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The Hockey News

I've been exchanging emails with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly all day and I was on the phone with an NHL executive for one hour, seventeen minutes and 14 seconds and I'm still no closer to deciphering the NHL's "tagging" rules than I was before the exercise.

Actually, all this has spawned a theory. The yearlong lockout in 2004-05 wasn't about getting salaries under control, franchise values or crushing the players' association. In actual fact, the league and the NHLPA needed a year to actually write the collective bargaining agreement.

New NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly is right. This thing is brutal. The guys who wrote this thing must have been sitting around maniacally laughing at how many people were going to want to pour gasoline on themselves and then strike a match trying to figure this thing out.

Let's take, for example, Exhibit 50.5 (e) (iv) (C) (2), shall we? It explains part of the tagging rule this way:

"In order for a Club to sign (a player) to a multi-year SPC after Dec. 1 of a season, the Club must have Payroll Room equal to or in excess of the Averaged Amount of the Player Salary and Bonuses for the remainder of such season. If, however, the Averaged Amount of the SPC exceeds the Club's Payroll Room for the then-current League Year, the Club may still sign such an SPC, provided that it has Payroll Room and, if such Payroll Room is insufficient to acquire the SPC, it has an amount equal to one or more SPCs that will expire at the end of such League Year, in an amount equal to or in excess of the amount by which the Averaged Amound exceeds the Club's Payroll Room (the "Tagged Payroll Room"). Until such time as the Club has or makes Payroll Room in the current year in excess of such Tagged Payroll Room, the Club may not engage in any Player transactions requiring Payroll Room, including but not limited to, acquiring an SPC or "extending" or entering into a new SPC (the "Tagging Rule"). In the event the Club does have or creates such excess Payroll Room, it may use such excess Payroll Room in accordance with the terms of this Agreement."

In case you didn't understand that, the CBA spells it all out in an example, which reads:

"Assume the Upper Limit is $40 million and a Club has an Averaged Club Salary of $39 million (and Payroll Room of $1 million.) The Club may sign an Unrestricted Free Agent at the halfway point of the regular season (i.e after December 1) under which the Player will earn $1 million or less during the last half of that League Year. If, however, the SPC is a multi-year SPC, with an Averaged Amount of $2 million, which is in excess of the Club's Payroll Room (i.e. $1 million), then the Club may still sign such SPC, provided it has $2 million of Tagged Payroll Room (i.e. the $1 million in remaining payroll room and $1 million of SPC's in their last year, all of which are "tagged")."

Why didn't you say so?

What I've been able to cull so far is that for this season, the Anaheim Ducks have about $45.3 million committed in one-way contracts. I think that means they have to "tag" about $1.75 million this season to get Niedermayer into the fold. Daly said in one of his emails that the Ducks have about $5 million in tag room remaining. They're still over the cap for next year, but have about $4.7 million in existing contracts (Jonas Hiller, Corey Perry, Brian Sutherby and Joey DiPenta) expiring after this season, and for some reason that can be applied to give the Ducks more tagging room.

How that is, I have no idea. If you do, feel free to explain this to me. Near as I can tell, the Ducks have $53.2 million committed in salaries next season and the cap for this year, which is supposed to be applied to next year, is $50.3 million. I've been at it all day and now I have a very large headache.


Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Anton Stralman told a Swedish newspaper recently that if he's not back permanently with the Leafs by the New Year, he'll seriously consider going back to play in Sweden.

Stralman, who has played seven of the Maple Leafs 29 games this season, was recently sent down to the Toronto Marlies of the American League when Pavel Kubina returned to the lineup after recovering from an injury.

"I'm going to do this one month," Stralman said. "If I'm still in the AHL after New Year's Eve, we'll have to have a discussion. The hockey isn't fun in the AHL. I went over to play in the NHL and I know I can do it."

Stralman's contract does not have a provision allowing him to go back to Sweden if he doesn’t make the NHL team, so it will be interesting to see how his case is handled by the Leafs. They could give him permission to go home, but would be fully within their rights if they demanded he fulfill the terms of his contract by playing for the Marlies. If Stralman were to go back, he'd likely play for his former team of Timra.


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