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THN.com Blog: Sens held hostage by goalie contracts

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

If Ray Emery decides he wants to fight the fine the Ottawa Senators gave him Tuesday, the NHL Players’ Association will gladly take up the cause.

A source close to the situation said Emery would have grounds to grieve his fine of $14,705.88 – one day’s pay based on his salary of $2.75 million this season – because Emery was four minutes late for practice in Long Island Monday and was told by the Senators to leave. Technically, he did not miss practice.

Exhibit 14.3(b) of the collective bargaining agreement reads: “Any player who misses a schedule practice without valid and pre-approved permission will be fined (one day of his) NHL salary.”

The source said the union would only grieve the matter on Emery’s behalf if Emery reported it to the union and applied for a grievance. If not, the fine will stand and the NHLPA will not get involved.

What is more essential to ask is, what exactly were the Senators thinking when they gave Emery a three-year deal worth $9.5 million last summer, instead of sticking to their guns in arbitration? Because Emery was the one who filed for arbitration last summer, the Senators had the option of selecting a one- or two-year deal. Even though Emery had made great strides both as a goalie and a responsible person, there were enough red flags out there that the Senators still should have had long-term concerns. That didn’t stop them from coming to a three-year contract before completing the arbitration process.

Now they’ve tied themselves into a long-term contract and that makes Emery almost impossible to move; it’s not Emery the Senators cannot trade, it’s his contract. And it keeps happening in the NHL by teams that continue to be duped into giving lucrative long-term deals to players based on a very short history of positive accomplishments.

Of course, Martin Gerber has to shoulder some of the responsibility in all of this, too. Had Gerber played better last season upon signing his own big three-year deal with the team, Emery would have been the Senators backup last season and never would have put himself in a position to command the money or term he did when his contract expired.

So now the Senators have two goalies, neither of whom evokes any memories of Terry Sawchuk. One of them has off-ice issues and neither can be moved to make room for Brian Elliott or Jeff Glass, two promising prospects the Senators have in their system.

And it all goes back to the team’s ability to place proper value on their on-ice assets, a quality that is becoming more and more important in this league.

WORLD UPDATE

With Canada hosting the World Championship this spring, there will undoubtedly be a push by Canada to win the tournament. Although fired Toronto Maple Leaf GM John Ferguson is being discussed as a top candidate for the GM job, it’s believed Hockey Canada still would like to have Steve Yzerman take control of the roster.

It’s not certain whether Yzerman will be willing to do it two years in a row, and Hockey Canada is reportedly interested in the likes of Bobby Smith, the former Phoenix Coyotes GM, who is part owner of the Halifax Mooseheads, and Patrick Roy, who is owner-GM-coach of the Quebec Remparts. Having one or either in place would play well because the event is in Halifax and Quebec City, but because of their limited exposure to current NHL talent, either one would have to lean heavily on help from NHL personnel.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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