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Rand Simon's Blog: How Alfie lost out on $14 million

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The following sub-headline in a recent Ottawa Sun article about Daniel Alfredsson caught my eye and leads to the topic of today’s column:

Despite being only fourth-highest-paid Senator, captain says he'd never dream of renegotiating contract.

It’s a good thing Alfredsson would not dream of reworking his deal since, as a member of the NHLPA executive committee that negotiated the current collective bargaining agreement, the Senators’ superstar knows better than anyone contracts cannot be renegotiated no matter how much of a financial nightmare the new CBA has been to him.

For Alfredsson is possibly the player who has taken the biggest economic hit as a result of the current CBA.

As a player who signed prior to the lockout (he signed an extension on Aug. 10, 2004), Alfredsson is subject to the 24 percent rollback on his salary for the duration of his contract. He is signed through 2008-09 and there are option years that could take the deal through 2011-12 (option years are not allowed under the current CBA, but survived in contracts that were signed under the previous CBA).

If Alfredsson does play under his contract through 2011-12, he will have earned a total of $26.6 million in salary (less any escrow) over the seven seasons since the lockout. Without the 24 per cent rollback, Alfredsson would have received $35 million during that time frame. So, including the $5 million lost from the 2004-05 season, the lockout cost Alfredsson $13.4 million in salary.

On top of that, Alfredsson has signing bonus payments in his contract and the lost rolled back amount is another $1.155 million.

In total, Alfredsson is potentially down more than $14.5 million. To make matters worse, it is worth pointing out that in August 2004 Alfredsson was getting $1.31 Canadian for every U.S. dollar earned and not the 98 or 99 cents he gets today.

While contracts cannot be renegotiated, they can be extended. The subject of contract extensions is dealt with in the CBA (Article 50.5 (f)) and many fans (and media for that matter) seem confused regarding the rules.

A player may only sign an extension when he is in the last year of a multi-year contract or after Jan. 1 if he is on a one-year deal.

Let’s use two more Ottawa Senators to demonstrate how extensions work. Wade Redden is in the second year of a two-year contract. He has been eligible to sign an extension since this past July 1. Chris Kelly, on the other hand, is on a one-year contract and cannot sign an extension until Jan. 1, 2008 at the earliest.

All NHL contracts expire on June 30 and both Redden and Kelly will be unrestricted free agents on July 1 if they have not been re-signed by Ottawa.

Another important point about extensions: They have no impact on the current season’s payroll. For example, Senators center Mike Fisher signed a five-year extension a little more than two months ago that will pay him $21 million. The average annual value of the contract will be $4.2 million, but for this season, Fisher’s cap cost to Ottawa is just the $1.5 million from his current deal.

While there have already been a fair number of contract extensions signed this season, there may well be a flurry of new deals once all the players on one-year contracts (like Kelly) are eligible to extend their deals after Jan. 1.

One final point regarding contract extensions: When the CBA was originally ratified, it prohibited contract extensions for players on entry level contracts. However, the two sides subsequently agreed to eliminate that restriction and therefore players such as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and San Jose’s Matt Carle have been able to sign extensions prior to the expiration of their first NHL contracts.

WORD PLAY Another headline that caught my eye this week was this one:

Seven different players score in Canadiens’ win.

Is the word “different” really necessary? I mean, if the headline had just said, Seven players score in Canadiens’ win, would anyone think that some of the players who scored were the same?

I wonder what that headline writer would compose if the Canucks won a game 7-2 and both Sedins scored. My best guess:

Five different and two really similar players score in Canucks’ win.

PLAYING AGAINST THE BEST If you are a stats junkie like me, I suggest you check out the website Behind the Net.

My favorite stat there is the “Quality of Competition” which does a great job of showing which players are used against the other teams’ top skaters.

According to the website, the player who faced the toughest competition last year was New Jersey’s John Madden. So far this season’s top three (minimum 10 games played) are Anaheim’s Samuel Pahlsson, Ottawa’s Anton Volchenkov and Florida’s Olli Jokinen. At the bottom, facing the weakest competition so far, are enforcers Andrew Peters (Buffalo), Aaron Downey (Montreal) and Eric Goddard (Calgary).

Rand Simon is an NHLPA certified agent. He has spent the past 14 years with Newport Sports Management Inc.



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