One of the benefits of running the best organization in hockey – one that wins year after year despite the challenges thrown at it and one that treats it’s players right – is the loyalty your soldiers show you.
In the NHL, that organization is the Detroit Red Wings and the loyalty being shown comes in terms of the ever-popular “hometown discount.”
Nicklas Lidstrom got a late Christmas gift when he inked a two-year, $15-million extension on Dec. 26. The signing was more like a Boxing Day deal for the Wings, however, as Lidstrom would have had offers in the $10 million per season range had he elected to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Heck, the 37-year-old, who is the league’s current top blueliner and No. 2 of all time, took a pay cut – he’s making $7.6 million this season – to stay in Detroit.
While not of the same scope or impact, news came down Wednesday that goalie Chris Osgood, who has played 1b to Dominik Hasek’s 1a this campaign, inked a three year, $4.25-million extension.
Osgood, who returned to Detroit following the lockout, has not only revived his career, but has thrived in his role and put up Vezina numbers (19-2-1, 1.68 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, 2 shutouts).
At 35, there would have been plenty of teams (I’m looking at you, L.A. and Tampa) willing to pay a lot more than $1.4 million per for Ozzie’s services.
Getting players to re-sign for less than market value in a cap world is a real coup and just one more reason teams should look to Motown for a blueprint for success.
THE EDWARD CHOICE AWARDS
With every team past the halfway pole (St. Louis and Philly play their 41st tonight), let’s quickly hand out some hardware.
MVP (goalies not included)
Ilya Kovalchuk, ATL – THN says Jarome Iginla in the Jan. 22 magazine, I say Atlanta never turns things around without the league’s leading sniper (remember, this is most valuable player, not best)
Evgeni Nabokov, SJ – His team’s played 41 games, he’s started 41 games (and kept his GAA hovering around two (2.01).
Patrick Kane, CHI – There were plenty of questions about his size and NHL-readiness coming into the season. Consider all questions answered.
Sergei Zubov, DAL – It would be easy to say Nicklas Lidstrom, but Zubov doesn’t get nearly enough credit, nor does he have Brian Rafalski as a No. 2 man.
Andy Murray, STL – Though he probably deserved it, you couldn’t give it to him last year because he came to the Blues too late. But it’s all him this season in St. Louis and he’s got his mostly no-name bunch poised for a playoff return.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.