and Marc Bergevin said all the right things during their Monday evening conference call.
"This is where my heart is, in Montreal," the 23-year-old Canadiens defenceman said after signing a two-year, $5.75-million US contract
. "I never thought this wouldn't get done."
"There was never a doubt from the day I took over that I wanted P.K. Subban to be part of this team," Bergevin, the general manager, replied.
There's already a ton of debate over who "won" this negotiation and what it means for the future. The Canadiens got the short-term deal they wanted, at a very reasonable cap hit ($2.875 million per year). But the structure is very interesting. Monsieur Bergevin and Subban's agents provided the young blue-liner with some serious incentive.
Montreal's offer was reportedly consistent: $2.2 million for the first season, $2.9 million for the second. At the end, however, it changed. A little less money for year one ($2 million), a lot more for year two ($3.75 million).
That number is higher than what Josh Gorges, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Carey Price all made at the end of their second deals. Subban will be two years away from unrestricted free agency after the completion of this contract, so the Canadiens must give him a qualifying offer of $3.75 million to keep his rights in 2014.
As it stands, there are five Canadiens scheduled to earn more than that for the 2014-15 season -- Price ($6.5 million), Plekanec ($5 million), Pacioretty and Erik Cole ($4.5 million each) and Gorges ($3.9 million). Who knows what will happen between now and then, but you can see the possibilities.
By agreeing to set the second year at $3.75 million, Bergevin is telling Subban "If you perform at a very high level, you are going to get paid -- handsomely." You can very easily see a situation where he becomes Montreal's second-highest paid player, either through his next contract or salary arbitration. (Undoubtedly, his agents will say I'm setting the bar too low.)
Maybe Montreal didn't give him what he wanted now, but if he plays like he can, the Canadiens will have to do it later. And if Subban plays like he can, Bergevin will do it willingly.30 Thoughts
1. If there is angst among the Canadiens' fanbase, it's because they're worried the relationship between Subban and the organization is fractured. It doesn't have to be that way. Drew Doughty was the best defenceman in the world eight months after his contract fight with the Kings. You can argue that Doughty got the salary he wanted. Well, then I give you Brandon Dubinsky. The Rangers played hardball with him after his entry-level deal. (He got two years, $3.7 million.) He shook it off, played hard for them, and was rewarded with four years and $16.8 million. Scott Niedermayer twice missed parts of seasons with the Devils, and only left to play with brother Rob. These disputes can be overcome if handled maturely.
2. That leaves Ryan O'Reilly. As of Monday night (when I wrote this), there didn't seem to be any movement between him and Colorado. With him unsigned, Steve Downie out for the season and Gabriel Landeskog in an uncertain position, it's believed the Avalanche are trying to add a forward. Ideally, that guy would be O'Reilly.
3. Many of you have asked about offer sheets. As one GM (not one quoted elsewhere in this blog) said: "If Nashville is going to match that offer to Shea Weber, what the [bleep's] the point of doing one?" He added that some of the vulnerable teams are getting increased revenue sharing under a new CBA, giving them even more incentive to match -- with your money.
4. Hopefully Landeskog makes a full recovery. Hate to see anyone, much less a 20-year-old with so much in front of him, run into what could be concussion trouble. Brendan Shanahan is taking some heat for not suspending Brad Stuart for the hit
, but Stuart did not target the head, didn't leave his feet before impact, kept his elbow tucked in and certainly did not intend to injure. The outcome, however, is potentially awful. No one wants to see that.
5. One of the reasons Jamie Benn got a deal done
with Dallas was a desire to play with brother Jordie, who is on the blue-line. Because the contract was done so close to last Thursday's game against Chicago, Jamie decided not to interfere with Jordie's preparation by telling him. So Jordie Benn found out with everyone else, when the team announced it over the public address system. So much for "sources."
6. What a great Monday night for Chad Johnson, who recorded the first shutout
of his NHL career, 4-0 over Nashville. Johnson, an injury replacement for Mike Smith, said he wasn't looking at the clock, because "you're trying to keep focused on what you have to do." But he did admit to being relieved when it hit 0:00, because he'd been close twice before. On Jan. 7, 2010, Atlanta's Jim Slater broke the goose egg at 6:06 of the final period, and Johnson lost in a shootout. Twenty-four days later, as Henrik Lundqvist battled the flu, Cody McLeod scored with 7:21 to go in a 3-1 Rangers win over Colorado. Johnson hadn't started an NHL game since then.
7. The best part for the 26-year-old? It was the first time his family got to see him play an NHL game. Parents Terry and Karen and twin brother Curtis all booked time off to see him this week with AHL Portland. When he was called up, they switched their flights. Great moment. Hopefully, someone from the Phoenix organization handed over the NHL's Platinum American Express card to fund the deserved celebration.
8. Mentioned that the Avalanche are searching for forwards. Who else is looking to do stuff? Not Washington, according to GM George McPhee. "We are not looking for help," he said Saturday, 24 hours before the Capitals beat Buffalo
for their first victory. "We're in no rush to move anybody."
9. Some of their opponents do feel Washington is one club badly hurt by the lack of exhibition games. It will take time to adjust from Dale Hunter's system to Adam Oates's. McPhee said that when the Devils made changes last season (with Oates on staff), "It took 16-20 games before they were doing it right."
10. Couple notes about Alexander Ovechkin: McPhee said the experiment of moving him to right wing is not dead. When the Capitals played in New Jersey last week, Ilya Kovalchuk -- who went through a similar process last season -- told Oates that while he hated it at the beginning, he eventually grew to like it.
11. I asked GMGM (as local fans call him) about one executive's assessment of Ovechkin, that "he's too big." Understand: this is not to say he is out of shape, just that he is too bulked-up. In the 2005 NHL Guide and Record Book, the Great Eight is listed at 212 pounds. Now: 230 on NHL.com. McPhee disagreed, saying, "His ideal weight is 227 or 228. He's at about 231 or 232." And before anyone jumps on that, he doesn't feel that difference is a big deal, either, because it's close to where Ovechkin should be.
12. Kings? Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times advanced an interesting theory
on Hockey Night in Canada Radio
-- that Dean Lombardi believes the defending champions deserve a chance to prove they can right the ship before he makes any moves. They've won two straight after three losses to open the season. It fits with what Lombardi wrote in a brief email: "I have to let this play out a bit."
13. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Kings may consider parting with goalie Jonathan Bernier under the right circumstances. That probably depends on how the organization feels about Martin Jones, playing in Manchester. He's in the top 20 in the AHL in shutouts (T-3), save percentage (T-11) and goals against average (17). There are some scouts who think he is ready.
14. Another ESPN slave, Craig Custance, reported some teams had interest in Brent Sopel, playing for Metallurg Novokuznetsk. Teams are definitely looking for defencemen. Problem with Sopel is that, according to the NHL, any player who dressed for a game in another league after Jan. 19 must clear waivers. The KHL's website indicates he played on Jan. 26.
15. Don't know if it fully explains San Jose's 5-0-0 start, but suffice it to say the Sharks are well aware of the belief their "window" has closed. (Patrick Marleau: "I've been asked this question a couple of times this year.") There is no doubt the organization is using that as motivation. There is also no doubt of Larry Robinson's impact. When he speaks, everyone listens.
16. That said, Sharks ownership is going to have to give the coaches danger pay. When Matt Irwin scored his first NHL goal last weekend, Robinson leaned in to offer congratulations and was accidentally cut by Irwin's stick. Todd McLellan suffered a concussion on the bench last season. Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft should go to work in bubble wrap.
17. Justin Schultz gets a lot of praise for how he moves the puck, but opponents point out that other Edmonton defencemen deserve credit for their ability to get it to the forwards. On Nick Schultz (Justin's partner): "There's no panic with him. He makes the right plays." Corey Potter and Jeff Petry also received mention.
18. More on the OIlers, from some of their opponents: "Their poise with the puck is amazing, fun to watch. They will get chances every game." Biggest issue is already pretty obvious: "They are going to struggle in their own zone, the goalie will have to be good."
19. Devan Dubnyk's had some nice bounce-back games for them already. Destroyed by San Jose? He's great against the Stanley Cup champions. Rough night against Calgary? How about 37 saves to beat Colorado? That will impress people, because it shows his compete level. The big question: are the Oilers going to be good enough defensively to really give Dubnyk a shot to show what he can do?
20. Remember that line about Washington from before -- that they were really hurt by the lack of exhibition games? Same thing goes for Calgary. Opponents see a team that has more skill than before, but is still getting used to Bob Hartley's tactical adjustments. The Flames were considered a "heavy" team that would "lean" on the opposition. Now it's about being quicker and using that speed to pressure.
21. One of biggest changes Hartley has made is demanding shorter shifts to keep the pressure as fresh as possible. From last year, Jarome Iginla is down nine seconds per shift, Jay Bouwmeester is down seven, Mark Giordano and Alex Tanguay five. The only returnee whose number went up was Roman Horak, who was returned to AHL Abbotsford.
22. John McEnroe had a big compliment for good friend Henrik Lundqvist, calling him the best tennis player he's faced who is not actually a tennis player. I asked how many points Lundqvist can win from him. McEnroe smiled and said, "Well, he's never won a game off me... He's got a great first serve, but 'patty-cakes' the second one."
23. Lundqvist tells a great story about his draft year (2000 in Calgary). He thought Dallas would take him, especially after the Stars took his brother Joel 68th overall. He was in attendance and sat there stewing as all of their friends (Lars Jonsson, Martin Samuelsson, etc.) were taken before he was. Finally, the Rangers let him know they'd be taking him in the seventh round, 205th overall, as Don Maloney listened to the wishes of scout Christer Rockstrom. They can still remember the seat Lundqvist sat in.
24. It should be noted that Lundqvist talked about how important it was to go on the Jimmy Fallon show
post-lockout in order to sell the game at a low time. For the same reason, he did the interview with us on his only day off around three games. Sidney Crosby also agreed to come on HNIC Radio
on a day off. Appreciate both players -- and the P.R. staffs of the Rangers and Penguins -- finding the time.
25. Whatever the Maple Leafs decide to do with Phil Kessel, the one reason I'd be wary of trading him is he is perfectly suited to playing in Toronto. He doesn't pay attention to anything: the newspapers, sports radio, etc. It's hard to insulate yourself from that intensity. It's why Toronto and Montreal were ready to throw millions at the Sedins, who are similarly unbothered. Those guys can be hard to find.
26. Was at a Labatt's event last week with Scotty Bowman. There's a pretty legendary story about Bowman and the newly retired
Tomas Holmstrom. Basically, Holmstrom was looking for a new number and Bowman suggested 98. When the player asked why, Bowman said because that would be the year Holmstrom went back home. (He was off by 15 years.) Bowman said that when the Swede first came over, he was from such a remote area that he didn't know much about the Red Wings. When asked to pick a number, he first tried 19. Wasn't getting that. Okay, how about 91? Uh, no. Holmstrom picked 15, later agreeing to give it up to Dmitri Mironov. That's when Bowman made the crack.
27. Don't take that to mean Bowman lacks respect for him. Holmstrom played hurt -- a lot. Bowman said Holmstrom didn't like going to the net unless a shot was coming, so he and Nicklas Lidstrom worked out some plays to know when there would be an attempt.
28. Olympic update: More calls and emails exchanged last week. Negotiations to begin in February. Will be interesting to see what happens with the world championships. If there is a new Olympic/World Cup cycle, will players (and the NHL) still want to be part of the worlds?
29. Business story to watch: The Vancouver Sun reported
how the Canucks cut ties with Air Canada for team travel. It is possible several other teams will follow because, during the lockout, the airline reconfigured its planes and now doesn't have enough with the necessary first-class seating throughout. Air Canada's private service is generally very good and had contracts with approximately half the league for this year. The lockout crushed its business (one estimate: we're talking eight figures) and the company is a major sponsor for some of these teams. How will Air Canada respond if more clubs bail?
30. As February arrives, the NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to begin the final "drafting period" for the new CBA. Both sides are to meet for 10 consecutive business days to finish the job, with a deadline of 12:01 am on Feb. 16. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): "If the parties are unable to reach agreement on the full text of the CBA language... the language of that provision in the MOU shall automatically constitute the full text of that CBA provision." Any further disputes will go to arbitration.
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