The two leverage points in this negotiation negated each other:
1. The Canucks could never replace the twins next summer through free agency and it would have been mighty hard to do via trade.
2. The twins never had any intention of leaving Vancouver.
GM Mike Gillis was handcuffed by reality No. 1, and agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports was always limited by reality No. 2.
So, find the middle ground, right?
It still took four months of talks, although that had less to do with this being acrimonious -- it wasn't -- but more with the Canucks wanting to do a little more research on where they projected next season's salary cap to go. Plus -- and they might never admit this -- I suspect management wanted to make sure the team didn't come out of the gates this season under new coach John Tortorella and fold like a house of cards under the new regime. They had to make sure this was still a contending team and the window was still open.
The Canucks had a strong start in October led by the twins’ strong play. I think that put everyone’s minds at ease.
Canucks management and the twins’ camp met Monday in what was considered the final, breakthrough moment; ownership approval came over the last day or so; and there you had it, twin deals worth $28 million each over four years.
"Initially, we wanted a five-year deal and they wanted a three-year deal, and we settled on a four-year deal," Barry told ESPN.com Friday.
"At the end of the day, it was trying to find a fair deal for both sides."
People always say that, of course, but in this case I think this is truly what transpired. If the twins had gone to market next July, in what will be another weak free-agent class, they each would have easily fetched $8 million a year over five years. No question.
The new contracts are still a gamble on some level. After all, the twins are 33 and will be 37 when the deals expire. But when you consider their impeccable health and durability, you don’t sense that this is a deal the Canucks should regret too much in three to four years. During negotiations, Barry brought up how fellow Swedes (and CAA clients) Daniel Alfredsson and Mats Sundin remained very productive into their late 30s.
Patrick Marleau, 34, is in the final season of a deal that pays him $6.9 million. Joe Thornton, also 34, is in the final year of a deal that pays him $7 million. Brad Richards, 33, has a $6.66 million cap hit. Jarome Iginla, 36, can earn $6 million this season if he reaches all his bonuses.
I don’t think the Canucks overpaid. And I don’t think the Sedins were shortchanged.
"People that know us know that money is a small part of the negotiating thing," Henrik Sedin told reporters at a news conference in Vancouver. "We love it here. Our families love it here. ... If you go to become UFA, you may get more money somewhere else, but that was never part of the negotiation."
Thank goodness for the Canucks.
"Would have been impossible," Gillis responded at the news conference when asked about trying to replace the twins in free agency. "You're talking about two players, not one.
"They wouldn’t have been replaced in free agency."
He doesn't have to worry about that now.