October 27, 2003

Way to go Wild!: The summer speculation seems to have been too rosy, as Marion Gaborik is leaving town without a deal. His incredibly strong negotiating position seems to have been a intimidating detriment, and even his compromise of keeping the same salary as last year was rejected. Why? Not in Risebrough's budget. Ah, good times in the NHL.

posted by garfield to hockey at 03:26 PM - 25 comments

"I offered to sign a contract for the same gross pay I earned in each of the last two seasons. My offer to the Wild was rejected. I am very disappointed with these developments, especially after last season's successful playoff run."

posted by garfield at 03:27 PM on October 27, 2003

I don't know what to make of these disputes anymore. Salaries are too high -- Gaborik's is no exception -- and yet throwing down "take a pay cut or play in Slovakia" is dirty pool. I can forgive a lowball if the previous salary was disproportionate to the player's worth, but Gaborik's the franchise. I'll side with the owners -- again, salaries are too high across the board -- but still think Gaborik's getting jobbed.

posted by Succa at 03:51 PM on October 27, 2003

I don't understand the fan sentiment that salaries are too high. For every executive like Risebrough who decides to make an example of a star athlete, there are others who will gladly pay that much (if not more) for the same guy.

posted by rcade at 03:56 PM on October 27, 2003

there are others who will gladly pay that much (if not more) for the same guy. Then the low-budget teams have three choices: 1) let the player go play for the Wings, Rangers, Avs, etc, 2) bite the bullet and pay for their stars by upping ticket prices, or 3) play the trap, send the fans home asleep, and grind their way into the playoffs. None of these scenarios are good for the game.

posted by Succa at 04:11 PM on October 27, 2003

"his compromise of keeping the same salary" This is a little misleading. He was asking for the same in guaranteed money as to what he made last season with incentives. A season where he basically maximized his performance. As a Wild fan, I don't even know what to think anymore. It's basically getting to the point where most here in Minnesota just want the two sides to get a deal made. Especially since we are sucking it up so far this year.

posted by emoeby at 05:10 PM on October 27, 2003

Isn't maximizing his performance in the first few years in the league worth a guaranteed paycheck? There is truth to one's excellence becoming what is expected, but exceeding expectations is usually rewarded with a raise. Gaborik has dropped his raise request. If the Wild were expecting to give their franchise player a pay cut, well, I have no idea how the Wild expected to sign the player that made them all that Playoff money. I wish I had an estimate on that figure, because I'd wager his salary would maybe amount to a fifth of that total. Too high? Not when you consider all that capital is essentially a team-wide bonus, as the Wild weren't banking on making such a run.

posted by garfield at 05:34 PM on October 27, 2003

I don't understand the fan sentiment that salaries are too high. Talk to Bettman. Oh wait, I think he's under the hood of his propoganda hotrod; changing the plugs, filter, and the oil, replacing the timing belt, and installing a supercharger. It's gonna be a fun season.

posted by garfield at 06:06 PM on October 27, 2003

Folks, if you haven't caught an NHL game in person yet. Do it NOW. Crap like this makes CBA negotiations worse.

posted by lilnemo at 07:30 PM on October 27, 2003

Succa - all good points - but I think Gaborik's demands are super out of line. I had posted about the salaries in his division from last year on my site earlier tonight... This is the reason we won't have a post-season this year, most likely... Or at least a beginning in October next year. Sucks.

posted by djspicerack at 08:20 PM on October 27, 2003

spicerack, I have to agree with you. First of all, I think salaries are way out of line in the league right now, but I recognize that the blame is shared equally beween players, agents, and management right now. The Bruins have Marty Lapointe for 5 mil a season. Stupid. The Rangers could feed all of Ethiopia for a year with what they pay Holik. What? It's crazy. The problem is, as rcade mentioned, other people were willing to pay insane dollars for these guys, and that just keeps driving the salaries up. I don't think Gaborik should get more than 3 mil a year. Will he get more points than a lot of other guys making 3 mil? Yep. But as a kid, he has to expect to crawl slowly up the salary ladder. I sincerely believe that incentive-laden contracts are the way to go with high-scoring forwards in the NHL. 1.5 mil base salary, and then bonuses for goals, assists, faceoffs, etc. I also think these contracts should top out at about 5-6 million per year for superstars. A similar deal should be in place for goalies. Role players, defensemen, and penalty-killer types would need something else, though. Stats aren't always the whole story. Seriously though - Who really needs more than 6 million a year?

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:37 PM on October 27, 2003

So what are these magical intangibles (other than recorded stats) you speak of, and how do you quantify them, assuming accrual is fundamental to layered contracts? I like the straight-forwardness of the idea, but if you're Scott Stevens, what are you worth? Or to be more truthful, how do you play? Do you play for 78pts and daddy's new yacht, or 20 pts and Camry? You see where I'm going. Soon you could have agents looking over the coaches’ shoulder, trying to influence lines so their boy will get those extra just-for-being-there 20 pts. Not a pretty picture. There needs to be a level of certainty in a contract, which when increased is the reward (read:security) for exceeding or meeting expectations for a determined time. Perhaps equilibrium has yet to be found or understood within the League, but it is not that far off. To help the cause, perhaps market information should be made more available so that these Phantom market forces that inexplicably drive salaries higher could be exposed as irrational, or better yet, prevented.

posted by garfield at 10:24 PM on October 27, 2003

I don't understand the fan sentiment that salaries are too high. I'd assume that sentiment was actually directed as a comparison to salaries everywhere else in the world.

posted by chuck cash at 07:00 AM on October 28, 2003

Garfield, that's why I said that defenseman, role players, and penalty-killer types would need something different (rather than an incentive-laden contract). The point is that sometimes when you pay superstars the big money up front, they end up Jagr-ing you in the end.

posted by Samsonov14 at 07:20 AM on October 28, 2003

I hear ya. I think I misunderstood you on the role-player needing a different contract type. And I agree, $9m and a bad attitude don't mix. However, to assume salaries are too high without privy of the League's books is half-baked. Yes, there are a hand full of obvious contract mistakes, but to say salaries in the league are out of line, I just had to jump on that.

posted by garfield at 08:11 AM on October 28, 2003

Yeah, I'm curious about the actual figures involved, too. If what the owners are saying about losing money is true and they made the actual numbers public, they could gain a lot of fan support during the re-negotiation of the CBA.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:19 AM on October 28, 2003

That whole 'I lost my $300 million' doesn't mean shit to me since they stashed the same amount, ya know, just in case. Did the players do anything remotely as underhanded?

posted by garfield at 09:33 AM on October 28, 2003

Off topic, I really miss the other Cold War. Was the 1972 Summit Series even news in the U.S?

posted by garfield at 10:26 AM on October 28, 2003

They're not going to resign him? Ridiculous - and for those of you who keep looking at last years regular season stats for estimated worth - take a look at the playoff stats. He fucking produced on a team where he was the ONLY go to guy around deep into the third round and everyone was gunning for him.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:58 PM on October 28, 2003

The Kings did allow a fan (and money manager) to take a look at their books. The report can be viewed on LetsGoKings.com. What I found most interesting was the author's conclusion that the main driver of higher player salaries has been the poorly planned and badly executed expansion of the NHL outside of its traditional markets.

posted by offsides at 05:13 PM on October 28, 2003

Holy Crap! A major market, big sport franchise allowed a season ticket holder to check the books?! Thats unheard of! Lieweke must be crazy.

posted by lilnemo at 05:24 PM on October 28, 2003

Bye the bye, excellent links there offsides. That was FPP-worthy.

posted by lilnemo at 05:26 PM on October 28, 2003

offsides, interesting report but I'm not clear how the author jumps from an examination of one team's books to conclusions aout the league as a whole. Especially since the Kings are a big market team, yet still losing major dollars, and the author calls for equalizing revenues with small market teams which would presumably mean less dollars for the Kings.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:27 PM on October 28, 2003

6.5 and 4.4 are a little out there for a not-totally-proven quantity in a comparatively money-tight market, but 3.3 base plus incentives sounds like it would be within negotiation range; that is, after all, 3 times his previous base. Strange that something couldn't be worked out.

posted by juv3nal at 03:12 AM on October 29, 2003

offsides, thanks for bringing that up. That type of transparency is exactly what is needed league-wide to resolve this whole mess. Because as it stands, nobody trusts the owners.

posted by garfield at 09:03 AM on October 29, 2003

Gaborik signs new deal with Wild Rumor is 3 years, $10 million, with potential to get $15 mil.

posted by emoeby at 02:52 PM on October 31, 2003

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