Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Selanne Sabbatical Ending

Before this season began, I wrote about star players choosing to take longer time off between seasons than the NHL schedule allows. Scott Niedermayer, Peter Forsberg and Teemu Selanne were all doing that.

Niedermayer "contemplated retirement" after a long season where Anaheim won the Stanley Cup. He did this because it was the only way that he could get time off with his signed contract. I think the Ducks knew from day one he would eventually be coming back, but couldn't publically announce it. Scott Niedermayer ended his sabbatical and returned to the Ducks in December. The complex salary cap rules forced Anaheim to make a couple moves to accommodate his salary. First, they waived Ilya Bryzgalov and second they traded Andy McDonald to free up hypothetical salary room next season.

Peter Forsberg is without a contract. He is recovering from surgery on his foot. He is expected to sign with an NHL team soon and probably would have earlier were it not for the problems recurring earlier this season. Forsberg might be the biggest addition any team makes between now and the end of the season, if he is healthy.

Teemu Selanne also wanted a longer break from the NHL after playing into June to win the Stanley Cup with Anaheim. He has finally announced he is coming back. He signed a $1.5 million dollar contract for this season with Anaheim. Since it is a one year deal, there are no salary cap problems for the Ducks to fit Selanne into the lineup. Like Niedermayer, I think Anaheim had a pretty good idea Selanne would eventually return after he has his sabbatical.

We will see if it is possible to win the Stanley Cup despite two of your key players taking extended holidays into the regular season. Anaheim will try to repeat and must be considered a favorite. If Niedermayer and Selanne are in last year's form, they could be the favorite. Is it fair to the fan who has been paying to watch the season so far believing it was important, when a few star players (possibly enough to change the balance of power in the league) didn't consider it important enough to play?

Here is TSN's story on Teemu Selanne's return.

Is it fair to the fan who has been paying to watch the season so far believing it was important, when a few star players (possibly enough to change the balance of power in the league) didn't consider it important enough to play?

It's not that straightforward a question; is it fair that players retire before they need to? Would it be fair for the remainder of the season if they weren't allowed to return?

It's an odd situation, one that I probably wouldn't include Forsberg in, as injuries are a different beast completely. And it's a tough debate; way too much depends on whether you believe this to be a conspiracy or a legitimate consideration of retirement, and whether either player has earned the "right" to consider that.

I dunno--I'm hard-pressed to find an Anaheim fan that is pissed about these developments; much moreso rival fans have delivered their bitter takes. All I end up thinking is this whole turn of events: good for the players, good for the Ducks, and bad for the league. In any case, it is CBA-allowed, and I have trouble condemning those who try to take advantage of it. Kudos to Burke for at least allowing their returns; that's a fairly tough task in itself.
1) Agree Earl. Definitely 'give Kudos to Burke'. There is little doubt he was quite pissed at Niedermayer for the way he handled his on again-off again possible retirement.
2) However, he kept those feelings out of the public purview and didn't alienate Scott, allowing for his return. We think Niedermayer was selfish in the way he allowed his team to twist in the wind all summer into the fall, but if Burke and the Ducks are OK with that, then God bless em!
3) We don't believe this will become a trend though. With the trend toward younger players a vet would be taking huge risk of being able to get back into the league by taking a 'sabbatical' of any significant length.
You have two competing interests. Players need a break. They can play upwards of 100 games in a year in they have a significant playoff run. That can take a strain on your body, mind, health and family. Players would like a break from that sometimes, but the NHL does not offer one in any meaningful way. Hence we see veterans who have safe NHL jobs taking them (and this may become a trend). The run of the mill NHL player cannot take a sabbatical, but a star can. I do not blame the star for wanting a bit of time off. We all do from time to time.

The problem is the NHL still sells the games that the star player is sitting out as equally important as any other. The ticket costs the same amount. Winning the game is worth the same number of points. But it is clearly a lesser game, there are star players who skipped it so they could be fresh for the important part of the season.

The obvious solution (which flies in the face of the NHL economics) is a shorter season. Unless that happens, we will see this conflict more and more frequently.
1) Sorry, we don't buy the argument that "players need time off". Even the Cup winning team gets upwards of 3 months from the last game to training camp!
2) Its not like Niedermayer was coming off a major injury or dealing with a significant family/personal situation that required his time.
3) Yes, we agree players work very hard/are under a lot of pressure to perform, etc., BUT who among the rest of us in the working world are not under the same pressures? Yet we are content/can perform/live with 3 or so weeks vacation and not implode. WE live up to our commitments/expectations! Niedermayer did not!
It is not that uncommon for people in the working world to take a sabbatical. Some NHL player want that right.

Players who win the cup do not get 3 months off. They win the cup in June and are busy getting in shape for training camp in August. At most they had July off. This is an issue. It would be a bigger issue if more players could afford to make it one without the risk of losing their careers over it.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?