As the clock ticked toward another NHL lockout, some owners scrambled to give some more huge contracts before the league shutdown.
Try to follow the logic here:
The owners, claiming financial distress, are demanding wholesale concessions from the NHL Players Association in the next collective bargaining agreement. They are willing to shutter the league for as along as it takes to get those concessions.
At the same time these owners, apparently flush with cash, are signing players to huge eight- and nine-digit contracts this summer.
The owners want to cap the length of player contracts, with five years being a popular number on that side of the table.
Fearing that the players could give in to this demand in the next CBA, many owners are desperately trying to sign their key players to longer-term contracts before that happens.
So even as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was trying to stand tall (not an easy task for him) and talk tough, his owners were opening their vaunt and tossing massive dollars at their soon-to-be-locked out players.
Big winger Milan Lucic got a three-year, $18 million extension from the Boston Bruins. Earlier, that team gave Tyler Seguin a six-year extension averaging $5.75 million per year and a four-year, $18 million extension to forward Brad Marchand.
That adds up to a $70.5 million commitment to three players. Imagine what the Bruins would have spent if the NHL didn’t face such crippling economic challenges.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli acknowledged the incongruity during a chat with reporters. “I know the optics don’t look great,” he said. “But I’ve got to do my business as usual.”
The Bruins weren’t the only team racing to spend money for locking the doors.
Defenseman John Carlson got a six-year, $23.8 million deal from the Washington Capitals. He is locked up until 2018.
The Dallas Stars gave injury-prone goaltender Kari Lehtonen a five-year contract extension worth $29.5 million. He, too, is secured until 2018.
Free agent power forward Shane Doan finally agreed to a four-year, $21.2 million deal to stay in Phoenix.
Agitator Alex Burrows got a four-year, $18 million extension from the Vancouver Canucks.
And on and on it goes. Before setting out to starve players into a bad settlement, many owners decided to award key players lifetime security.
Way to weaken their resolve!