Consider the following: two hockey franchises enter an off-season with an open checkbook and a need for a scoring winger. Both with owners willing to go above and beyond to win, if in separate ways. Both teams target Marian Hossa. The first owner gives his general manager permission to make an extremely generous offer. The general manager does so and expects Hossa to accept. The second owner gives his general manager the green light on an exorbitant offer. The general manager does so and the second owner expects Hossa to accept. When Hossa doesn't immediately accept, the second owner becomes personally involved in the negotiations, chasing Hossa's agent like a wanton teenager. He, like an average fan, wants a superstar offensive player and is willing to do anything to get one.
Wednesday, July 2 12:35PM Detroit Red Wings sign UFA forward Marian Hossa to a 1-year, $7.4 million contract.
The first owner gives his general manager the green light to fill the roster with the Hossa dollars. The general manager, knowing that he has an extremely young team, spends the Hossa dollars on NHL veterans as grout in the cracks of the roster.
Wednesday, July 2 4:58PM Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA defenceman Brooks Orpik to a 6-year, $22.5 million contract.
Thursday, July 3 1:57PM Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA forward Ruslan Fedotenko to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract.
Thursday, July 3 1:57PM Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA forward Miroslav Satan to a 1-year, $3.5 million.
Saturday, July 5 7:30PM Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA forward Matt Cooke to a 2-year, $2.4 million contract.
The second owner then focuses on a second offensive superstar, and makes him an offer so generous, that they are $3,000,000 higher than the next NHL offer. The owner chases the player's agent once again, expecting the player to sign.
Thursday, July 10 2:30PM Avangard-Omsk sign UFA forward Jaromir Jagr to a 2-year, $25 million contract.
The second owner was left holding the bag for an extremely young team. By the time the second owner had failed twice in his courtship, there was little left to sign, even in the form of grout for the young pieces on the roster.
Thursday, July 10 4:06PM Edmonton Oilers sign UFA forward Jason Strudwick to a 1-year, $650,000 contract.
Tuesday, September 30 11:13 AM The Edmonton Oilers claim defenceman Steve MacIntyre off of waivers from the Florida Panthers.
The first team had veteran experience throughout the roster, and was able to give time to the young players and have success late in the season after a coaching change. The second team was left without a buffer for the young pieces on the roster and a coach that had no ability to coach the pieces he had. The second team was overwhelmed throughout the season.
It may be that the gulf between veteran owner and rookie owner is as vast as the gulf between a playoff veteran player and a rookie in the NHL. It should be a lesson to the second owner to have field of vision in his dealings, rather than an obsessive tunnel vision for the bright and shiny things.
By Derek Zona