerous news sites and specifically by Bruce Garrioch of Sun Media, "a high-profile agent told Sun Media yesterday that the current environment for free agents is "all being orchestrated" by the NHL and the plan all along was to make these players sit to see if they’re willing to sign for less money."

We're now a full month into free agency and while traditionally most of the big name tickets find whatver respective new homes they'll be playing hockey; this year seems different. Players like Alex Tanguay, Petr Sykora, Manny Fernandez, Marcus Nilson, Dennis Seidenberg, Dominic Moore, Rhett Warrener, Miroslav Satan, Mathieu Schneider, Robert Lang and Brendan Shanahan have yet to sign with any teams and the word on the street is that the offers for these players are lower, in fact; much lower than expected by the remaining teams interested.

What strikes me as odd is that fact that this anonymous source goes on to say “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bunch of guys sitting around like this looking for work. This is something teams have been looking at for a while." Really? Sitting around looking for work? I think that can be said of Dany Heatley, but c'mon...

Let's forget for a second that convincing 30 NHL teams to work together for the betterment of the NHL, its salaries and ultimately Gary Bettman and 30 NHL owners trying to succeed in some behind the scenes agenda, is a long shot and thus ignoring the desire of 30 GM's to better their respective teams; these players are not looking for work. There is plenty of it out there.

Players like Tanguay, Sykora, Satan, Schneider, Lang and Shanahan, just to name a few, have options. Even if it isn't with a number of the teams that have limited salary cap room or which they'd like to play. There are 8-10 teams that could fit in players of the caliber listed and would be more than interested ie. Tampa, NYI, Nashville, Phoenix, Columbus, Dallas or Atlanta. Furthermore, any one of these second tier superstars could land a job in the KHL, Europe or many other leagues that will pay them handsomely. And that's what this is all about -- players who are so-called "desperate" for jobs, being paid handsomely.

For a number of these players, the ability or shall we say willingness to "lower" themselves to signing a 1 or 2 year contract for a bit less money (see Biron's contract), or playing with a team that might not be their number one choice (notice most if not all of the teams with cap room are not considered the number one locations for hockey players), but offers fair value is the reason they now find themselves unemployed. Not because the teams have decided to teach some skilled players a lesson.

Case in point, the inability of Alex Tanguay (who the Oilers expressed some interest in) to find a home. We have it on good authority that Phoenix was almost a done deal that only fell apart last minute thanks to a salary cap concern. If the rumored $1.2 million for one year for Tanguay is true (which it isn't), why would that be a concern? It seems only reasonable to think the Coyotes could use Tanguay, could fit in $1.2 million on a team with $14 million in space and would like the idea of a player with a name in a city that can't do much to attract fans. In fact I can name probably ten teams at that price point that would be calling Tanguay even if they didn't need him.

The lack of players being signed isn't a conspiracy, it's an inconvenient truth about their attractiveness to 30 NHL teams for the dollars they are asking. And those must be high dollars. Players like Kotalik at $3 million, Dererk Morris at $3.3 million, Tuomo Ruutu at $3.8 million, Travis Zajac $3.9 million or even Kyle Brodziak at $1.15 million to a lesser extent (but comparable to the rumoured Tanguay salary offer) all being signed within the last two weeks suggest much more to me than teams can't find the money to pay players. Who would you rather have, Brodziak at $1.15 or Tangauy at $1.2?

Stuff like this just makes me laugh... then it makes me mad as an Oiler fan because we can't even sign players when we offer more than they're worth.


Zubov, the first of my theory to happen. His signing in the KHL shows there are places to play if a player doesn't want to "sit" around looking or waiting for work.

Best of luck to him, he was a great defensman in the NHL.

July 30, 2009 at 5:27 PM comment-delete

anyone suggesting collusion is an idiot in this day and age ... everything gets out ...

July 30, 2009 at 7:20 PM comment-delete

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