Monday, March 05, 2007

Creating Controversy

I'm gonna take half a post to leave my Albertacentric world and wade into the new debate du jour of the NHL: Should players be able to resign with their former teams after being traded away as a rental?

A lot of personalities/talking heads have taken the position that it is very unfair that players can be traded on deadline day, and then during the summer resign with the former team, after their 'rental team' has given up a bunch of picks/prospects. I assume (mainly because this particular argument has been articulated so poorly by its advocates) this situation is unfair because the former team can make some sort of under the table deal and therefore has an advantage in signing the player, and perhaps it's an unethical advantage.

Another point the talking heads seem to be trying to make is that the 'rental team' gave up A LOT of assets for the rented player, and as such, they deserve some sort of value in return.

I suppose that one could argue whether the 'against' side is really two arguments or one poorly constructed argument, but I will approach it as a two assumption argument and rebute it in that sense.

Firstly, it is possible that the player's long time team (the rentee) could make a behind closed doors, under the table deal, such as; we will trade you to a Stanley Cup contender as a favour to you, then we will get assets in return, and we will resign you in the offseason and you will return to a stronger franchise, no hurt feelings. But there are two problems with that idea:

1) First of all, it is not as if under the table/on my word deals are as strong as those written on paper. Don't believe me? Ask Andrew Ference about his 'on my word' no trade clause. Ask Ryan Smyth about the on my word deal he/Meehan made with Kevin Lowe about not talking contract until the summer, lest it be a distraction to the team. As we have been told over the past week, the NHL is a business, and if you want something in business, get it in writing.

However, one cannot make that deal in writing due to CBA tampering rules. Look, I am not a CBA expert, you are probably not a CBA expert, read Kevin Lowe's (paraphrased) words:

HNIC After Hours: Are you going to try to reaquire Ryan in the summer?
Lowe: Well, I'm not allowed to talk about that...

2) OK, lets assume these types of 'on my word' deals are being made. If that's the case, well, then that's tough luck. The renting teams know that the players could potentially have relationships that go far deeper with the rentee teams, and as such, may have allegiances to them. But if the renters know they're renting a player. If they haven't yet figured out these types of players are refferred to as 'rentals' due to their short duration with the rentee teams, then the renter's GM should be fired on the spot.

Secondly, the entire reason this player became available in the first place, is that the rentees understood there wasn't a garuntee the player would resign with them. The entire inspiration for the trade itself is that the rentees weren't willing to assume the risk associated with losing an asset for nothing. If you're willing to trade for a rental, you are automatically assuming that risk, assumedly because you believe the risk is worth the reward, that being the rental player is the missing peice to either a) making the playoffs or b) winning The Cup.

Of course, usually only one single team ever makes the right decision with their rentals every year (the Stanley Cup winning team), so if a team is giving up a lot of assets, rentals are pretty much always a bad plan. Regardless, the risk is one that is inherent in all business, and if GM's insist on making risky deals, they should live with the high cost.

The second part of the argument against rentals is that the rentees are giving up way too much for a player that will only be with them for 20 or so game. To anyone who argues that, I argue: its a free market economy, and when traded, players are worth whatever someone pays for them. Sometimes teams are gonna get skunked, and some teams will skunk others. Deal with it.


An interesting development has occured in Edmonton, which is that Petr Nedved, the near useless centre, has been put on the injured reserve, allowing Edmonton to recall Kyle Brodziak from the AHL to fill in. I use the term 'allow' because Edmonton has reached the limit of players allowed to be recalled from the 'A,' unless an injury occurs, in which case an 'emergency recall' can occur.

Now, you may notice that I wrote that Petr Nedved was put on the injured reserve, not that Petr Nedved was injured, because I don't know if he's injured. Given the state of his decrepid body, it wouldn't suprise me.

However, given the state of Edmonton's season, and given the tenuous state of Kevin Lowe, and given Kevin Lowe's pleading of patience, and that 'fans haven't even seen guys like Kyle Brodziak' on HNIC, I have to think the timing of Petr's injury is particularly conveinient. The Oilers want to test some of their young guys at this point (actually, I think they want to test all of their young guys by looking at the average age of this roster) and Petr Nedved no longer serves any purpose for this team.

I suspect something similar may have taken place with Darren McCarty earlier this season, as he was just about as effective as Petr Nedved.

Corrections: In one of my recent posts, I stated that Don Meehan was responsible for Theo Fleury's departure from Calgary. In fact, Theo's agent was Don Baizley, and I sincerely apologize for the confusion. First name right, rest of it wrong.


walkinvisible said...

1. interesting commentary on the rental/re-signing sitch. what you leave out is the obvious: that the player is free to sign ANYWHERE. so it's really a risk on all fronts --to the renter AND the rentee. a 3rd party might step in and offer the sink...

2. I suspect something similar may have taken place with Darren McCarty earlier this season
mac went from "hip" to "sports hernia" in the blink of an eye. i'm not slammin' the guy, he was probably my favorite flame over the past few years, but he is DONE. as in: done done. as in: might as well get fat, smoke spliffs and write "rock'n'roller" beside "occupation" done...

Kyle said...

1. Yes exactly. As I mentioned several times, its a business, and usually in business the highest bid wins. Certainly, best bid wins.

2. Well, I know Darren can still hit the casinos around town...

Scarlett said...

I didn't realize there was a limit until I heard this recently. So how many recalls are they allowed a year? I don't really understand why there is a limit. It's rediculous.

But I hope there are a few more "injuries" so we can see the rest of our minor leaguers. Why not? If you're out of it, bring them up!

Kyle said...

scarlett: I don't know the exact number, but I know the Oilers have hit it. I think the limit is there because of cap implications regarding bringing in minor leaguers.