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Comrie's $1.65M contract - a stab at Lowe?

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Old
12-10-2003, 09:35 PM
  #1
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Comrie's $1.65M contract - a stab at Lowe?

Check out the compensation for a group II rfa (if this info is correct).

At $1.65M Comrie can sign an offer sheet that only nets the Oil a 1st and 2nd rounder if the Oil don't excersize their right to match. If Comrie signs an offer for only $3,228 more then the compensation would go up to 2 1st rounders.

Quote:
Free Agent Rules

Restricted free agents - Group II: Players who have been tendered a qualifying offer by their respective clubs are subject to draft choice compensation and right to match by their previous club. The draft choice compensation scale is based on compensation offered by the new club.



OFFER COMPENSATION

$551,076 or below None

Over $551,076 - $757,729 Third-round choice

Over $757,729 - $895,498 Second-round choice

Over $895,498 - $1,102,152 First-round choice

Over $1,102,152 - $1,377,689 First-and third-round choices

Over $1,377,689 - $1,653,227 First-and second-round choices

Over $1,653,227 - $1,928,765 Two first-round choices

Over $1,928,765 - $2,342,071 Two first-round and one second-round choice

Over $2,342,071 Three first-round choices

Each additional $1,377,689 One additional first-round choice to a maximum of five
The Oil still have the right to match of course, but I find it interesting that Comrie and Murray have settled on this number. Especially when the Offer of Perry and a 1st round draft pick is so similar in nature to that level of compensation. Perry was picked 28th overall, correct?

I say let the little s-o-b rot if Lowe can't get what he wants.

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12-10-2003, 09:41 PM
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Whew.. any other situation and I'd assume it was just a coincidence but this whole Mike Comrie conundrum (i like how that sounds, Comrie Conundrum! ) is just getting insane! I'm almost expecting Winter and Comrie to appear on a few late night talk shows to start slamming Lowe!

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12-10-2003, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
Check out the compensation for a group II rfa (if this info is correct).

At $1.65M Comrie can sign an offer sheet that only nets the Oil a 1st and 2nd rounder if the Oil don't excersize their right to match. If Comrie signs an offer for only $3,228 more then the compensation would go up to 2 1st rounders.

The Oil still have the right to match of course, but I find it interesting that Comrie and Murray have settled on this number. Especially when the Offer of Perry and a 1st round draft pick is so similar in nature to that level of compensation. Perry was picked 28th overall, correct?

I say let the little s-o-b rot if Lowe can't get what he wants.
As normally happens when I take too long to get my thoughts together for a post, you've beaten me to the punch. We're thinking along similar lines. Here are the thoughts that I cooked up before seeing your post.....

++++++
I’m a bit late in the day catching up with all the Comrie news on this Board. Rather than tune this post up by bomb proofing my propositions in advance, I’ve decided to put together some bullet point initial thoughts for discussion about what I think is going on and what this all means:

 First, I opted for “option 2” on the poll thread (“Kevin Lowe is smart. But it isn't the classiest move in the world”). After reading some of the other threads and I want to change my vote to something closer to option 1 (“Kevin Lowe is a genius. He getting a good financial deal.”). However, this isn’t quite my position, since the essence of option 1 is that Lowe is shrewd. In reality, I think that what’s happened is that Lowe is just being reasonable in wishing to preserve the value he deserves to receive in exchange for Comrie under the CBA.

 Second point: In my heart of hearts, until today I have been hoping against hope that the sides could kiss and make up and Comrie would come back to the team. Now I am totally in the “let the little beggar rot” category. He and Winter deserve everything they get from here on in.

 I watched the video of the Bob McKenzie segment on TSN.ca, and I absolutely do not believe his version which, in essence, is that the Oilers and Ducks had made a deal down to the finalization of Comrie’s contract and then Lowe changed the deal by asking Comrie to pay $2.535 or the Oilers would walk. Undoubtedly, the $2.535 number came up previously in the Oilers negotiations with the Ducks and Murray turned it down, so I’m guessing that Lowe brought Comrie into the office after Murray’s rejection of the money to put the onus on Comrie to put up or shut up if he wanted his chosen deal so badly. However, even before it would have come up in the context of Oilers/Ducks discussions, $2.535 M had to have come from somewhere, probably a deal that the Oilers could have had somewhere else that was blocked by Comrie’s refusal to sign with a partner chosen by the Oilers. McKenzie is clearly relying on a one-sided source, probably in the Comrie camp itself.

 First principles here: If I’m not mistaken, Comrie is a Group II free agent. The Oilers complied with the letter of the qualifying offer requirements for group II FAs and are entitled to either a right of first refusal on a RFA contract offer by a new team or compensation under a formula. If Comrie and the Ducks wanted to make a deal for Comrie at say $1.6 (I thought I read that the Ducks contract was about this amount, but I can’t find the post just now), it is pretty likely that the Oilers would exercise their right of first refusal and would sign Comrie at that amount. At that point, Comrie would be Oilers contracted property and the Oilers could theoretically ask him to play. However, in reality, given the breakdown between the parties that has occurred, the Oilers would trade Comrie, but would have the option of making a deal at that contract price to any team in the league - not just Comrie’s self selected set teams. UFAs have the right to narrow the field in this way, RFAs do not. Comrie and Winter’s actions in not allowing the Oilers to exercise their right of first refusal has clearly created the lost value for the Oilers and they deserve compensation for that loss of value. Period.

 Ranting on a bit here. It is worth mentioning that the Oiler’s RFA rights to either compensation or a right of first refusal is something that any team with a holdout RFA is entitled to be able to expect. Such rights would apply to any player of Comrie’s age that followed the normal entry level system compensation rules. Comrie, of course, did an end around the entry level system and was handsomely compensated way beyond what he “deserved” under the CBA. Comrie exploited a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement that the NHL owners did not consciously trade off when they initially negotiated the deal. They were clearly expecting to get a cap on entry level players as part of the deal they signed. This didn’t happen because the teams were outclevered by the sophisticated agents that exploited the words rather than the intent of the deal and made it stick. The Oilers sucked up the Van Ryn loophole and paid up. In my opinion, they even made extraordinary efforts to provide him with icetime he didn’t deserve to ensure that he could qualify for his bonuses. Now they’re doing something unethical when they want to get Comrie to – finally – play by the rules when there’s no loophope to exploit? Comrie and Winter have no moral high ground here. None.

 That the Ducks are not offering anywhere close to value in the reported deal is also clearly evident when you look at the compensation for RFAs under the CBA. By my reading of Article 10.5 here: http://letsgopens.com/nhl_cba.php?id=10 the Ducks would have to compensate the Oilers with a first and a second round draft choice if they signed him at $1.6 M. Corey Perry is an upgrade over the second round pick, but by how much? In any event, the offer to Comrie is only in the $1.6 M range because Comrie and Winter through a combination of restrictions they may have placed on negotiating partners and the value depressing effect that Comrie’s “attitude problems” have had on his value to other potential teams.

 I will be very interested to see what reaction comes from the NHLPA and from other GM’s. In particular, I’d love to hear what Brian Burke has to say about this. Would expect that he will back the Oilers up. Conversely, the NHLPA will be making a grave tactical error if they try to back up the spin that that Oilers are “extorting” Comrie in this case. As I understand it, the NHLPA’s core position is that the CBA is fine and that the player market would work just fine for the league if the teams would show some gonads and use the levers that exist in the agreement – the main lever being the ability to say “no” to players that make excessive demands that the teams believe are excessive. Interestingly, this is a position that is reflected in Bruce Dowbiggin’s new book “Money Players”. Dowbiggin basically backs up the view that the owners lack of discipline has caused the CBA to create a flawed economic system, not the CBA itself. His documentation of how the NHLPA was able to systematically raise the salary bar is well known to posters on HF. However, what is interesting in his book is that he punctuates the book with with war story anecdotes from agents involved in the precedent setting negotiations. The upshot of most of these agent stories is that had the teams just stuck with their guns and used CBA tools available to them, the salary inflation we’ve seen would not have occurred. Not incidentally, Rich Winter is prominent in these tales of woe and the take that the NHL only has itself to blame for its managerial incompetance in using the 1995 CBA. How does the NHLPA’s current position hold up if they back up Comrie right now? I would say not very well.

Just my thoughts…

HBP

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12-10-2003, 10:01 PM
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Yep, looks like we're right on the same page with this one HBP. EErily similar You did a lot of great work on that post, it's kind of a shame that I slipped in there.

Oh well, if anyone comes over to these message boards now and rattles off an uninformed opinion on the matter I'll direct them to your post. That's the MC/Winter/Lowe saga in a nutshell.

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12-10-2003, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
 I will be very interested to see what reaction comes from the NHLPA and from other GM’s. In particular, I’d love to hear what Brian Burke has to say about this. Would expect that he will back the Oilers up. Conversely, the NHLPA will be making a grave tactical error if they try to back up the spin that that Oilers are “extorting” Comrie in this case. As I understand it, the NHLPA’s core position is that the CBA is fine and that the player market would work just fine for the league if the teams would show some gonads and use the levers that exist in the agreement – the main lever being the ability to say “no” to players that make excessive demands that the teams believe are excessive. Interestingly, this is a position that is reflected in Bruce Dowbiggin’s new book “Money Players”. Dowbiggin basically backs up the view that the owners lack of discipline has caused the CBA to create a flawed economic system, not the CBA itself. His documentation of how the NHLPA was able to systematically raise the salary bar is well known to posters on HF. However, what is interesting in his book is that he punctuates the book with with war story anecdotes from agents involved in the precedent setting negotiations. The upshot of most of these agent stories is that had the teams just stuck with their guns and used CBA tools available to them, the salary inflation we’ve seen would not have occurred. Not incidentally, Rich Winter is prominent in these tales of woe and the take that the NHL only has itself to blame for its managerial incompetance in using the 1995 CBA. How does the NHLPA’s current position hold up if they back up Comrie right now? I would say not very well.
I'm not so sure that the levers really work to tell the truth.

Here are the dollar figures that pertain to the signing of a kid like Eric Brewer, for example.

Possible scenario:

Wing$ offer Brewer $2.341M.

Oil either a) match, or b) receive two 1sts and a 2nd round pick. Basically that's a 29th, 29th, and a 58th overall pick over the course of two years for a proven (some would say) top 2 or 3 d-man. IE, some maybes three years down the road for a stud.

The Wing$ real draft day is July first anyways, so they can lose those pix, but can the Oil go on indefinitely losing young stars for late first round pix?


Going by this line of thought, does Brewer's contract still seem out of line? I'm not sure how you feel about it, but I know that some people on this message board think that Lowe got taken out behind the woodshed by Eric & co.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here, I know that you never actually stated that Dowbiggen's theory was gospel. Do the levers really work if a 23(?) year old is making over $2.5M? Can small market teams compete if this is the case?

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12-10-2003, 10:46 PM
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I feel like kicking something.

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12-10-2003, 10:53 PM
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excellent post!

Couldn't have said it better myself! And that's a great point about why the NHLPA can't get bent out of shape about anything that is allowed under the current CBA. On another message board the NHLPA's reaction to this would be a concern because they'd be pissed... but of course they can't really complain about this current system can they?

Your post should have it's own sticky and be around for those who are getting the news late.

I love days like this when I'm on the board all day checking the swirlling rumours!

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12-10-2003, 11:06 PM
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If I could, I'd take HBP's post and stick it in my wallet...just in case anybody gives me grief about Lowe tomorrow at work.

Simply outstanding work. Merci beaucoup.

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12-11-2003, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
I'm not so sure that the levers really work to tell the truth.

Here are the dollar figures that pertain to the signing of a kid like Eric Brewer, for example.

Possible scenario:

Wing$ offer Brewer $2.341M.

Oil either a) match, or b) receive two 1sts and a 2nd round pick. Basically that's a 29th, 29th, and a 58th overall pick over the course of two years for a proven (some would say) top 2 or 3 d-man. IE, some maybes three years down the road for a stud.

The Wing$ real draft day is July first anyways, so they can lose those pix, but can the Oil go on indefinitely losing young stars for late first round pix?


Going by this line of thought, does Brewer's contract still seem out of line? I'm not sure how you feel about it, but I know that some people on this message board think that Lowe got taken out behind the woodshed by Eric & co.

I'm just playing devil's advocate here, I know that you never actually stated that Dowbiggen's theory was gospel. Do the levers really work if a 23(?) year old is making over $2.5M? Can small market teams compete if this is the case?
I haven't finished the book yet. So far I buy parts of what Dowbiggin says and parts of it I don't. What I liked about the book was that he refers a lot to Marvin Miller's philosophy in designing the baseball CBA that full free agency would work against the players in the end because there would be much scarcity of impact players to drive up prices. If you've seen my posts over the last few months, this is my philosophy too for the NHL. The combination of formula based CBA and a very limited free agent market that drives the pricing benchmarks through scarcity has been deadly. On the other hand, I would disagree that the CBA is workable if it is only used properly. As Dowbiggin mentions at one point in his book, there's a great potential for teams that don't hold to valuation norms observed by the rest of the teams to damage everyone. For that reason I do think that the majority of owners need to be saved from "themselves" (i.e. other profligate owners) in some manner, otherwise the players will always benefit under the current structure through a constantly rising tide.

Hope this helps. HBP

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12-11-2003, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
Here are the thoughts that I cooked up before seeing your post.....
HBP
This is the best post I've read since the Comrie debacle began-HBP takes his time to tee up, but when he does, it's flawless. Very well said.

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12-11-2003, 04:17 AM
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well done HBP

can someone answer this question for me about the 2.5 mill payout, did I hear that it was originally Winters' idea?

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12-11-2003, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
I haven't finished the book yet. So far I buy parts of what Dowbiggin says and parts of it I don't. What I liked about the book was that he refers a lot to Marvin Miller's philosophy in designing the baseball CBA that full free agency would work against the players in the end because there would be much scarcity of impact players to drive up prices. If you've seen my posts over the last few months, this is my philosophy too for the NHL. The combination of formula based CBA and a very limited free agent market that drives the pricing benchmarks through scarcity has been deadly. On the other hand, I would disagree that the CBA is workable if it is only used properly. As Dowbiggin mentions at one point in his book, there's a great potential for teams that don't hold to valuation norms observed by the rest of the teams to damage everyone. For that reason I do think that the majority of owners need to be saved from "themselves" (i.e. other profligate owners) in some manner, otherwise the players will always benefit under the current structure through a constantly rising tide.

Hope this helps. HBP
Just out of curiosity, is M Miller's strategy aimed at evening the playing fields or just increasing the profit margin for the owners? I can only see this working for the latter if at all.

Supposing that he is working on the same solution that we here at hf Oilers are craving:

Full free agency may very well affect certain players adversely because timing is everything. IE - If Sakic was the only ufa available this year he'd sign a bajillion $$$/year deal. If everyone was ufa then no, Joe's contract wouldn't flare up like that.

Where M Miller's philosophy falls flat on it's face however is if he's thinking that the Rag$ would run out of money b4 the Oilers unleashed their popgun budget on the world. Suffice it to say that the Oilers and Sabres would be left haggling over "Albert" from the old Canadian Tire commercials.



"hold to valuation norms"? Isn't that a slightly abstract concept? Notions of a united nhl ownership group banding together out of a sense of goodwill and fair play to keep salaries down fly in the face of capitalist ideology, and a choice between "backin' off on this one free agent signing to help make the Oil and Sabres competitive" and "winnin' the Cup" is no choice at all. The group of merry men in their tights who are fighting the good fight for us "have-nots" are even dumber than they look if they think that Ken Holland will bat an eye when any opportunity presents itself.

IMO salary caps and revenue sharing are the only avenues leading towards any sort of equality whatsoever and varying levels of free agency are just a red herring, especially when they're swinging towards "free-er agency".


No offense HBP, you're the one who's doing the research and giving us the information, but these ideas scare the hell out of me.

The only time that the whole league was playing on a more or less even field was after the territorial rights were scrapped in favour of an open entry draft and teams owned players' nhl rights exclusively.

The idea of players as chattle nowadays is justifiably a thing of the past, but a better balance between freedom of the players and fair competition has to be struck, and free agency only serves the players. It is a big mistake if it's not mitigated by some form of a revenue sharing/slary cap combo.

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12-11-2003, 10:31 PM
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Well to be brutally honest Priest, this is not one of your better postings. Its merely outstanding and just barely fantastic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
Conversely, the NHLPA will be making a grave tactical error if they try to back up the spin that that Oilers are “extorting” Comrie in this case. As I understand it, the NHLPA’s core position is that the CBA is fine and that the player market would work just fine for the league if the teams would show some gonads and use the levers that exist in the agreement
A very interesting observation. I semi-half-heartedly posted a conspiracy theory that Bettman might be whispering to Lowe some tactical weakensses of the CBA that he might wish to use to send some shots across the NHLPA's brow. Until now I thought this was just poking fun. If what you're implying is true (and I think its got a really good chance) then the two combine a little more suspiciously. A weakness would be good for negotiation by the team, but if it undermines the basis of the NHLPA's argument then so much the better.

I find particular fun in the loophole matching: the Van Ryn vs the Buyout fee. A little microcosm for the upcoming CBA showdown. All they need do next is find a way to match the rookie bonus bloat.

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12-11-2003, 10:33 PM
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Hi Oi'll say. I think you've taken quite a bit more out my comments than what I intended. I'll try to give you a better sense of what I was getting at in this repy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
Just out of curiosity, is M Miller's strategy aimed at evening the playing fields or just increasing the profit margin for the owners? I can only see this working for the latter if at all.

Supposing that he is working on the same solution that we here at hf Oilers are craving:
I guess I need to clarify my comments. Marvin Miller was the head of the MLB players association before Donald Fehr. What I was alluding to is that in Bruce Dowbiggin's new hockey book there is a reference to a passage in Marvin Miller's autobiography where he indicates that he had purposely tried to enhance the position of MLB players by shooting for a system of RESTRICTED free agency rather than UNRESTRICTED free agency. Miller reasoned that a large supply of free agents would work against his goal of trying to increase player salaries by reducing the scarcity of available professional baseball players. Miller was obviously very astute in his conceptualization of what would happen, because baseball player salaries exploded after the CBA he devised came into play. All I was trying to do by recognizing Dowbiggin's reference to this view of Miller's in his book was to point out an interesting paradox. If a millionaire athlete union "anti-christ" like Marvin Miller reasoned that full free agency would be less effective than limited free agency helping him achieve his goal of driving player salaries to the sky, perhaps it would behoove the NHL to reflect on whether the NHL owners fell right into the same inflationary trap that baseball owners did by thinking that any player restrictions they could preserve would be better than nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
"hold to valuation norms"? Isn't that a slightly abstract concept? Notions of a united nhl ownership group banding together out of a sense of goodwill and fair play to keep salaries down fly in the face of capitalist ideology, and a choice between "backin' off on this one free agent signing to help make the Oil and Sabres competitive" and "winnin' the Cup" is no choice at all. The group of merry men in their tights who are fighting the good fight for us "have-nots" are even dumber than they look if they think that Ken Holland will bat an eye when any opportunity presents itself.
I think you read my message differently than I intended here too. Dowbiggin's point was that even if 29 teams - for what ever reason - behave "rationally" and generally value the same player at about the same level, the 30th team that values a player has the potential to create a disproportionately great disruption and inflation in the player market. I wasn't trying to suggest that the owners should be encouraged to actively collude.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
IMO salary caps and revenue sharing are the only avenues leading towards any sort of equality whatsoever and varying levels of free agency are just a red herring, especially when they're swinging towards "free-er agency".


No offense HBP, you're the one who's doing the research and giving us the information, but these ideas scare the hell out of me.

The only time that the whole league was playing on a more or less even field was after the territorial rights were scrapped in favour of an open entry draft and teams owned players' nhl rights exclusively.

The idea of players as chattle nowadays is justifiably a thing of the past, but a better balance between freedom of the players and fair competition has to be struck, and free agency only serves the players. It is a big mistake if it's not mitigated by some form of a revenue sharing/slary cap combo.
Don't get me wrong. I would love to see the owners achieve a salary cap, as it will do more than any other measure to help small markets compete. All I was trying to suggest is that Dowbiggin raised the interesting proposition that if measures like salary caps could not be implemented, perhaps small market hockey fans would be better off with full unrestricted free agency than they would be with a structure like what we have now. You may be right. I just think that people should not dismiss the idea that fully embracing the free market may have some significant benefits and not just huge pitfalls.

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12-11-2003, 10:46 PM
  #15
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Well most of the sport-biz junkies that hang out here know that I'm a proponent of the NBA model. A very limited draft to spread the top picks among the teams (2 rounds max) strict rookies salary caps with no bonuses (salaries are based on draft position) early unrestricted free agency after the rookie contract is complete, maximum salaries, a soft salary cap enforced by a luxery tax, and a player salary tax when total player salaries when these go above a percentage of total team revenues which also determine the cap. The only thing I would change is a restriction on guarenteed salaries - but the NBA model is pretty good IMHO.

The biggest challenge for the NHL ownership will be giving up property rights to everyone that ever laced up a pair of skates (HBP and I certainly agree on this) and that includes getting rid of things like ownership in minor league teams. Dinsaurs like Wirtz just love the sense of power they get from property rights - and I get the sense that Lowe is kind of into it too even though the recent sale of the Oilers minor league team is encouraging. Most owners and GMs are like kids with their hockey cards - got him, got him, got him, need him. For the owners to ween themselves off property rights you absolutley need a salary cap of some sort - that way a team can only sign so many high priced players before you go over the cap and start getting hit by the luxery tax. It also puts a big premium on good management because handing out a big contract that goes sour really handicaps you (typically you cant sign any free agencts if you are over the cap).

Its ironic that I am very very critical of Comrie's behavior under the existing system - but I actually support a new cba framework that would give him exactly what he wants. One of life's little irony's I guess However, the bottom line under the current system is that the Oilers own Comrie's rights and he is damaging the value of that asset by his behavior - so he either behaves better or provides compensation - his choice.

Anyway - we will get into this again next spring/summer I am very sure and I look forward to chatting with HBP, Oi'll say! and the rest. The Comrie mess has given us a little taste of what's to come though.

Cheers - Asia

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