I’ll admit that I have been a Negative Nancy when it has come to this lockout nonsense this season. I have said more than once that not only do I think both the NHL and NHLPA are stubborn enough (not to mention stupid enough) to blow up an entire season for a second time in less than a decade, but I in fact believed it would happen. It still could happen.
But after some surprising news leaked out last night (from Hockeybuzz’s mysterious and often dubious editor, Eklund no less), and was confirmed by multiple reports that significant progress was made when the NHL delivered a new offer to the NHLPA, fans will absolutely go ballistic if Donald Fehr and the gang reject this offer, or at least don’t come back with a counteroffer.
Some of the highlights:
–The make-whole provision would remain at $300M
–Contract limits would be set at six years for free agents and seven years for teams re-signing their own players
–Contract variance would be 10% rather than 5%
All of this is fine and well from a financial standpoint, and I’m sure there is plenty more information to sort through when you get into the specifics of this sucker, but the part that interests me the most–and the part which should interest Edmonton Oilers fans the most–is that the long-rumored “Amnesty” buyout clause appears to be part of this offer as well.
Such a clause would allow each team to buy out one of their contracts without it counting against the salary cap. In short, this would quickly and immediately bring an end to the Shawn Horcoff era in Edmonton.
Horcoff is not a bad guy, don’t get me wrong. He’s a third-line center and good soldier/captain who’s been asked to play way over his head (and talent level) during Edmonton’s lean years ever since he signed that six-year, $33M dollar extension back in 2008. I don’t begrudge the guy for getting his. If the team offers it to you, are you going to say no?
But make no mistake, considering the dearth of talent that Edmonton has on its roster who will be due significant pay raises in the next two seasons, plus the talent in Oklahoma City and elsewhere thet the Oilers will be bringing onto its roster in the coming years–not to mention that the youth are the future of this team and the old guard doesn’t seem to be gelling with them too well–Horcoff’s annual cap hit of $5.5M being on the books for the next three seasons is unacceptable and is going to make things messy for the club. If this provision makes it into the the CBA that is ultimately accepted by the NHLPA, Horcoff will be the one to go.
But the bigger question is: Has the NHL blinked and will Fehr accept this deal? Or will he continue to be cloyingly patient and see if he can squeeze even more out of the NHL before accepting their offer? My heart says he’ll take this one, but my mind says that somehow even this olive branch won’t be good enough and he will continue to risk losing this season entirely to prove a point, since that seems to have been his endgame up to this point.
But maybe I am wrong. I hope I am. I think Horcoff hopes so too.