There is such thing as “too good” of a deal in the free agent process.
Sometimes that much is only clear later in the life of a contract, as we’ve seen from demotions for players who couldn’t live up to their salary cap hits (such as Michael Nylander and Wade Redden). Such a feeling isn’t exclusive to unrestricted free agents, though; restricted free agents occasionally opt for salary arbitration only to find their teams unwilling to accept the verdict.
That’s what happened to star-crossed winger Clarke MacArthur when the Atlanta Thrashers walked away from his suggested $2.4 million arbitration last year, forcing the unlucky forward to search for a new home very late in the free agent game of musical chairs. He eventually settled for a drastically reduced one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs and went on to post career highs in goals (21), assists (41) and points (62).
There were some concerns that MacArthur would be headed for salary arbitration once again, especially since Leafs GM Brian Burke hinted that the winger was asking for too much money. The two sides can breathe easy after today, though, as they avoided the sometimes-awkward arbitration process by hashing out a two-year, $6.5 million deal.
That works out to a $3.25 million per year salary cap hit, a significant raise from that previous $1.1 million mark and an $850K raise from the amount that was too rich for the Thrashers. We’ll have to wait and see if MacArthur’s 2010-11 production was the result of a contract year anomaly or if he can replicate the unexpectedly nice work he produced with linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin in that campaign.
It might be a bit pricey for a player with a limited sample size of success, but at least Toronto’s risk is short-term compared to, say, the four-year gambles that the Florida Panthers sent out to less productive players. Overall, it’s an acceptable deal that ranks as a slight overpayment, although it would be a nice price if he can approach the 60-point mark in each of the next two seasons.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.