Loose Change: A Serge-ing Market

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN’s hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you a humorous look at the world of hockey every Friday only on

Serge Payer is likely to have some sleepless nights ahead of him in the near future. Serge is, of course, for anyone who knows their hockey, the 12th line center for the Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators.

He didn’t see a lot of action this year, appearing in only five games – and in three of those he sold popcorn between periods – but he is a vital member of the hockey fraternity. And Serge, more importantly, is set become an unrestricted free agent July 1. That means any team in the entire NHL is free to sign Serge, provided they come up with enough cash to win his services over what is sure to be a glut of other bidders. Yes my friends, Silly Season is upon us.

Serge will likely not come cheap. To acquire a player of his caliber – six points with the Panthers in ’05 and he also got that stubborn toilet to stop running – you must be prepared to meet what the free market demands. You must be able to budget to get this kind of talent on your team.

Sure, Serge isn’t expected to be scooped up in the first wave of the buying frenzy. Certainly the Scott Gomezs and the Ryan Smyths of the league will go first. It’s also highly probable Serge won’t be in the second or third wave of signings either. Or the fourth, the fifth, or sixth even.

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Realistically, Serge might have to wait until after all the available backup goalies, depth defensemen and custodial staff are signed, but his day will undoubtedly come. He is a limited commodity – much like nasal spray – and when you need your nostrils clear, you need your nostrils clear.

Signing Serge, and others of his ilk, gives a team those invaluable and intangible qualities. Sure there’s the 13 points in 127 career games as a precursor, but to know that if the team bus is ever lost in Binghamton or San Antonio, Serge knows the way out, can allow a GM to sleep peacefully at night.

You can’t put a price tag on something like that.

And we do know Serge will sign somewhere. He always does. And he always will. As long as he keeps producing one point every 10 games and as long as he doesn’t mind dressing near the dumpster. And as long as at least one general manager has some loose change screaming from within his wallet. And, as long as there’s a Silly Season in the National Hockey League.

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