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Screwing Paul Holmgren: How the owners' CBA proposal crushes teams like the Flyers

You thought Ed Snider and the wealthy NHL owners had power? The league's CBA proposal says otherwise.

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One of most interesting aspects of NHL proposal is aimed at punishing clubs more than players, with regard to existing back-diving deals. Any existing deal in excess of 5 yrs would carry cap hit in every year of contract, even if player were to retire with year(s) left. ... If player traded, then later in deal retires, original club on hook for cap hit.

>> TSN's Bob McKenzie


If the NHL's proposed "Wade Redden rule" is intended to screw a team like the New York Rangers, this can officially be called the "screw you, Paul Holmgren rule."

It's hard to think of another team this rule, if it becomes part of the new CBA, would hurt more than the Philadelphia Flyers. The Vancouver Canucks and Roberto Luongo's contract come to mind, but that's about it. Think of the long-term contracts the Flyers have traded away in recent years:

* Mike Richards: Eight years, $45 million remaining on a deal that expires in 2019-20 and hits the cap at $5.75 million per season.

* Jeff Carter: Ten years, $52 million remaining on a deal that expires in 2021-22 and hits the cap at $5.272 million per season.

* James van Riemsdyk: Six years, $25.5 million remaining on a deal that expires in 2017-18 and hits the cap at $4.25 million per season.

That money would hit the Flyers' cap in the event that Richards and Carter retire before their contracts expire, as far as we're aware from McKenzie's report. It's possible that this rule only affects contracts that have yet to be traded, but that doesn't make much sense:

Let's make sure these rules cover existing contracts, and make sure we stop teams from trading away contracts for relief, but we won't cover existing contracts that have been traded.

They're either targeting existing contracts or they're not. Seems like odd logic to leave out deals like the ones listed above. It only makes sense that Richards, Carter and JvR's contracts would be included here.

Is retirement a certainty? No, absolutely not. Richards will be 35 when his deal expires, Carter 37, van Riemsdyk 29. But it's definitely a possibility, at least in the cases of the Brothers Los Angeles, and the worst part is that it takes the control completely out of the Flyers' hands. Holmgren, Snider, Luukko and Co. have absolutely no say in what Richards, Carter and JvR do the rest of their careers, yet they are at their mercy.

As our Eric T. outlined on Twitter, the nightmare scenario:

This dystopian, Giroux-less future isn't likely even as a worst-case, but it gives you a sense at just how helpless the Flyers could become under this part of the new CBA.

It also gives the Flyers a whole lot fewer when it comes to existing long-term deals on the team. The one caveat with every long-term deal when signed is always "Oh, well they can just try and trade him to a cap floor team if it becomes unfriendly."

Well, that wouldn't be an option anymore.

If Wayne Simmonds' new six year, $23.85 million deal becomes unfriendly? If Scott Hartnell's new six year, $28.5 deal becomes unfriendly? Stuck with it until 2018-19 no matter what.

If the eight years, $41 million remaining on Ilya Bryzgalov's deal becomes unfriendly? Stuck with it until 2019-20, no matter what. If the three years, $12 million remaining on Danny Briere's deal become even more unfriendly? Stuck with it until 2014-15, no matter what.


Update: We're a little bit confused about another portion of McKenzie's report, as follows:

On trading of cap space/retaining salary, it would be limited to $3M for each contract year left or 50 per cent of AAV, whichever is less. Each club, in any given year, tho, would be subject to a 2 contract and/or $5M limit in terms of retaining salary.

This is a little foggy and we're going to look for clarification, but it's possible this could provide the Flyers' cap relief -- at least a small amount -- in the form of trading cap space or paying a portion of a player's salary after trading him, much like is done in baseball. Either way, this form of relief would be limited, as stated above.

If you have a clearer reading of this, please share in the comments.

Update two: This is a different piece of the proposal. The Flyers can trade away players and negotiate based on the rules above, but if they retire, all bets are off. Their cap hit is on the Flyers books.


On the bright side, the NHLPA isn't expected to accept this CBA offer outright. On the even brighter side, our knowledge of this CBA proposal is still fluid and we could learn things in the coming hours and days that mitigate our fears.

On the downright awful side, this part of the league's Tuesday proposal isn't targeted at players. It's targeted at their own clubs that have been cheating the system for the last seven years, like the Flyers.

All the talk about how Ed Snider, Peter Luukko and the Flyers are at the head of the NHL owners table? And how they always get the best part of the meal, leaving the rest of the family to fend for table scraps?

It looks like the family just revolted.

This story has been updated. Eric T. and Geoff Detweiler contributed to this story.