Niemi Knows the Way to San Jose; NHL re-writes CBA as it goes

Allow me to set the scene: 

It’s July 9th and the San Jose Sharks have just signed Ham Sandwich to an offer sheet.  Bobby and I are having a discussion at my birthday party when I turn to him and say something along the lines of, “What if this was all one big scheme cooked up by Doug Wilson to nab Antti Niemi?  He knows the Hawks will match the offer sheet but won’t be able to afford Niemi.  Perhaps that’s his plan all along.”

Bob: You could be on to something.

Flashforward to the present and it certainly seems like that was the case.  Though the fact it took the Sharks as long as it did doesn’t really support the claim. 

Either way, Niemi makes the Sharks stronger in net than they were yesterday.  And at one-year, $2 million, it’s kind of a no-brainer for Wilson and company.

–Other late-breaking news today came out of New York during the embarrassing Ilya Kovalchuk hearings.  The NHL gave the Players Association a deadline of Friday at 5 pm to accept certain stipulations that will affect not only Kovalchuk’s contract but also Marian Hossa’s and Roberto Luongo’s. 

1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.

2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary.

The penalty for not accepting these terms will the latest Kovalchuk contract (15 years, $100 million) will be rejected, Luongo’s deal will be voided and there will be a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

Now, Hossa’s contract was already supposedly investigated last summer and it could be that the NHL is simply leaving the door open in case they find some smoking gun of evidence, i.e. a text message from Dale Tallon to Marian Hossa’s agent saying, “We’ll add on a couple more years at a minimal salary but who cares because your client will be retired by then.” 

In which case, the logical question is if they haven’t found that by now, what makes them think they all of a sudden will discover it?

However, it is quite worrisome especially with the NHL’s front office on a crusade to suddenly punish these evil wrong-doers who front-loaded contracts.  The punishment handed down to the Hawks should an investigation be opened and evidence of cap circumvention is found can range from the minimal (fine or loss of draft picks) to catastrosphic (forfeiture of entire season). 

That extreme of a punishment is highly unlikely, but it would make for one hell of a story.

We’ll just have to wait until Friday afternoon to see which way this is headed.

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13 Responses to Niemi Knows the Way to San Jose; NHL re-writes CBA as it goes

  1. Brian says:

    The NHL keeps looking stupid. They threaten to try to void a contract they approved and is going on its 2nd year already. Too bad the Cubs couldn’t use this trick to shed some bad paper.

  2. Lou says:

    If the NHL wants to play that game (Bettman’s egomania is that big), the league will be in court. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. Even a leaderless NHLPA will do that.

    Labor law and CBAs are clearly defined legal agreements. You just don’t change the language mid stream with out negotiation, acceptance by both parties and then typically, signed legal documents etc. You also don’t make up new rules and apply them retro-actively circumventing the collective bargaining process. Both parties can “violate” the CBA and the NHL can get brought to arbitration too.

    If in year two of a contract you miraculously find a data point for a contract that you approved and allowed a player to play under, you are going to have a lot of explaining to do in front of a judge. Could you imagine a murder trial, if they decided not to charge a person while possesing DNA evidence etc. because they want to wiat for a later date? Extreme example but you get the point.

    If he wants strong polarization and Donald “I did wonders for MLB” Fehr sooner – this is the way.

    I think this is all posturing b/c NJ Lou is beating him at the game. And Kovy is a primadonna. Let him go to the KHL – He is not in the top 10 elite players in the league so why treat him as one.

  3. dominator says:

    I’m curious to see how Nemo is going to play in San Jose, their defense really isn’t very good.

  4. Lee says:

    John, I think you were right on when you made that comment at your birthday party. There is no doubt that from the beginning Doug Wilson was out to screw the Hawks. Ok, he succeeded but this piece of crap goalie who had one year of success had every chance to sign with the Hawks but instead he goes to arbitration and then signs for considerbly less, what a greedy jerk. I only hope that when the Hawks play San Jose they shell this piece of crtap Finn and make him regret he ever left Chicago ! Am I pissed, YES. I

  5. AC says:

    A quick question on the arbitration number and final contract. Since $2M is less than 80% of the arbitrators award of $2.75M don’t the Blackhawks have the opportunity to take Niemi for $2M (or something like that)? That could be a great way to thank Wilson for the Hammer offer sheet.

  6. Lou says:

    If you read what the NHL is allegeding to do, and threatening to do to to Hossa is just wrong.

    You guys have any thoughts or scuttle oon that.

  7. Lou says:

    If you read what the NHL is allegeding to do, and threatening to do to to Hossa is just wrong.

    You guys have any thoughts or scuttle on that.

  8. dominator says:

    AC: That rule no longer exists in the CBA, its from the 90s. Niemi is a Shark and thats final.

  9. AC says:

    @Dominator: Thanks, they had referred to it earlier in the year in regards to some other RFAs in other cities, so I wasn’t sure.

  10. AC says:

    It does kinda crack me up that the article about the NHL “Crackdown on contracts” is from the NY Post. Isn’t that like citing the National Enquirer for business news?

  11. feyer says:

    It looks like NHL and NHLPA struck a deal, and we can quite worrying about the whole Hossa contract thing.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=332542

  12. dominator says:

    Potulny is a great signing, especially on a two way. This preseason should actually be interesting with the amount of competition for those last few spots.

  13. The Goods says:

    I think you’re wrong about San Jose tendering an offer sheet to Hjalmarsson as a means to get Niemi. If that were true, the Sharks would not have waited as long as they did to sign Niemi after Chicago rejected the arbitrator’s decision. There was plenty of time for another team to swoop in and sign Niemi during that time. If San Jose had planned to go for Niemi all along, they would have signed him right after the abitrator’s decision was rejected.

    I guess they may have made an offer to Niemi immediately and that Niemi sat on it to see if he would receive a better offer, but I doubt it.

    The Sharks tendered an offer to sheet to Hjalmarsson because he’s really good and they wanted him, not Niemi. Let’s all remember that Scotty Bowman is on record staking his career on his prediction that Hjalmarsson will be the next Nick Lidstrom.

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