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.