Sometimes You're Better Off Lashing Yourself To The Mast

Graphic Comments
July 07 2013 04:09PM

There are two ways to win at free agency...

Look, I understand. You watched that free agency feeding frenzy Friday and think the Canucks missed out yet again. Well take a deep breath and relax. For the most part it was all just empty calories. Rather than adding to their strength, much of what happened in the first day of free agency was teams gorging themselves on bloated contracts.

Yes, there were a handful of solid deals made on Friday, but the vast majority involved teams paying for past, as opposed to future, performance.

So, I for one, am glad Gillis had his hands tied by being right up against the cap.

But I know that's not the state most Canucks fans are in. Seriously, though, some of you have to get a grip. Is it this run of great weather that has left you with nothing else to be irrational about?

Canucks fans are all wet

Sure, it's not all rosy in Canucksville. Heck, it's not even close. There are still quite a few holes to fill in at the bottom of the roster, and pretty much everyone has to perform up to their potential for this team to contend next year. But if you're going to complain, at least makes some sense! I can't believe how many times I saw someone tie the lack of Canucks activity in the free agent market back to the inability to trade Luongo.

I mean, sure it sucks that the Luongo contract is untradeable and left Gills with no choice but to move Cory Schneider instead. But that's not the reason Gillis' hands were tied on Friday. Even if he had kept Schneider and managed to move Luongo, the Canucks would be in pretty much the same situation up against the cap. There is only a $1.33 million difference in cap hits. That pittance wouldn't have helped them land anybody of significance in free agency. If it's not clear already, it should be. The last thing free agents are is free:

The last thing free agents are is free

And about that inability to trade Luongo... let's get a couple of things clear.

First, you have to lay some of the blame on Luongo himself. It was Luongo that reportedly turned down a move to the Leafs during last year's draft. He thought there would be interest from Florida, which has always been his preferred destination. That interest didn't materialize all summer, then the lockout started and it was the retroactive nature of the Cap Benefit Recapture clause in the new CBA that made Luongo's contract untradeable. 

And that's the second point. Up until then, it was a very cap-efficient contract. I didn't hear anyone criticizing Gillis for locking up the world's best goalie at a $5.3 million cap hit back when it was signed. 

Sure, you can pin many things on Gillis, but he had help bungling this situation and some elements were out of his control. And at the end of the day, he made the only decision left open to him: trading Schneider for a top 10 pick in a very, very deep draft.

You want to see how a GM can REALLY turn two assets into one? Look no further than Toronto, where Dave Nonis managed to spend $38 million to turn Bozak and Grabovski into Bozak.

How do you turn two assets into one?

So relax. Take a deep breath. Go to the beach.

It's only a matter of time before the sky starts falling again and you need your umbrella ella ella ella... 

RECENT GRAPHIC COMMENTS

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I'm not a hippie or on welfare. I don't live in Kits, wear Birkenstocks or own an umbrella. I've never been to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but I'm sure it's very nice. I have a mayor, not a crack addict. I drink pale ale, not Blue. And I call it a cabin, not a cottage. I can proudly say my team's been to the Stanley Cup Final in the last 45 years. They may not have won, but at least they got there. I believe in sunshine, not haze; heat, not humidity. And that sushi is a healthy and tasty meal. A coho is a fish. A ski hill is a mountain. And the plural of leaf is leaves. Okay? Not leafs. Leaves! Vancouver is the country's third-largest city, certainly the most beautiful, and the best part of Canada! My name is petbugs and I am a Canucks fan! ... You can find me on Twitter @petbugs13 or send your hate mail to petbugs (at) gmail (dot) com but it better be funny or it's getting plonked.
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#1 Ruprecht
July 07 2013, 04:37PM
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I couldn't agree more. Sometimes a good slap on the wrist can prevent one from losing a hand. I'm sure there will be doom and gloom posters, but I like that for once this year there will be jobs to be had for the hungry. That in itself is something we haven't had for a couple of years. Sure it's not by choice and you'd rather have the cash to spend as you wish, but the path of necessity seems to be the better road from the signings I've seen so far.

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#2 Reuben
July 07 2013, 04:44PM
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The way I see it, we've just got to ride this season out. It sounds like the cap is going to jump back up to pre-lockout levels next season. So we load up then, and Luongo's salary goes back to being cap-friendly.

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#3 Lemming
July 07 2013, 05:32PM
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As far as cap management goes, Gillis can hardly be faulted for not predicting the details of the new CBA.

On top of that, the cap probably isn't a problem that will persist for more than this year, and next year at most.

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#4 NM00
July 07 2013, 07:49PM
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"I for one, am glad Gillis had his hands tied by being right up against the cap."

"There are still quite a few holes to fill in at the bottom of the roster, and pretty much everyone has to perform up to their potential for this team to contend next year"

Something about the above statements seems...awkward?

"It was Luongo that reportedly turned down a move to the Leafs during last year's draft."

The lockout was the day after the draft?

There wasn't a period in September prior to the lockout when Luongo couldn't have been traded?

There wasn't a week after the new CBA had been signed to move Lou before the regular season?

Perhaps Gillis' "reportedly" ridiculous asking price of Kadri+ had something to do with why Luongo is now untradeable?

"the retroactive nature of the Cap Benefit Recapture clause in the new CBA that made Luongo's contract untradeable."

There is zero proof that the new CBA is the reason Luongo hasn't been traded. It is merely an assumption.

The new CBA allows teams to retain salary in trade. The new CBA is more trade friendly, not less.

"I didn't hear anyone criticizing Gillis for locking up the world's best goalie at a $5.3 million cap hit back when it was signed."

Uh what? Not only did people say it was insane to be locking up a goalie until 43, the contract was never designed to be moved.

"Sure, you can pin many things on Gillis, but he had help bungling this situation and some elements were out of his control. And at the end of the day, he made the only decision left open to him: trading Schneider for a top 10 pick in a very, very deep draft."

The fact that Gillis HAD to make the only decision left open to him is why he is being blamed.

The issue has always been hanging on to the Schneider asset for two years too long. He should have been traded long ago to improve the team in front of Luongo while the Canucks were at the top of the win curve.

Then, you know, perhaps Luongo would actually WANT to play for the Canucks going forward instead of exploring his options to get the hell out of here.

"You want to see how a GM can REALLY turn two assets into one? Look no further than Toronto, where Dave Nonis managed to spend $38 million to turn Bozak and Grabovski into Bozak."

Grabner and a 1st for a utility defenseman with a $13.6 cap hit for 3 years and a $5+ million payment to play elsewhere.

Two into one is better than two into negative one.

And I'm being quite generous by only assigning a negative one to Ballard.

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#5 VBS6935
July 07 2013, 08:22PM
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I am wondering if there are measurable benefits to being at or close to the cap compared to not being near the cap? I realize that teams at the cap floor generally do much more poorly than teams near the ceiling, depending on you define success and failure.

It might depend on the time of year (trade deadline day versus draft day trades, etc), but I wonder if teams who are near the cap do better in some way (SCs won, winning more playoff rounds, etc). I also wonder if it has a negative effect related to the regular season, ie, higher finishing position so that the team drafts lower.

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#6 Dman
July 07 2013, 11:29PM
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It's pretty easy to be right after the fact. The rules changed, if they hadn't Gillis would have had allot of space to do what he wanted to. not much you can do about it and I'm ok with it. Sure it would have been nice the other way but it's not.

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#7 EGS
July 08 2013, 07:15AM
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Exactly!

Everybody quit your whining! ;)

Sure, management has made some mistakes but we have the luxury of hindsight. None of us are qualified GM's, cuz if we were we certainly wouldn't be posting on this site.

It is what it is. Go outside and enjoy your summer and stop complaining about what you can't control. Besides, I don't think things are as doom and gloom as it may first appear.

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#9 NM00
July 08 2013, 10:52AM
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@Graphic Comments

"Luongo's insistence on going to Florida was not just a one day thing either. At what point between the draft and the lockout he dropped this demand, we'll never know. The point is he put a stop to talks with pretty much the only team that was interested at that point in time when a deal was doable."

Let's put aside how Luongo and Schneider feel about Canucks management at the moment.

Luongo, like many Canucks, has a NTC.

If Gillis wanted to go down the path of making Schneider the new #1 goalie, he had no choice but to appease Luongo's demands.

Just because Gillis wanted to trade Luongo does not mean he gets to do it.

He had to find at least one willing trade partner.

Luongo had to agree to waive his NTC to join a new team.

And, finally, Gillis had to accept the best offer available from a team that Luongo is willing to join.

Let's not forget that Gillis admitted he was the problem last year:

http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2012/06/23/nhl-entry-draft-journal-day-2-gillis-on-draft-strategy/

The fact that Lou has a NTC does not let Gillis off the hook. After all, he gave him that contract.

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#11 NM00
July 08 2013, 01:04PM
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Graphic Comments wrote:

Not saying Gillis should be let off the hook, just that Luongo played a role in this. He gambled that Florida would make a serious push to trade for him and lost.

But that is the right Gillis gave to Luongo with the NTC.

Just like Gillis has handed out a number of NTCs which could be an obstacle down the road with a number of players in their 30s.

Point being, if management wanted to make a change, they had no choice but to go through Lou.

Are we going to blame Lou for accepting the ridiculous contract as well?

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#12 Ruprecht
July 08 2013, 02:21PM
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NM00 wrote:

But that is the right Gillis gave to Luongo with the NTC.

Just like Gillis has handed out a number of NTCs which could be an obstacle down the road with a number of players in their 30s.

Point being, if management wanted to make a change, they had no choice but to go through Lou.

Are we going to blame Lou for accepting the ridiculous contract as well?

Pretty easy to argue the merits of both sides of this contract when it was signed...ya know a few years ago when this CBA was nowhere in sight. When it made perfect sense. Are you going to tell me back when this contract was negotiated, that you saw this coming?

Come on man, if you're going to be critical of anyone for creating this scenario where is your blame for the league? This isn't as big of a mistake as you seem to be leading people to believe. It's a straight up shafting from the league that changed it's bylaws to make it so.

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#13 NM00
July 08 2013, 02:47PM
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@Ruprecht

There isn't any evidence that the changes in the CBA have anything to do with this.

It is merely an assumption.

The new CBA allows the Canucks to retain a portion of Luongo's salary in trade.

Hence, the new CBA has arguably made it easier to facilitate a trade.

The Canucks, among other teams, were always cheating the system.

The punishment they will face in a few years is well-earned.

And, you know, the new CBA was signed months after Gillis started this process...

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#14 Ruprecht
July 08 2013, 03:47PM
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NM00 wrote:

There isn't any evidence that the changes in the CBA have anything to do with this.

It is merely an assumption.

The new CBA allows the Canucks to retain a portion of Luongo's salary in trade.

Hence, the new CBA has arguably made it easier to facilitate a trade.

The Canucks, among other teams, were always cheating the system.

The punishment they will face in a few years is well-earned.

And, you know, the new CBA was signed months after Gillis started this process...

The evidence is at the back end of Lu's deal. Nobody in their right mind would want to have the backsliding penalty THE NHL's negotiators attached to these type of contracts. It was great deal before this CBA and movable with ease as it bought cap space. So what has changed?

I'd also argue that things were made difficult with the timing of the trade request. Going into a collective bargaining season, subsequent lockout, followed by big CBA changes. It would be just as hard to move the contract with the other GM's playing "wait and see" before the lockout. (please nobody mention Toronto here... NTC.)

Some of the criticism's you've been levying are mired in hindsight which makes them unfair in my opinion. It's not like we're the only team in the league scurrying because of these changes. Will a good season next year change your views?

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#15 NM00
July 08 2013, 06:29PM
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@Ruprecht

"The evidence is at the back end of Lu's deal. Nobody in their right mind would want to have the backsliding penalty THE NHL's negotiators attached to these type of contracts."

I repeat: teams have the ability to retain salary in trades with the new CBA.

The structure of Luongo's contract is basically an interest free loan.

Any team acquiring Luongo would receive a cap benefit in the present that would be paid back in the future.

Which is quite useful in what is basically a recession considering the cap dropped by $6 million.

So if teams were scared off by the penalty that would need to be paid back at the end of the deal, they simply could have requested the Canucks to retain some salary.

None of this is a justification for failing to trade Lou in September or not starting this 15 month failed process altogether.

Whether the failure occurred in April, June or September 2012 or somewhere in 2013, there was a pretty big blunder somewhere. And probably multiple blunders.

"Will a good season next year change your views?"

No.

What would change my view is if the pieces Gillis has brought into the organization actually start taking massive (and completely unpredictable) steps forward.

And the pieces he has given away (Grabner, Hodgson, KConn, Schneider & multiple draft picks) turn into pumpkins. Or, at the least, don't look like highway robbery for our opponents.

It's not just that I fully expect the Canucks to be a middle class team this season based on the 10/50/31 core and terrible farm system.

It's that the best players on an ageing, middle class team have a lot more to do with Burke, Nonis and the province of British Columbia (Hamhuis, Garrison) than they do with Gillis.

This is year 6 of the Gillis regime and far too much of the "success" is still based on the bounty he inherited.

If he were fired tomorrow, he'd leave a mess for the next GM aside from the players brought into the organization from Burke, Nonis & geography.

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#16 JCDavies
July 08 2013, 08:11PM
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Wow, NM00 stays on message better than Fox News. ;)

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#17 puck-bandit
July 08 2013, 08:27PM
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Good article, one that has to be a starting point for a turn-around in how I have perceived, or passed non-stop judgement on every move Canuck Management has made over the past 5 years. I'm just a bitter guy that did not make the cut to the next level, so I have appointed myself as judge and jury for the Gillis camp. Our club had, and has little cap to do much of anything, so I guess the next best thing is to buy short term depth, as they did. Now here we go; what Mike and Lawrence did was probably the next best thing, and keeping in mind that a couple of our young picks, and those that played in Chicago last season will make the jump. I need to remind myself that I like Tort's, and when he won in 2005 he had a team full of guy's that had no clue about the importance of winning the Grail. So my faith is in him, as I feel it is with Mike Gillis. If what he has done and this holds true, we may not be as bad off as I am trying to convince myself of. Should we get bounced again in 2014, I can wait until next year as the club will have expiring contracts, 12 mil for 2 players to start. I am not the eternal optimist, but have mustered, or regained enough faith to allow this process to unfold. What pleases me most, and many readers have quoted this, we are not hamstrung with massive signings that a huge contingency of clubs are going to regret. No; we did not get our shopping list filled, or 8 year, 7 mil contracts signed by super-stars, but a common-sense approach of at least igniting our core to take the morale to the next level for a good show of faith for us fans. One thing in life that is free, is "common-sense" and I forget that lesson from time to time, so here's to a rejuvenated sense of faith for our Canuck's.

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#18 NM00
July 08 2013, 08:57PM
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JCDavies wrote:

Wow, NM00 stays on message better than Fox News. ;)

You might want to think of a new line.

Assuming you are trying to be clever.

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#19 JCDavies
July 08 2013, 09:17PM
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@NM00

Stay strong bro.

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#20 Ruprecht
July 08 2013, 11:11PM
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NM00 wrote:

"The evidence is at the back end of Lu's deal. Nobody in their right mind would want to have the backsliding penalty THE NHL's negotiators attached to these type of contracts."

I repeat: teams have the ability to retain salary in trades with the new CBA.

The structure of Luongo's contract is basically an interest free loan.

Any team acquiring Luongo would receive a cap benefit in the present that would be paid back in the future.

Which is quite useful in what is basically a recession considering the cap dropped by $6 million.

So if teams were scared off by the penalty that would need to be paid back at the end of the deal, they simply could have requested the Canucks to retain some salary.

None of this is a justification for failing to trade Lou in September or not starting this 15 month failed process altogether.

Whether the failure occurred in April, June or September 2012 or somewhere in 2013, there was a pretty big blunder somewhere. And probably multiple blunders.

"Will a good season next year change your views?"

No.

What would change my view is if the pieces Gillis has brought into the organization actually start taking massive (and completely unpredictable) steps forward.

And the pieces he has given away (Grabner, Hodgson, KConn, Schneider & multiple draft picks) turn into pumpkins. Or, at the least, don't look like highway robbery for our opponents.

It's not just that I fully expect the Canucks to be a middle class team this season based on the 10/50/31 core and terrible farm system.

It's that the best players on an ageing, middle class team have a lot more to do with Burke, Nonis and the province of British Columbia (Hamhuis, Garrison) than they do with Gillis.

This is year 6 of the Gillis regime and far too much of the "success" is still based on the bounty he inherited.

If he were fired tomorrow, he'd leave a mess for the next GM aside from the players brought into the organization from Burke, Nonis & geography.

Retaining salary, not an option here...nor is it for many GM's. I have yet to hear of a retained salary deal, the dump is where it's at. No need to repeat a moot point. This is far from a recession, it's a highly regulated shift in the market place. A clawback of the cap we and other teams bought. Teams are still spending lots. But it's tight at the top.

The big mistake or series of mistakes I think was Gillis not taking into account a new CBA just as the meat of the contract was being served. There were warnings ahead of time that these were going to be punished come CBA time.

15 month ordeal? Man, where have you been? We've been deciding on trading a goalie for years. One thing you overlook is the stability Lu brought to that position. The one that earned him "The Contract". Again, brilliant for us at the time.

I'm with you on some of the trades and asset management. Just plain ugly. Your Geography argument is lame and can be used for every Canadian club signing players who want to stay close to home. Nitpicking really. I still don't understand how you can dwell on all the negative without crediting some of the good changes that have been made, and are taking place.

Eventually, even Gillis will move on. Maybe he leaves a few pearls for the next GM like his predecessors....nobody really knows for sure. Stay a little more positive in the meantime. You'll be comatose by November at this rate and maybe miss the first slump....and wouldn't that be tragic?

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#21 NM00
July 09 2013, 10:34AM
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"Retaining salary, not an option here."

It's an option for all 30 teams in the new CBA. For whatever reason, you seem to be ignoring that this new rule makes it easier to facilitate trades.

"I have yet to hear of a retained salary deal, the dump is where it's at."

Carolina retained salary in the Jussi Jokinen deal.

Toronto retained salary in the Bernier deal.

"There were warnings ahead of time that these were going to be punished come CBA time."

I fully agree. Though it's a pretty big shift from "it's a straight up shafting from the league that changed it's bylaws to make it so."

"15 month ordeal? Man, where have you been? We've been deciding on trading a goalie for years."

15 months is how long it took Gillis to go from Lou to Schneider & back to Lou.

In the process, he wasted two playoff runs while the Schneider asset did little to change the outcome for Vancouver.

None of this is hindsight. Gillis' process was dumb from the outset.

And the proof is that Lou is still here. Though he (smartly) is exploring his options to get out of here.

"I still don't understand how you can dwell on all the negative without crediting some of the good changes that have been made, and are taking place."

"Your Geography argument is lame and can be used for every Canadian club signing players who want to stay close to home."

Free agency is player-centred. There are a lot of factors that go into the destinations players choose that have nothing to do with the GM.

Philly & Pittsburgh wanted Hamhuis too. Among other teams. The fact he signed in Vancouver had little to do with the GM. Same thing when Mitchell signed in Vancouver.

"I still don't understand how you can dwell on all the negative without crediting some of the good changes that have been made, and are taking place."

Name these good changes that Gillis has made.

Aside from Ehrhoff, the overwhelming majority of significant changes Gillis has made have hurt the Canucks.

"Stay a little more positive in the meantime."

Stay a little more realistic in the meantime. Or you will be mighty disappointed this season as the Canucks drift towards mediocrity.

Many will be calling for Gillis' head by April 2014 or earlier.

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#22 Ruprecht
July 09 2013, 04:35PM
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@NM00

Thanks Man. As for the calling for Gillis' head thing, you're already wrong. Read around, hit a bar wearing a Canuck hat. It has already hit the Parlour. Rest assured, not much you have to say is new to me. I'm a Canuck Fan. Optimism springs eternal for me at the start of each season. Except for lockout years that is....

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