A Simple Game of Tag

It’s garnered quite a bit of attention recently, but the “tagging rule” has been utterly irrelevant in Chicago since the execution of the current NHL collective bargaining agreement.  So, what is it?

Essentially – taking the Blackhawks current situation – the “tagging rule” mandates that Stan Bowman and the Hawks “tag” certain expiring contracts in the amount of the new payouts before any extension may be reached.

In other words, the Hawks may not extend the contracts of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane unless the aggregate averaged annual amount of those contracts exceeds the combination of (a) the Hawks’ current payroll room and (b) the aggregate averaged amounts of any contracts which expire at year’s end, including those of Keith, Toews and Kane.

(Moreover, the date of December 1 is irrelevant to the situation involving extended players, as opposed to players signed in a year for play in that particular year.)

As an example, assume the Hawks have $500,000 in current payroll room (i.e., that the current year’s salary cap is $56,800,000 and the Hawks are/will be at $56,300,000 for player salaries – wishful thinking, to be sure) and $16,500,000 in expiring contracts, including those amounts currently paid to Keith, Toews and Kane.

In this hypothetical – I call it a hypothetical, because I don’t entirely trust on-line sources that purport to tell viewers each team’s payouts and cap situations – the Hawks may only extend the three to an aggregate annual averaged salary of no more than $17,000,000, the combination of the $500,000 of current payroll room and the $16,500,000 in expiring contracts. The $17,000,000 in payroll room and expiring contracts would, in this hypothetical, be “tagged” for purposes of other in-year transactions of this sort. Then, those “tagged” contracts may not be “tagged” and used as expiring contracts in this equation for a subsequent in-season transaction.

It all begs the question: if expiring contracts are “tagged,” does that mean that those contracts may not be extended?

The answer is “yes and no.” (Isn’t it always?) The mere act of “tagging” a player’s contract does not in and of itself mean that the player may not return to the team for the following season, but, for all practical purposes – especially in the Blackhawks’ case – it means that the player’s contract won’t be extended during the season.

If the contract was extended, more tagged payroll room would have to be created just as outlined above, and in a season where the “one goal” is winning a Stanley Cup, going to any great length to secure supporting contracts for next season doesn’t make much sense.

And, now deep thoughts…

Twelve days, six games, two provinces, a state: it’s no wonder they call it the “circus trip.” A very solid 2008-2009 circus trip seemed to catapult last year’s Hawks, but this trip will be much more difficult. The Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Sharks and Kings could all be said to significantly better this season than last, and the Ducks are no push-overs. Eight points would be a wildly successful trip.

Patrick Kane is quickly becoming a player capable of anything during any shift.

What was your favorite moment of the Andrew Ebbett era?

The Legend of Adam Burish seems to be growing quite well. Any game where the Hawks play flat (i.e., the Vancouver game), the first thing out of someone’s mouth is “This wouldn’t have happened if Burish was playing.” While Burish had one of the more memorable post-seasons of anyone wearing an Indian head, what people forget is how utterly useless he was for half of the regular season last year. (There’s hope for Tomas Kopecky just yet!) The Hawks played just as many flat games last year with a healthy Burish in the line-up.

Hypothetical question: If Dustin Byfuglien has as good a post-season as he did last year, is it still alright if he disappears for stretches in the regular season this year?

Our early season hypothetical involving the Red Wings claiming a waived Cristobal Huet certainly seems much more plausible these days – what with the Wings’ goaltending experiencing its typical midseason swoon. It’s what makes using the words “Chris Osgood” and “Hall of Fame” without “cleaning crew” seem wrong.

There’s been a lot of statistical analysis written on the interwebs about how the Maple Leafs aren’t as bad as their record indicates. After watching them up close, they may not be bottom of the Eastern Conference bad, but they still blow.

Let’s put a ruling out there. No more talking about next season until this season is over. We’re 19 games into this season. How about we wait and see how everything shakes out before we determine our lives aren’t worth living without the services of John Madden and Ben Eager?

The Atlantic Division is very close to becoming a ‘thing’. It’s still ridiculously early but at this point, all five teams would qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs. Though Nashville was 3 points away from giving the Central a clean sweep last year, no division has ever sent all five teams to the playoffs since the NHL expanded to six divisions.

Speaking of the Central, since the Predators 2-0 loss to the Hawks on October 24th, they’ve gone 8-2-0. You could chop off Barry Trotz’s undersized head from his overgrown shoulders and he’d grow another one within ten minutes … and Barry Trotz’s new head and old body would still squeak the Predators into the playoffs.

*On the Farm*

The IceHogs dropped another game to the Texas Stars, 3-1.  After Bracken Kearns got the Hogs on the board early with a power play tally, the Stars’ Warren Peters scored the equalizer 30 seconds later.  Seven minutes later, Peters scored his second goal of the game and that was all the Stars would need. 

Joseph Fallon, once again, got the start in goal and stopped 28 of 31 shots.  Brian Connelly and Mike Brennan got assists on the lone Rockford goal.

Shawn Lalonde was scoreless in Belleville’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa 67’s.  Lalonde was first shooter in the shootout and was denied.

Byron Froese had two assists and was the third star of the game in Everett’s 4-3 shootout win over the Kamloops Blazers.

Brandon Pirri was held in check in RPI’s 4-1 loss to Niagara.

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4 Responses to A Simple Game of Tag

  1. Dave Morris says:

    Thanks guys. Now I’m even more confused.

    In general.

    Prediction: Tom Kopecky bumps his head on the doorway of the airplane and channels Gordie Howe.

    Like that one, eh.

    BTW I watched the Stars-Detroit game last night. Alex Auld smoked the Wings. With Texas BBQ sauce. Except for Zetterberg.

    Just sayin’.

    Hawks need to snuff them there Flames t’nite.

  2. feyer says:

    BB: Great explanation! I have 1 more tag comment, then I promise I’ll move on. I show 12 players already contractually committed to the hawks for next season. Hossa, Sharp, Bolland, Steeger, Buff, Kopecky, Brouwer, Soupy, Seabs, Barker, Sopel, and Huet. That adds up to ~$42.5m in cap. This years cap is at $56.8m, so that leaves a difference of ~$14.3m + maybe $.5m (this year’s cap shortfall) for tagging purposes.

    How is Steeger’s head feeling? What affect will Kaner’s 21st birthday party have on his performance. When will Hossa play and on what line?

  3. Ozzzie19 says:

    In regards to tagging, in addition to the space mentioned above (which obviously isn’t enough for TKK), you can also add Bickells cap obligation, when Hosssa comes back. And if we put bolland on LTIR that would free up a little under $4M more in total. That would leave them enough space to sign TKK if they come in around the lower end of the estimates.

  4. BWV513 says:

    Two scribes, two different takes on the same game:

    Mike Kiley, “Blackhawks Confidential”:

    Giddy-up, Blackhawk fans. Take a deep breath. It’s only November.
    Conserve your energy. Get a blood pressure test. Calm yourselves.
    But, my goodness, this looks like a season that will last forever in your memories and perhaps never die in your minds. It’s hard to stay seated and stay sane.
    We have a lot to give thanks for with Thanksgiving on the horizon. God is a Blackhawks fan–again.
    There is no way not to feel giddy after this performance.

    Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune:

    Seeing Cristobal Huet make some big saves early and some incredible saves when the score was close, great.
    Seeing the Blackhawks score on a 5-on-3 advantage, great.
    Seeing Kris Versteeg come back from an injury to score twice, great. …
    But the Hawks always were and always will be quicker than the Flames — quicker and tougher, frankly — so they will own the Flames ‘til further notice. The Hawks owned the Flames last season, then outskated and out-fought the bigger and less disciplined Calgarians in the playoffs. …
    That’s why I can’t get carried away with Thursday night’s slaughter.


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