This question comes from my friend Mike way back home in Rahway, New Jersey. Yes I know where in the wide wide world is Rahway? Well, it is a town just west of Staten Island of New York. Here is his question.
Why are all these arbitration cases suddenly vanishing into paper, thin air and is that a good thing?
Well Mike the answer is really easy on this one but still surprising nonetheless. Arbitration just gets extremely ugly. Shaone Morrisonn of the Washington Capitals went through the process first and was rewarded a 1.975 million dollar deal. The Caps called him “one dimensional” and a player who was at “the right place at the time”. Talk about harsh. But as James Mirtle and countless people have put it…that is the nature of the best that is arbitration.
Ville Koistinen just went through the process as well….and got a one year, 700 K contract. Clearly a case where Nashville won and won big. Many think of Koistinen as a Marek Zidlicky like player and with the way salaries have gone….I admit I did not see this decision coming. Think of what other people got and what Jay Bouwmeester would have received if he had gone to arbitration. Surely Nashville asserted that Ville only got 17 points last season whilethe NHLPA camp probably countered that with more playing time he could contribute more.
Then there are those hearings that are just so bad it makes you sick. I still remember to this day the hearing of Isles starting goalie Tommy Salo in 1997. In that fateful hearing, Mike Milbury tore into Salo so badly, Salo was seen walking out in tears and was never right afterwards. Everyone remembers Belarus if you are a hockey fan. I still remember reading about the hearing in my Home News & Tribune and thinking, “My god! I don’t think I have ever seen someone grilled under the coals and thrown over the falls like that ever!”
Could that have been why 11 of 15 players settled before arbitration? That is a distinct possibility. Sean Avery went to war with Glen Sather practically over last year’s arbitration. People wonder if they later had a role in Avery going to Dallas this offseason during the free agent frenzy. I certainly would not be surprised if that was a main contributing factor. GM’s reap what they sow in these meetings and later on it can burn them. Count Avery as Exhibit A in my book.
So are less arbitration cases a good thing? You better believe it is! Arbitration pre and post-lockout drove up salaries instead of stabilizing them. Less cases usually means lower “hometown” discounts for the most part. Now some of these are done for trade reasons like in the case of Jay Bouwmeester but the rush to settle is a better alternative than 15 arbitration hearings anyway.
That’s my take and thanks Mike for the question.