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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Long story short: seeing as I’ve been woefully under-vacationed this year, I’ll be taking an extended break after next week’s mailbag. You won’t hear from me again – other than a quickie blog and a dispatch or two from the Winter Classic in Boston – until the week of Jan. 11.

However, the mailbag will return on Friday, Jan. 8 – the same day THN Radio returns to the XM Home Ice 204 airwaves – with answers provided by my fellow THNtertainers. So keep sending your questions to the usual destination and someone should get to them.

Hi Adam! Don't you think there should be a rule to prevent front-loaded contracts like those to Marc Savard, Marian Hossa and Roberto Luongo?

They need a rule saying something like your annual salary can't be more than double or be cut in half from one year to the next. That way Savard wouldn't go from $5 million to $1.5 million to $525,000 and the Bruins would have more trouble fitting him under the cap. Thanks for your thoughts!

Thomas Lessard, Sherbrooke, Que.

Hi Thomas!

I definitely think there should be a rule against front-loaded contracts, which violate the spirit of the cap.

The problem is, collective bargaining agreements aren’t duty-bound to protect their spirit. They’re all about legalese and highly specified dos and don’ts – and the current CBA doesn’t have any language that specifically outlaws front-loaded deals.

The league very likely will close that loophole during the next round of labor negotiations. And once they do, player agents, GMs – and yes, a few scruple-challenged owners – will do everything within their power to gain a competitive advantage by circumventing another regulation that isn’t specific enough.

That’s the way the NHL has always worked and the way it will always work. And I agree with the players that attempting to shoehorn in a band-aid solution/rule halfway through a labor deal is a bigger violation of the spirit of the CBA than any of these shady contracts.

Adam, I’m just wondering – do you think NHL players would be less likely to be injured if they went back to wooden sticks with a flat blade? Major League Baseball mandates wooden bats instead of aluminum and NASCAR has restrictor plate racing at some tracks to slow down the cars. Could it help in hockey?

Win Damon, Newburyport, Mass.


Composite sticks with curved blades don’t hurt people; people hurt people.

What’s up, Adam? My question is very complex: why all the hate on European players? I mean come on now, I know hockey is Canada's sport and all and the major influx of European players is at an all-time low, but most who do play here are at the top end of the spectrum.

And while not having an agreement between the NHL and Kontinental League is still a large pain, most Russians and European players want to play against the best in the world. So why all the “Haterade,” man? I personally think we are blessed to see all these players do something they obviously enjoy.

Chuck Harris, Wilingboro, N.J.

What’s up…er…Chuck? Re-read the lead to this mailbag if you want to know what’s prominent in my mind.

Now to your question: I’m completely on your side. But for as long as I’ve been around, there has been an immensely arrogant and provincial element of Canadian hockey fans and authority figures who have convinced themselves my homeland is forever the be-all and end-all of the sport.

Blinded by their own insecurities, these folks are the ones who would prefer the NHL employ only North American players; they also delight in never having the basic respect to learn how to pronounce the names of European players and take every opportunity to belittle them as gutless and undeserving of any accolade that comes their way.

That attitude does nothing but inhibit the growth of the sport. But look at the real world and you’ll see people who immigrate to a new land are often derided and blamed for issues entirely out of their individual control.

It’s a shame such a disgusting, small-minded philosophy has been allowed to be promoted for so long. But I have great faith that, with the passing of time, these xenophobes will look as foolish as Harold Ballard does today for the utterly insane Soviet-phobia the former Maple Leafs owner was burdened by in the 1980s.

Adam, I understand when a player is suspended the money he would have been paid goes into a player emergency fund. Is the money lost to the fines subject to escrow rules, or (because it's a punishment), are they responsible for the full amount?

Chris Steffens, Seattle, Wash.


You have a proper understanding of where player fines are directed. As for your question, I checked with a reputable source – player agent and former THN staffer Rand Simon (who will join Scott Laughlin and I on THN Radio this afternoon); he confirmed that, because the money a player loses in any suspension technically isn’t paid to him, the amount of lost salary is not subject to escrow. I’m sure we’ll all sleep easier tonight.

Dear Adam, I've been a fan for nearly 40 years now, but these days I can't stand to watch a game where these teams wear their third jerseys. Florida's and Colorado's new ones in particular are terrible. I was just wondering when teams started wearing these third jerseys?

Walt Dean, Moorehead, Minn.

Dear Walt,

I believe the first appearance of third jerseys in the NHL took place in the 1995-96 season.

However, if you think today’s are bad – and I agree with you, especially about the Panthers’ new abominations – get a load of what they forced Wayne Gretzky to wear nearly 15 years ago.

Absolutely deplorable. I’m surprised No. 99 didn’t retire on the spot.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on Proteau also answers readers' questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


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