Thursday, July 9, 2009


1) Incompetence is the only word we can find for two recent instances where NHL clubs have bungled a strait forward CBA rule to their possible detriments. One in Chicago and one in Philadelphia in the past week could cost their respective teams millions. First in Chicago GM Dale Tallon apparently screwed up big time when he was lax in his sending out 'Qualifying offers to his RFA's. This is usually a formality. It allows teams to retain players they intend to either re-sign or trade. It allows teams to minimally be compensated should one of those players be signed to an offer sheet by an enemy club. Failing to send a Qualifying offer automatically makes the player become an UFA, free to sign elsewhere without compensation.

2) Chicago thought it had tendered qualifying offers to several key players lasts week, including Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson and Troy Brouwer, however an investigation was underway to see if the qualifying offers were filed correctly. A source says the players involved didn't receive the necessary notification of the offers. According to Chicago general manager Dale Tallon the qualifying offers were mailed to the players in time, on June 29th, but says because of the July 1 holiday (Canada day), some of the players didn't receive them in time. Other sources tell us that 'qualifying offers are not supposed to be mailed'. Most teams send them via fax and well before the deadline.We were told that some of the qualifying offers were not faxed to the agents. A big no-no!

3) From there things got very murky. The NHLPA, as is their job, filed a grievance on the behalf of the players and the NHL/Chicago didn't attempt to fight them. However, not but a few days later and before the issue ever gained any traction all the players involved signed contracts. Seems odd, as they could potentially have been deemed UFA and in line for big pay days? However, some of the deals were for nice pay increases. Some might even say for more than what most would have expected in the current cap flat lining situation and with Chicago already up against the cap max. Perhaps the league/NHLPA didn't feel this situation was one they wanted to create a huge issue. The players/their agents also must have signed off on this and the situation has evaporated, but certainly the BlackHawk upper brass/owners can't be happy with how cavalierly Tallon handled the qualifying offer situation! You can be sure he's been put on notice for this apparent incompetence!

4) Meanwhile the other possible instance of GM incompetence is in Philadelphia. The Flyers and Paul Holmgren made the big splash at the entry draft when they acquired Chris Pronger from the Anaheim Ducks. The former Norris Trophy winner didn't come cheaply so it was in the Flyers best interest to try to lock up Pronger beyond the one year 6.5 million left on his current deal. So it was met with great fan fair when signed he signed a seven-year contract extension with the team worth $35 million. The contract includes a no-movement clause, meaning Pronger, 34, is likely to wrap up his time in the NHL as a member of the Flyers. The contract was for 7 years, but the bulk of the money is on the first 4 years. with the additional years basically to make the cap hit more palatable

5) The potential problem might arise with the fact that Pronger's contract will amount to an "over 35" deal. meaning that regardless of performance, retirement, etc, he will have to count against the salary cap until the deal is completed. Could Holmgren not known this. Sure Pronger is 34 right now, but Pronger turns 35 this fall and the deal kicks in next summer. The spirit of the provision is that it governs contracts that kick in when a player turns 35, not when it is signed. So it would seem the Flyers and Holmgren might have been too cute by half by signing Pronger to such a long term deal. So the Flyers could be stuck with a 5 million dollar cap hit for a player not in their lineup? A long-term injury exception, then would be the only way for Pronger to still retire and not impact the Flyers' ability to spend. (Think Mogilny in Jersey)Philadelphia would be able to claim a long-term injury exemption for his salary, keep it on the books, and then spend over the cap to fill out the roster, etc. Still we can't imagine that's what they were thinking about when they signed this deal. Again, like in Chicago, upper management can't be too happy with Mr. Holmgren right now. Incompetence, for sure!

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