November 3, 2007
Spezza's contract could signal Redden's end
By SCOTT MORRISON
Wade Redden must have mixed emotions today.
Yesterday he saw his team, the Ottawa Senators, lock up another key piece of their present and future, signing centre Jason Spezza to a seven-year extension worth $49 million US. The Senators thus prevent Spezza from becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer, when they might have had to deal with an even more expensive offer sheet. Meaning, the likes of the Maple Leafs might have swept in with an even more expensive offer, although now we'll never know.
In the process, the signing virtually guarantees that Redden's future in Ottawa won't extend past July 1, unless a lot changes, including his salary expectations, take place.
With the signing of Spezza, on the heels of locking up Dany Heatley at a $7.5-million average, the Senators have roughly $40 million tied up in 10 players next season and that does not include Redden, who should become a very attractive unrestricted free agent.
To stay in Ottawa, if it is even possible, he would have to make considerably less than the $6.5 million he has been averaging. You also have to think that inevitably one of the $3-million plus goaltenders will have to depart, though that is not a lock depending on how sharp Bryan Murray's pencil is.
Bottom line, the future looks bright for the Senators -- at least for those who have one in Ottawa -- although Murray will have a stiff challenge in balancing and maintaining the remainder of his roster with a limited amount of cash. But long term, he will have a very good nucleus to lead his team. Short-term, the Sens remain a leading Stanley Cup contender.
All of these very long-term deals speak to life in the cap world, where teams have to identify the essential elements on their rosters and, with free agency arriving earlier and all the attendant cap challenges, get them locked up long-term.
It also speaks to the next CBA negotiations, which, hopefully, won't arrive after next season, and whether guaranteed contracts and the length of contracts become the hot-button issues.
Ted Nolan is out as coach of the New York Islanders. Well, for a day.
Actually, Nolan isn't going anywhere but in a classy move instituted by Nolan, he and the Islanders agreed to bring back legendary coach Al Arbour on a one-day contract to coach his 1,500th game. Arbour, who turned 75 on Thursday and has had severe health issues over the years, will be in pursuit of career victory number 740, working alongside Nolan behind the bench. And Nolan wants Arbour to have input.
It is a nice touch to be sure and it generates some good publicity for the Isles. What is slightly odd, however, is the timing. It happens tonight, with the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting.
Now, Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby could fill the building on their own. Having Arbour coach on another night -- with a lesser draw visiting -- would have guaranteed another good audience the Isles normally would not get.
Regardless, it is a nice gesture.
MORE ON TOCCHET
The good news for Rick Tocchet was that he was vindicated in his assertions that his involvement with the gambling ring was nowhere close to what was originally portrayed by the authorities.
This raises the question of how exactly can police and prosecutors get away with such grandstanding until investigations are complete and all the facts are in? It's all wrong.
Still, what Tocchet did was also wrong, there is no doubt about that, but it wasn't in the same league as what was originally being suggested. He wasn't a ring-leader, he wasn't linked to organized crime and he wasn't betting on hockey or arranging bets for others in the NHL on hockey.
In the end, Tocchet admitted what he did was stupid. And if the original portrayal was unfair, which it was, well, he put himself in the position.
As for the ruling by commissioner Gary Bettman, keeping Tocchet on the sidelines until February, given all the things that happened and the need for a professional league to send a message but also feel assured nothing will happen in the future, that much was fair.
Last week, the Montreal Canadiens said they didn't think players who received penalties in overtime should be allowed to participate in the shootout. The specific instance involved Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar, who received a boarding penalty in overtime after hitting defenceman Francis Bouillon, then took part in the shootout.
"I think if you take a penalty with less than two minutes to go in overtime, you shouldn't be allowed to take a penalty shot," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.
Makes sense, you shouldn't score a game-winning goal from the penalty box, especially since players who receive major or misconduct penalties are not allowed to return for the shootout. But as colleague Jeff Marek pointed out, it could also work against a team.
Say, for instance, the player who takes the penalty is a guy who wouldn't normally take part in the front end of a shootout.
Say the shootout goes long, very long. All of a sudden one team, in this case Montreal, would be working with a pool of 18 shooters, the other team would have 17 and would be able to get to their better shooters quicker if the process dragged on.
It's not likely to happen, of course, but it could.